Managers in organizations often need to take decisions based on consensus. They need team members to discuss, debate, and decide on a mutually agreeable conclusion. Though group decision-making is a powerful technique, it has its own disadvantages. It is time consuming; members may be unclear about their roles and if not handled well, there could be some bitter feelings between them. Nevertheless, its advantages outweigh the possible disadvantages. As all the members are involved in the process, it is likely to be accepted easily and members will be more willing to abide by the decision taken. Besides, there could be more generation of ideas with more information flow.
So, how can managers facilitate a productive group decision-making process?
In this blog, I will discuss 5 techniques that can assist managers in their efforts towards arranging a meeting for the purpose of group decision-making.
1. Brainstorming:It is a combination of group problem-solving and discussions. It works on the belief that the more the number of ideas, greater the possibility of arriving at a solution to the problem that is acceptable to all. It starts with the group generating ideas which are then analyzed, with action points based on the discussions.
For instance, if you have received a new e-learning project and are thinking of a strategy to implement in the course, you can follow this technique. Gather a group of instructional designers in a conference and let them first analyze the inputs. After that, you can collect ideas from each of them and take the final decision.
2. Nominal group technique:In a nominal group technique, the team divides itself into smaller groups and generates ideas. Possible options are noted down in writing and the team members further discuss these to narrow down the possible choices they would like to accept. Team members then discuss and vote on the best possible choice. The choice that receives the maximum votes is accepted as the group decision.
Continuing the above example, this group of instructional designers can be further divided into smaller teams. Every member of the team gives their idea and at the end, each member votes for the best one. At the end, the idea that gains the highest votes would be finalized.
3. Multi-voting:It starts with a round of voting where an individual casts his vote for the shortlisted options. Each individual can cast one vote at a time. The options with the maximum number of votes are carried to the next round. This process is repeated until a clear winning option is obtained.
For instance, from the above discussed example, each team would propose their strategy in front of the other teams. And the other teams would vote for the one they prefer best. The strategy that receives the maximum number of votes is considered final.
4. Delphi method:In this method of decision-making, the facilitator allows team members to individually brainstorm and submit their ideas “anonymously”. Other team members do not know the owner of the ideas. The facilitator then collects all the inputs and circulates them among others for modifying or improving them. This process continues until a final decision is made. In the above example, you can have a facilitator who collects strategies and passes them on to the others without revealing to whom the strategy belongs. Later, the facilitator collects the improvised strategies and chooses the best one.
5. Electronic meeting:Here, the decision-making process takes place virtually with the help of technology. For instance, we can have a Skype call with the client. Create two or three strategies and discuss them with the client clearly in the Skype call; let the client choose the strategy close to his expectations.
Team decision-making is a time-consuming process and before the team leader ensures the participation of the full team, he/she must make sure he has enough time and resources for the decision-making process and choose a technique that is most appropriate in a given situation, keeping the profile of team members in mind.