It is virtually impractical to avoid conflicts in any collaborative agenda. Whenever diverse collection of voices, as well as perspectives is put together, disagreements are bound to arise. It is usually challenging for an individual to forsake his or her ideas and interests in favor of those of another person. However, if these divergent views are channeled towards achieving a common goal in the team, the decisions made in groups would be much better than those made by individuals. Currently, I am working in a committee of 15 church members. We have been tasked to budget for decoration of our church premise. With limited resources and high demand for an excellent work, the committee has encountered several challenges. The given research paper discusses the various aspects of group decision-making process. It pays particular attention to barriers to decision-making process and the improvements that can be adopted to better the process.
Keywords: barriers, conflict, decision-making, goal
In any group decision-making process, the role of a leader is critical. He should ensure that observing certain steps maximizes group performance. The leader should first establish the team goal or vision. It would create cohesion, as members move towards a common point. The leader should then create a working environment that would allow for an open, meaningful, as well as honest communication. It is also necessary that the leader set clear expectations and responsibilities, once a working environment has been established. The expectations may include timelines, deadlines, and a scope of the required work among others. They help the members stay focused on the required outcomes. In order to have the team perform to the level of expectations and remain focused to the goal, the team leader should ensure that adequate resources are availed to the team members. Once everything is set, a team leader should steer the process, while ensuring that neither under-management nor over-management is witnessed in due course (Bateman & Snell, 2009).
Group decision-making has a number of advantages. It enables the team to put greater knowledge or expertise together. The synergy enables superior decisions to be made in the process. Group members tend to have greater commitment towards the implementation of decisions reached, whenever they are given an opportunity to contribute. It is enabled by the fact that they understand the reasoning behind any given decision. Finally, group decision-making enables members to grow and develop by enhancing skills and abilities of the members (“Advantages and disadvantages of team decision-making”, 2007).
However, group decision-making has its disadvantages. For instance, the creativity of individual members of the group can adversely be affected by social pressure, since members are often forced to conform to group decisions. Moreover, group decision-making can always be dominated by a few vocal members, who speak longest and loudest, thereby, ignoring the rest of the group members. Finally, a member’s personal considerations, which may include winning argument, may affect the primary objective of sound decision-making. It often leads to goal displacement (“Decision-making & managing conflict”, 2013).
Groupthink is the major barrier to group decision-making that we have so far encountered in this committee. It represents a form of biasness, in which the team often forsakes realistic evaluation of alternatives in favor of harmony. Our group members have always endeavored to minimize conflict by opting for the group’s consensus thinking. In due process, the group sacrifices creativity and independent thinking, which usually results into poor quality of decisions.
Conflicts arose in the group due to divergent views within the group. To resolve these, the group leader advocated for adoption of compromise, as a conflict resolution method. It is an intermediate approach, in which the parties having conflicting ideas settle for partial satisfaction. The adopted ‘middle ground’ position ensured that the two groups mutually benefited (Scholl, 2003).
Dissent should be encouraged during group decision-making. Although it often results into conflict, it is usually constructive when control is exercised. Controlled dissent facilitates an environment, where the decisions made are more robust and complex. Encouraging dissent enables the group to combat groupthink, which is a major barrier to the group decision-making process (“Resolving conflicts”, 2005).
Time pressure has been one of the barriers to decision-making that has always been overlooked in our group. The pressure has usually been prompted by the short duration that is often set apart for the group meetings. It explains why members are often forced to adopt intuitive shortcuts, rather than logical reasoning that would ensure sound decisions. If the time factor were fixed, the team would have the opportunity to adopt integrative decision-making, rather than compromise in conflict resolution. It would ensure that the importance of the task being executed, as well as that of the relationship between team members, is considered (Scholl, 2003). The mode is important, as it keeps the group focused on its goal, and ensures that all members are satisfied.