Should you always involve your team in decision making?

Decision making is absolutely critical to moving forward. Whether as a company, in a team, or even as an individual, whether you are deciding on the next step, the objectives or targets and goals, decisions need to be made. The question is should you make them alone?

There are a number of reasons why people try to avoid team decision making, these could include, among others:

  1. A fear of losing control
  2. A lack of courage to challenge the status quo
  3. The security of playing it safe

The reality is that in today’s modern and diverse workplace, it is nearly impossible to please all parties involved. The other reality is that decisions still need to be made for the sake of progress. So what to do.

New research shows that diverse teams are 87% better at making decisions. 

In addition, 86% of employees in leadership positions blame the lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures.

This means that not only is it beneficial to include your team in decision making, it is beneficial to diversify the team involved in the decision making process.

Benefits of team decision-making for the business

Team decision-making reduces the risk of groupthink

The ultimate risk of groupthink is that teams prefer to have the same answer, not the right answer.

Coming up with two possible solutions and presenting it to your team in a democratic manner, does not leverage the full benefits of team decision-making. On the contrary, in this scenario the team is likely to choose the option more suited to their own needs, rather than the best business decision.

Allowing a team to partake in the thinking and brainstorming leading up to a decision, provides the opportunity to debate and problem-solve from various perspectives. Meaning the ultimate conclusion has taken into account a diverse network of opinions, backgrounds, objections and possible solutions, making the conclusion comprehensive.

Blind spots are reduced when involving a team in decision making

A beautiful quality of humanity is the differences between people. The variety of strengths and weaknesses. The different opinions and interpretation of information. The optimists, pessimists and realists can all provide valuable insights into a problem. 

Understandably, this strength is often seen as negative. Asking the opinion of a diverse group of people is daunting as it could result in heated discussions, possible arguments, and would require exceptional management and leadership skills to facilitate. But the result is a well thought through plan considered from various perspectives and is guaranteed to be more comprehensive than any decision made by a single individual.

Any blind spot or fear of a single individual would be brought to light by another member of the team.

Involving a team in decision making, motivates buy-in from the get go

If the bulk of a team or company is involved in the decision making process, you will find far less resistance when it comes to implementation.

The team are already familiar with the pro’s and con’s – they’ve discussed them and debated various possible options. This means that they can trust the ultimate decision made and trust the leadership.

Benefits of team decision-making for the team

It needs to be noted that team decision making is not only beneficial for the organisation. It has proven benefits for employee morale.

We’ve all attended meetings where a question was raised and individuals were either reluctant to give their opinion, didn’t say anything at all, or simply agreed with the majority rule. This is evident of a team where opinions are undervalued. Why give an opinion if no one listens? Or perhaps, staff are frequently blind-sided by sudden decisions made by the big boss.

To truly benefit from team decision making, employees need to engage, feel that their opinions are valued and heard, and not simply asked as a formality. 

Involving employees in the decision-making process enhances employee engagement. Studies show that if employee engagement is encouraged, employees:

  • Produce better outcomes
  • Provide better customer service 
  • Are likely to remain with the organisation for longer

Engaged employees are also healthier and less likely to experience burnout. 

Studies show that individuals who collaborate and work in a team are more than 50% effective at completing tasks than those who work independently.

All things considered it is safe to say that the benefits of involving your team in decision making, far out way the fears. 

So how do we streamline a decision making process to ensure effectiveness?

Improve the decision-making process

Involving your team in the decision-making process is beneficial to the entire organisation. 

The various skills, expertise, insights, objectives and suggestions brought to the table is sure to bring about detailed discussions and lead to well thought through answers.

Though this can be daunting, we suggest the following steps to start incorporating and involving your team in the decision-making process:

  1. Bring the problem to the team, not the solution. This allows clear thinking without bias toward an already determined solution motivated by fear of being wrong or different.
  2. Encourage critical thinking by challenging the relevance and effectiveness of the ideas brought to the table. The first idea could be right, but not yet refined.
  3. Expect and manage disagreement. It is important to note that most people dislike disagreement, it makes them uncomfortable. Criticism can be taken personally irrespective of the intention of the critique. It is important to help your team through their emotions to encourage more engagement in follow up meetings.
  4. Overcome biases and assumptions. Open discussions are bound to bring about biases and assumptions which could be offensive. This is the perfect opportunity to clear the air, learn about one another, better understand and ultimately trust fellow team members.
  5. Have inclusive discussions. Allow opinions to be raised by everyone without judgment. Every opinion is valuable, though maybe not the right solution, the different perspective is useful to finally come up with a conclusive solution.
  6. Assign responsibility. Whether before or during the decision-making-process it’s beneficial to involve your team in not only the discussion but the research and action points. Assigning responsibility shows trust and again enhances employee engagement.
  7. Turn discussion into action. Without a doubt, discussions involving multiple individuals can go on and on. It can also digress into other topics. It’s important to bring the conversation back to the topic at hand and make a final decision to act on.
 

Whether for small decisions such as the time a meeting should start or more elaborate operational decisions such as shifts and working hours, team discussion are always valuable. 

It is worth noting that there are occasions where a decision should be made by a leader or manager, for example whether a team should attend training. Knowing it is beneficial for your team, the ‘whether’ to train is not the discussion point, but the ‘what’ to train should be.

Furthermore, as a manager, leader or business owner, there are often strategic plans, financial implications or economic factors that team members may be unaware of. In these cases, following the discussions and conclusions reached through team decision-making processes, the ultimate responsibility to decide and secure company growth may rest on a few experts.

Considering these points, one aspect is clear. Leaders and managers absolutely need to know how to lead and facilitate team discussions. This is where learning and investing in the upskilling of staff becomes absolutely essential.

Your blueprint for making learning your strategic advantage

 

To effectively facilitate decision-making processes, it is essential to not only up the skills of your managers allowing them to effectively facilitate discussions, but also upskill your team members. 

Insight into economics and basic administration, communication skills, leadership and management skills and understanding diversity in a workplace, are all essential for the workplace and will undoubtedly improve employee morale, team work as well as the company bottom-line. 

This means that if training and learning is not already an essential part of your organisation’s strategic advantage it needs to become one, as soon as possible.

Here are a few tips to ensure learning becomes a strategic advantage.

Firstly, any learning must support the company objectives and executive’s priorities. This not only makes funding allocations easier it also shows support for company success and the strengthening of the company’s bottom-line.  

Secondly, it’s necessary to define the outcomes that can be influenced and improved through learning.

Thirdly, gather more data. Some learning initiatives and skills gaps may be quite obvious whilst others need more investigation. Read more on how to analyse the return-on-investment (ROI) for corporate learning programs. <link to ROI for corporate learning programs blog> 

It’s also valuable to remember that learning does not always have to be work related. Employees who partake in wellness or creative courses may live an improved lifestyle which inevitably flows through to the workplace. 

Lastly, focus on the big picture and current events. An organisation that can train their staff in a manner that supports current global trends, is definitely a step ahead of the rest.

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