In any successful organization, certain decisions are best made by teams–especially when those teams are responsible for and must act on those decisions. Research finds that 75% of the time a team makes a superior decision over an individual leader making the decision solo. The reasons for this may seem obvious. Two, or more, heads are better than one which makes team decisions better informed. There is also less bias when a diverse group is involved in a decision. Team members also feel appreciated and listened to and will have greater ‘buy-in; when they’ve had a say in decisions that affect their work and lives..
An interesting study of the conditions leading to better and poorer team decisions offers some insights for leaders looking to lead their teams to make superior decisions (Cheng, et al., 2011).
- Superior results were achieved when members discussed, or even argued over, differences in perceptions of the task and the processes to complete it.
- Teams where all members agreed on the task and its’ completion process produced good but not great results. ‘Like-mindedness’ does not result in great decisions.
- When the conflicts were relationship-based (i.e., team members did not get along based on personal reasons) the team became dysfunctional which in turn negatively affected team decision-making processes and outcomes.
So, what is a leader to do to guide their teams in making great decisions? Follow these research-supported guidelines:
- Compose teams with people who have higher levels of emotional intelligence.
- Recruit people who see themselves as a good fit for the team
- Include members who have diverse experiences and perspectives in a common area
- When possible, hold meetings in-person rather than virtually.
- Encourage discussion, but minimize lengthy and frequent debates
- Reach decisions that solve the problem thoroughly.
Cheng, L., Wang, Z., & Zhang, W. (2011). The Effects of Conflict on Team Decision Making. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 39(2), 189–198.
de la Torre-Ruiz, J. M., Ferrón-Vílchez, V., & Ortiz-de-Mandojana, N. (2014). Team Decision Making and Individual Satisfaction With the Team. Small Group Research, 45(2), 198–216.