Why Your Team Can't Make Decisions
We make hundreds of decisions every day. Some may be more difficult to make than others. Deciding what to wear is a little less risky than, should I move to Bora Bora, or should I invest in soy beans or technology? When you add several other people into the decision making soup, it becomes a little more murky. There are many factors that can affect, influence, and block a team’s decision making efforts.
What Impacts a Team’s Decision Making Abilities?
- Listening: This, of course, falls under the culture umbrella. Does the team listen to one another? Are ideas allowed to flow freely without fear of negative conflict, ridicule, or automatic dismissal? Serious conflict can be a real roadblock.
- Team Size: The size of the team can have an affect on team decision making. The larger the team, the more difficult it will be to make a decision.
- Diversity: Diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, areas of expertise, and organizational affiliation all play a role in team decision making. Further if the team is both international and virtual, this brings in an additional element that can prove difficult.
- Time: Time can play a role in decision making as well. Is there a deadline? Are there time zones to consider? Is it too early to make the decision? Are there seasonal considerations?
- The Type of Problem Being Addressed: The decision whether or not to hire new admin staff members can be light hearted and take less time. Strategic decisions can be cumbersome, political, and more complex.
- The Decision Making Model: The model the team uses in making a decision can hinder or escalate the decision making process. For example, a strategic decision might involve conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Treats). The brainstorming method might be used to plan an event. A team may be contemplating moving a department to another building and a simple pros and cons exercise might work just fine. The SWOT is time consuming and could become complicated. The brainstorming team could be a barrel of fun and the pros and cons method can be quick, down, and dirty as the saying goes. A slow strategy can prove to be just as bad a no strategy. However, in today’s rapidly changing business environment, speed is of the essence.
- Behaviors: We want and need diverse teams. This also means diverse behaviors. It is essential that each team member understand his or her own behaviors as well as those of teammates. Each behavioral group or combination thereof has a particular decision making process. People who are assertive, aggressive and domineering tend to make knew jerk decisions, neglect gathering the facts, and fail to listen. Others may be “flighty” and agree to anything or everything and change as the wind blows. Still others, may withhold information and fail to contribute valuable input. Another behavioral group wants to gather every fact, follow specific procedures, and fear they and the team will all fail if the absolute correct decision is not made.
Decision making processes and their results for that matter are not flawless. It is possible to reduce poor decision making by using appropriate models for particular decisions. An even bigger key is for team members to have a solid self-understanding of their own decision behavioral tendencies. In addition, other team members with other behavioral styles can help facilitate the decision making process through their understanding of their own and others decision making tendencies.