The Power of Groups
Group decision making is advantageous as it brings different experiences and perspectives together for more creative and effective decisions. Besides, groups could achieve more results than individuals. However, group decision making has several limitations in that groups could be difficult to coordinate and some members could fail to work as hard as the other members. Another limitation is the concept of ‘groupthink’ that occurs as a result of too much cohesion in a group and makes people avoid thorough evaluation of data and ideas. Carpenter, Bauer & Erdogan, 2010). This can often lead to bias and poorly thought decisions.
My previous employer’s workplace had various processes and structures to help eliminate bias, create structure and ensure better decisions. One such process was creating a culture whereby every member of a group was encouraged to express his or her opinion or idea regarding a certain matter. The norm for every group meeting was that every member’s idea or opinion would be written down and considered in the decision making process. By creating this culture of difference, my previous employer ensured that most of us thought as individuals and not as a group.
Another process that my previous employer used to eliminate bias, create structure and cultivate better decisions, was evaluating every group decision. The company always ensured that it revisited every group decision by evaluating how the decision was made, reasons for making the decision, and looking at data and evidence that support the decision. For instance, they would evaluate conflicting views and assess the situation that led to the decision.
Every six months, my previous employer would also review performance systems to rule out bias in evaluating and rewarding employees. This was done by evaluating performance measures and how each employee was contributing towards the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. This evaluation was always objective and the performance system was based on the roles and responsibilities of employees at the work place rather than what each employee was doing at any given time.
The three processes were successful in promoting effective decision making and eliminating bias. For instance, the culture of encouraging every employee to express their thoughts helped to avoid the group mentality and as a result, employees were coming up with very creative ideas and perspectives on different business aspects such as marketing. The process of evaluating every group decision helped in ruling out subjectivity and shallowness in some group decisions. In addition, the evaluation process helped in doing away with ineffective and biased decisions. The review of the company’s performance system also helped in eliminating bias by promoting objectivity (Castellan, 2013).
Nevertheless, there were instances of group decision making that still involved bias and ‘groupthink’ mentality. For example, while making decisions on sensitive matters such as how to deal with lateness, only a few employees could voice their opinions while the rest would just keep quiet or support what others said. This was probably due to fears of rejection or isolation when an employee has a contradicting opinion. However, these instances of bias were quite few as the organization had already created a culture of valuing different ideas and opinions. Without such processes, I have no doubt that biases and organization skewing would be rampant as in a group setting, people are known to follow other peoples’ ideas and not bother much about having their own input.