Team decision making is a process that involves collecting, processing and communicating information in order to reach a task-relevant decision. Although all team members may not reach a consensus, the decision-making process must involve all the individuals within an organization. Each team member is expected to filter data, apply individual expertise and communicate vital information to the other members in order to come to a common conclusion (Bowers, 2001).
Decision making has two basic approaches: the outcome-oriented approach which assumes that if a person can correctly predict the result of the decision process, then it is obvious that he understands the process. The second approach is the process-oriented approach which is based on the assumption that if one understands the decision-making process, then he can correctly predict the outcome (Zeleny, 2002).
For a team to make proper decisions, each member must have a mutual mental model for the co-functioning of all team members. This means that team members should have common problems or situations. According to Sternberg (2001), team members must also hold a common assessment of what is mandatory to meet task demands. Team members must come into terms with the nature and extent of information that should be shared between them so as to come up with accurate expectations and explanations of the task and the team. The shared models should be compatible with the expectations generated. Team decision making requires the organization of activity, flexibility, adaptability and the expectation of other members’ behavior.
Individual differences as a result of issues relating to personality, goals, attitudes, and motivation among other individual characteristics may exist between team members. However, team members should hold a common agenda in order to attain team expectations rapidly and accomplish the task accurately (Bowers, 2001). Group decision making requires creativity.
This means team members should have diverse perspectives to stimulate discussion and enhance creativity. Homogeneity among team members reduces the amount of group creativity. Team members should be trained with assertiveness skills so as to advocate for positions that they perceive as correct in order to communicate the information they believe to be critical to the decision.
Team decision making is a process that involves a set of ongoing activities whereby the demand for specific individuals may vary depending on momentary task demands. The decision-making process consists of three basic interdependent stages: the pre-decision stage, decision stage, and the post-decision stage.
The pre-decision stage is characterized by frustrations, conflicts, and dissatisfactions of the status quo. Dissatisfactions arise due to lack of alternatives, however when team members realize that the decisions are not feasible they look for alternative decisions. The new alternatives generated may turn out to be feasible or ideal. Team members may also embark on a careful reassessment of the alternatives as well as questioning and scrutinizing preferences (Sternberg, 2001).
The decision stage is divided into the partial decision stage and the final decision stage. The partial decision stage involves doing partial adjustments to the various decision proposals. All alternatives are also compared with the ideal. In this stage, the attraction to discarded alternatives diminishes while that of the retained alternatives is magnified. The final decision stage involves choosing one alternative and dropping the ideal alternative. Impartiality is dropped since the decision has been made. The post-decision stage is a gentle process of reassessment and cognitive search of information. There is a high magnitude of cognitive dissonance that results in selective disclosure to information (Zeleny, 2002).
It is evident that conflicts may arise during the decision-making process, therefore in order to minimize team conflicts, the decision outcome should not take priority over the group. Team members should always be motivated to preserve the group. The goal of a team should be to accomplish a task rather than to reach a compromising decision.
Bowers, C. et al. (2001). Shared mental models in expert team decision making. Individual and group decision making, vol.1, pp. 221-246.
Sternberg, R.J. (2001). Environmental Effects on Cognitive Abilities. London: Routledge, 2001
Zeleny, M. (2002). Multiple criteria decision making. New York (NY): McGraw-Hill.