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Decision Making in Teams

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Essay title: Decision Making in Teams

1. Main concepts addressed in the Report

There are several types of decisions that we need to make daily and the importance and complexity of these vary enormously. Most decisions are made by moving between the choice of criteria (the characteristics our choices meet) and the identification of alternatives (the possibilities we choose).

Decision making is the process of identifying a problem and choosing alternatives based on the values and preferences of the decision maker. It can also been described as a process of reducing uncertainty and doubt about alternatives to allow a rational choice to be made. Concepts such as choice, interest, consequence and relationship should also be highly regarded when arriving at a decision.

Decisions made by individuals or groups have their own advantages and disadvantages. Managers?decisions, whether arrived at individually or by a group, can either make or break an organisation and its people. A characteristic of high-performing organisations is that they make good decisions and they make them swiftly. These organisations also share other values such as prioritising, actioning, clear accountability and adaptability. It is equally important that decision makers are chosen correctly and involved in the designing of the decisions and their decisions are reinforced upon them.

There are several obstacles to decision making that must be referred to when decisions have been made by a group or team. Issues such as group think may hinder the effectiveness of decision making within a group as pressures may “deter the group from critically evaluating unusual, minority or unpopular views?(Robbins, Millet & Waters-Marsh, 2001). Examples of this can be seen in the several key models for organisational decision making that have evolved. The rational, garbage can, democratic and political, just to name a few, will be discussed in this report.

Concepts in Teams Decision Making Scenarios

a. Concept of Choice

According to Cannon-Bowers (2001:222) “team decision making refers to a process that involves gathering, processing, integrating, and communicating information in support of arriving at a task-relevant decision? A goal of the team is to accomplish a task through identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values, objectives, desires and preferences of the decision makers. Making a decision implies that there are alternative choices to be taken into account and a team has to pick one that best meets its requirements and criteria.

Decision making is an integral part of any corporate activity. Some groups exist to make decisions for an organisation rather than produce an actual output. The decision making and choices made by the group implicitly and explicitly affect the performance and productivity of the organisation. The choices in its turn are affected by the techniques and processes used by the group to arrive at a decision. The process of decision making in teams is more complex than individual decision making, because it has to consider more than one person’s opinion, perception, feelings and attitude. Unless it is the case of autocratic decision making when “the group leader makes decisions alone, using only the information that the leader posses?(Riggio, 1999:328) there are more sophisticated techniques for establishing group decision making.

The researches have distinguished four major techniques for managing group decision making (Vecchio, 1997:374). One of such techniques is Nominal Group Technique where a group’s decision is “derived by pooling the votes or rankings into a single preferred alternative? Another approach is Delphi Technique, which involves a group of experts providing their opinion through the means of surveys. The third technique is Stepladder Technique and it is related to the structure of the group. It helps to avoid social loafing because it gradually introduces a new member to the original group, who has to come up with his or her own preliminary ideas. Finally, there is Expert Systems, which suggests that the actual decision making process should be recorded so that the experts can assess the objectivity and relevancy of information used by a group to arrive at a decision.

Whatever the strategy used by a group is to arrive at a certain decision and consequent choice, the majority of researches agree that the process of decision making will go through the following stages: identifying a goal to be addressed, generating available alternatives and developing decision options, comparing and debating this choices and finally selecting an alternative to be acted upon. If the process of decision making goes through all these phases then it can be assumed that the Rational Model was in place. However if the goals

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