Companies from a variety of industries are taking a different approach to the decisions that get made every day. Instead of placing this responsibility in the hands of a single leader, organizations are relying on a group of stakeholders to come to an appropriate consensus. This committee-based approach is most prevalent in larger businesses that want to adopt an inclusive culture, but it is also seen in SMBs all over the world.
The goal of making group decisions is to foster more pride and buy-in from workers. Their diverse perspectives are seen as a hidden asset that can add more strength to each choice.
List of the Advantages of Group Decision Making
1. It allows for nuanced feedback.
When stakeholders have an opportunity to get involved with the decision-making process, then groups can receive specific feedback with more nuance than what would be possible with a unilateral choice. This process makes it easier to solicit ideas from different perspectives and experiences that can lead to better efficiencies.
Even if all of the ideas received from the group decision-making process aren’t implementable, organizations benefit from hearing more options.
2. Group decisions make it easier to understand the needs of a company.
When an organization has a diverse set of perspectives available, then partners, contractors, and vendors have a better idea of what to expect from that company. Established relationships with this diversity lead to stronger bonds with all team members instead of relying on a single point of contact. This advantage makes it easier to understand the different needs and challenges of each department, which eventually results in higher trust levels from workers.
3. Companies aren’t relying on the availability of a single individual.
If one person makes all of the decisions for an organization, then a project can come to an immediate halt if that individual isn’t available. When a group decision-making process is available, then outcomes can continue to proceed even when there is a stakeholder absence to manage. The timelines of a project don’t hinge on the schedule of one person.
Although this issue can be problematic if the procedures or expectations for the group aren’t correctly structured, most organizations find that the diversity from a group outweighs its potential disadvantages.
4. It helps employees to feel like they make valuable contributions.
When leaders seek inputs and feedback from a group of employees from various departments, then it allows people to feel like their needs and opinions are getting heard. The desire to have involvement produces dialogue, encouraging a culture that leads to collaboration. If each person’s opinion is valued at the C-Suite level, then the same result is likely to occur when working with middle management and entry-level supervisors.
5. Group decisions create more acceptance for the eventual outcome.
When a group expresses an opinion or an idea to pursue, then it holds more weight within an organization than if a single individual proposed the same option. This advantage is a direct reflection of the power that consensus provides. When everyone is in general agreement over the goals and processes that must be pursued, then there is more acceptance of the eventual outcome.
Group decisions are assumed to follow a democratic process, whereas the choices of an individual can sometimes be seen as being dictatorial.
6. Collaboration opportunities arise from group decision-making efforts.
Making decisions by committee creates opportunities for collaboration that might not exist otherwise in an organization. The entire team gets to connect with one another to build stronger relationships that can lead to better choices for everyone. It’s a structure that inspires healthy and safe discussions so that the best ideas can come out of this process. Then efficient outcomes occur because individuals experience skill transfers as each person’s knowledge gets absorbed by everyone else in that process.
7. It reduces the amount of effort and risk that each person takes on when making choices.
A group decision-making process spreads out the risk and responsibility throughout the entire committee instead of placing it on the shoulders of a single leader. This advantage reduces the reluctance that can happen in some organizations when critical choices must happen. If there is a consensus available, then failure won’t get blamed on a single individual. That means there is more job safety with this approach, encouraging stakeholders to be more creative in their approach to problems when managing a project.
8. Group decisions allow organizations to benefit from everyone’s expertise.
Teams may have expertise in a variety of areas that can benefit the organization in unique ways. Bringing together people into a committee allows each stakeholder to use their personal and professional experiences so that everyone can benefit. There is even the option to bring outside expertise into the deliberation process so that the group can be responsible for decisions on particular issues.
That means the members of the committee tend to feel more involved with the problem that requires a resolution. This advantage minimizes the resistance that can happen within an organization when tough decisions must get made.
9. It leads the decision-making process away from extremism.
When committees come together to make decisions, then it typically results in an outcome of a compromise. Centrism is the primary focus because that’s the only way to reach a genuine consensus. That makes it more likely for the correct decision to get made for the organization because it decreases the levels of personal influence that take place during this process. Although cliques and groupism can adversely impact the results in some ways, successful outcomes typically create higher levels of morale within the company.
List of the Disadvantages of Group Decision Making
1. There can be varying communication styles that interfere with collaboration.
When you bring a group of people together to make a decision, then it can be challenging to find an appropriate communication method that works for everyone. There could be a period of trial-and-error where a team experiments with emails, conference calls, SMS texting, and in-person meetings to find what works best.
It’s not just the mode of communication that can be a disadvantage in the group decision-making process. Organizations often find that members from different generations can have different expectations with each style of information movement. The way things are said can create as much friction as using a tool that feels inconvenient.
2. Group decisions take longer to make.
When organizations embrace the group decision-making process, then they are looking at a longer time to arrive at an agreement. Adding more stakeholders can yield more discussion and ideas, but it can also become a challenge to align everyone’s schedule to make this process an advantageous one. Companies must build the extra time into their project schedule to avoid falling behind on expectations in this area.
3. It requires each stakeholder to stay up-to-date with information changes.
The group decision-making process can evolve over the course of a project. New people may come into the meetings while others leave. When you need to catch up stakeholders on the latest events that are happening, then it leaves less time for the entire group to debate the matter under consideration.
New employees that just completed the orientation process are often the focus of this disadvantage. Not only do they need to figure out where they belong in the company culture, but these stakeholders also must play catch-up with the available data. It tends to be a tedious process when it isn’t handled appropriately.
4. Group decisions can lead to collective thinking.
Although the goal of a decision by a committee is to harvest the experience and expertise of every stakeholder, it is often the loudest voice in the room that dictates the path toward consensus. Persuasive individuals can get enough support for their ideas, even if that solution isn’t the best path forward for the organization. This issue can lead to inferior outcomes because it still gives one stakeholder more leverage than the rest of the team when coming to a conclusion.
Collective thinking can lead an organization to ruin when there isn’t recognition of a lack of diversity occurring.
5. Inexperience can delay the decision-making process with some groups.
Some individuals may get included with a committee responsible for making decisions without having any relevant experience. Social pressures might cause these individuals to remain silent since they understand that their expertise doesn’t fit into the desired categories for these groups.
That means the committee may experience delays when trying to formulate a path forward on a project. If an inexperienced stakeholder isn’t afraid to share their opinions, then it can lead some groups toward a less optimal conclusion.
6. Some stakeholders may choose not to participate in the committee.
Organizations can’t force people to participate in the group decision-making process. It can encourage stakeholders to attend meetings, but there is no way to control the dialogue that takes place. When someone feels like they don’t want to contribute, then it wastes their time and the resources of the company. It also places the leader in a position where they might need to make a decision by themselves despite the presence of a committee.
One of the biggest contributors to this disadvantage is adversity. If a stakeholder feels like their opinion is contrary to the rest of the group, then they might stay silent rather than risk their status.
7. Committees can come to conclusions that have different priorities.
When committees get tasked with making a decision, then the conclusion that those stakeholders reach might run counter to the mission or vision of the organization. Some teams can go in unexpected directions with their discussions. Organizations might see this opportunity as a positive outcome since it leads to thinking “outside of the box,” but it can also waste time since the focus shifts away from the project or task that requires completion.
When the group decision-making process follows a different set of priorities, then an organization might choose to reject their recommendation. This outcome can lead to disruptive behaviors, reduced effectiveness, and even a collapse of stakeholder support.
8. It can reduce individual accountability for the eventual outcome.
Individual stakeholders are often quick to take credit when good things happen, but they are hesitant to be responsible for adverse outcomes. The reduction of individual accountability is a potential disadvantage that works in both directions for an organization. When people don’t get to take full credit for any idea, then they can be less likely to share their perspectives in the future because they’ll need to share the outcome with the rest of the committee.
When a poor outcome occurs, then everyone in the committee receives some of the blame for the situation. If a stakeholder didn’t support the idea that got implemented and also receives criticism for their role, then high levels of resentment can happen.
9. Committees can cause improper distributions of power.
When employees feel like they’re empowered to make decisions or share experiences with their employer, then that perspective can translate to the rest of their work. It can make some stakeholders feel like they should be in a leadership position. These individuals might try to carve out places of independence within their job descriptions that give them more autonomy at the expense of consistency. This issue can lead to high levels of resentment within the rest of the team if the manager or C-Suite doesn’t step in to correct the situation.
The big advantages and disadvantages of group decision making show that there are some best practices that organizations can implement to achieve excellent results. Committees should only be as big as they need to be, with timelines managed accordingly to focus on productivity. Choices must focus on data, and the consequences of a late decision must get clearly communicated from the start.
The organizations that establish the clearest expectations for communication typically see the most rewards from committees responsible for making decisions. Try to set multiple small goals instead of having a single, large one.
Then encourage everyone to collaborate as they work. Diversity only provides strength when organizations see this trait as an asset.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.