In the beginning, businesses form based on decisions made by their founders. But as organizations grow, more people get involved as employees and partners. It’s inevitable that one day, companies will reach a crossroads. And before they can proceed down a chosen route, they must pick it. This is how smart decision-making drives growth, progress and innovation.
But effective group decision-making in the workplace can be tricky. If parameters are overly broad, the process can become convoluted—like a town hall meeting where everyone is speaking over one another and nobody is satisfied with the outcome. Narrow parameters tend to exclude even those who are most affected.
Keep reading to learn more about why savvy decision-making is so crucial for modern companies and how to establish guidelines suitable for your organizational needs.
Decision-Making Helps Define Company Culture
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to making business decisions. Each company takes a different tack. But just like decisions fuel company culture, a company’s inherent organizational culture determines how decisions get made in the first place.
For example, you may run a company with a traditional hierarchical structure. This means leaders deliberate and hand down verdicts; much of the process is opaque to lower employees. Other companies prize transparency and collaboration, so they may try to reach a consensus throughout the ranks.
It’s worth thinking about your company’s cultural goals now. Are your decision-making processes reinforcing them? Or are you striving for one thing while practicing another?
Make Sure Everyone Has Enough Information
Before you can even think about calling a vote, you need to lay the groundwork. Make sure everyone involved receives clear, honest information—and gets enough time to digest it. Any misunderstandings or biases people have during the research stages will manifest themselves during the vote, so it’s important to prioritize transparency and honesty here. If the decision involves complicated logistics or far-reaching ramifications, take some extra time to educate participants on their options.
Consider breaking each possibility into clear-cut facts, data points, advantages and disadvantages. As Chron writes, “Groups tend to make better decisions when they develop skills in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats presented by an option.”
Long story short: Giving participants time to prepare and the materials they need ahead of formal decision-making sessions will improve outcomes. If you’re holding a company-wide vote on whether to add onto your current building or move to a larger one, disseminate pros and cons. Provide construction estimates. Forecast timelines. Provide mock renderings. Discuss implications for parking, workspace and equipment. Only then will you be able to host an informed vote, whether it’s for three executives or 500 employees.
Implement a Decision-Making Model That Works
Now it’s time to act. You want efficient, transparent outcomes. That’s why live polls work so well for group decision-making. Since everyone involved can utilize a computer or mobile device to participate, and results appear onscreen immediately, nobody feels left out. The results are clear and timely, meaning everyone gets on the same page faster. And, since it’s all anonymous, it reduces the likelihood of groupthink skewing your results.
Your organization may choose to use the process of elimination, meaning you’ll narrow down the pool of options with each round of voting. Or, you may hold one vote with a winner-takes-all result. However, you decide to structure your vote, make sure participants understand which model you’ll be using ahead of time so it’s fair the first time around. Do-overs only cast doubt on your organization’s ability to reach a valid consensus.
The guidelines for effective group decision-making in the workplace boil down to these: provide participants with the information they need, define your voting process and utilize an anonymous live poll to collect results.