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D—Decision-Making—With Your Teammates

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE

How decisions are made has a lot to do with how effective the decisions turn out to be.

  1. There are many ways to make decisions with your team. Most commonly, decisions can be made by

    • one person, such as your boss, or a few people (minority);

    • most of your teammates (majority);

    • the support of everyone (consensus).

  2. Appreciate that you cannot be involved in every decision, nor should you be. Minority decisions should be made when

    • there is an emergency;

    • time does not permit any discussion;

    • health and safety are issues;

    • you have an expert on your team who is best qualified to deal with that issue.

  3. The support of the majority of people is an effective decision-making process when

    • a decision is required quickly;

    • there are too many people to negotiate a consensus;

    • the issue is very divisive.

  4. Decisions that impact your entire team should be made by consensus.

  5. If your team members want to reach a consensus, let them know the place and time for the meeting in advance. With a few days' notice, they will have time to consider alternative ideas and arrive at the meeting having made an informed choice.

  6. Invite a facilitator to help you through the process. Alternatively, one of the team members can take this neutral role.

  7. At the meeting, the team can reach consensus quickly using the nominal group technique. This technique consists of eight steps. The facilitator should:

    • Set a goal. "We want to reach consensus on finding the [pick a number] best "

    • Get agreement to the process. Ask participants if they will support the majority. Any other constraints should also be agreed to.

    • Allow people to collect their thoughts and ideas. Participants record their ideas on a piece of paper.

    • Collect ideas by round robin. Team members take turns stating their ideas. These ideas are recorded on the flip chart without discussion.

    • Clarify and lobby. Evaluate key ideas in greater detail. If you have a long list, vote to establish the top five. Allow time for people to express their support for ideas, finding out why they feel the way they do.

    • Take a vote. Participants make their choices and the choices are assigned a score. For example, first choice gets five points, second choice gets three points, third choice gets one point. Alternatively, members can vote on all items that they consider significant.

    • Tally the votes. Count the votes for each idea and identify the top choice(s).

    • Check for consensus. Check to see if everyone agrees with the majority or at least supports the most popular choice.

  8. If the team cannot reach a consensus, you may

    • look for a compromise;

    • review the top two or three issues and revote.

  9. If rigidity persists, you might pass the decision to your boss. Generally, people will find this acceptable when they did have a chance to reach a consensus first.


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