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Working in diverse teams
Working in diverse teams

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4 Decision making

One of the main functions of a team is to make decisions together. These decisions benefit from the diversity within a group, but it is also this diversity which can make this process difficult. For the decision-making process to work well it is important that all members of the team are clear about how decisions will be made, who will make the decision and how team members will be involved in this process. Knowing and agreeing how decisions will be made helps to ensure support and commitment to the decision.

Image of three hands showing different gestures.
Figure 4 Decision making

Different models of decision-making include:

  1. Team leader decides – this may be a good option if the team is short of time or the decision is one that everyone would agree with should they have been involved in the process.
  2. Team leader gets the input of the group and then decides – this kind of decision making benefits from using the expertise of the group and the diversity of ideas when compared to the first model.
  3. Consensus decisions – here the group share their opinions and reach agreement over the best way forward. While this type of decision making takes more time it can lead to much stronger support from the team.

Activity 5 Recalling decision-making episodes

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

As in previous activities, for this activity you need to think about a team you are currently part of or have had experience of in the past. If you have little in the way of team experience at this time then think of any group that you have been part of in helping to making decisions, such as a family group. It could be a decision about what to have for dinner, for example, or where to go on holiday.

Based on your chosen example, ask yourself the following questions and make some notes.

  • How are decisions made in your team?
  • Who is involved and in what ways?
  • What has been effective about the processes you have used?
  • How could your decision-making process be improved?
  • What happens if a group member is unhappy with a decision made by the group?
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You may find that the group or team you considered used different decision-making models at different times. This is quite usual as often a team may not have the time to reach full consensus and some decisions can be made in a variety of ways depending on the needs and demands on the team. While a decision reached by consensus is the best kind of decision for buy-in and support from team members, it cannot always be used as the process can be time consuming.