How do you make decisions in this team? A few days ago, I asked this question to a team of students working on a not-so-simple project for one of my classes.
By majority vote – they said. We talk about the problem and then we vote.
And what happens if you are not all there to make the decision? Then we wait until we can meet.
When I talk to teams that do not have a manager, whether they are professional or amateur teams, this is the most common answer. They naturally agree to make decisions this way, even without really discussing the matter. For many of them, this is the fairest way. And yet, this may not be true.
There are some decision-making principles that are worth examining if we want our team to be more effective. This is about defining the decision-making process.
First, consider the nature, severity, and timeframe of the problem. Not everything is the same and requires the same treatment. We might even find that certain things do not require our attention.
How well we catalog these three factors can determine the power of our team’s decision-making process. At this point, it should be clear that we shouldn’t use the same method for all decisions.
Once we know the nature of the problem, we should ask who should make the decision. There are problems that require debate and consensus, while others can be solved by a single person.
Being clear about how to proceed, depending on the case, instills a sense of security and autonomy in each member of the team. It also helps increase accountability while improving efficiency.
Depending on the nature of the problem and who is responsible for making the decision, there may be different methods for making decisions. If the decision requires the participation of the whole group, we can make it by majority vote, consensus, or consent.
The first two are common to many teams; the only difference is the number of people who should agree with the solution. The third has some differences and many advantages.
In a consent decision, everyone reviews the proposed solution, and unless they can improve it by explaining why and how, all members must agree. In other words, unless you have a better idea to discuss, you go along even if you don’t agree 100%.
This is a constructive way to make decisions because no one can disagree without contributing, and it goes further than the familiar disagree and commit. It is more like disagree, contribute, and commit.
When we build a team, it is important to be clear about how we make decisions. When people are involved in the decision-making process, motivation and commitment increase.