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Why Team Members Should Be Involved in Decision-Making

How to increase team member commitment.

Key points

  • Team decision-making increases the quality of decisions, leading to a well-thought-out course of action.
  • Involving team members in decision-making increases their satisfaction and commitment to the decision.
  • The team decision-making process can help communicate direction and clear up any misunderstandings team member may have.

Decades of research have clearly shown that involving team members in important work-related decisions has many benefits. From the organization’s perspective, allowing team members a voice in the decision-making process leads to greater commitment to the chosen course of action. Not all members may be in agreement on the correct course, but allowing them to air their opinions and perspectives can increase team member satisfaction.

But that’s not all. If decisions are complex, allowing team members to share their perspectives and ideas can increase the critical evaluation needed for high-quality decisions.

From the team member’s perspective, having a voice in decision-making not only increases member satisfaction and acceptance of the decision but also communicates that they are valuable members of the team and organization. Moreover, such meaningful conversations about workplace topics can provide important information about the direction of the organization, and employees can “see the future” and be more committed to sticking with the organization. It also allows leaders to see where there may be some misunderstandings or confusion on the part of team members and allows the opportunity to clarify what’s going on. The end result, hopefully, is alignment between where the organization’s leaders and its members are going and how they think about conditions moving forward.

Here are some tips for leaders to facilitate team decision-making.

  • Ask Provocative Questions. This helps the leader understand what team members currently know, can help clarify any misunderstandings, and can lead to important contributions from team members based on their “on-the-ground” experiences.
  • Consider the Best Decision-Making Strategy. Instead of traditional, top-down decisions, think about how final decisions should be made. How “democratic” do you want or need to be? Do you want the majority of team members to be in agreement? A near consensus – where everyone agrees? Or, will a simple majority backing the decision be enough? Consider when, why, and how you might veto a decision backed by a majority of team members.
  • Realize That Team Decision-Making Is a Valuable Communication Opportunity. All too often, leaders in organizations “under-communicate.” There are many reasons for this. Sometimes a leader may believe team members already know what’s going on (when, in actuality, they don’t fully understand). Some leaders may only give out information on a “need-to-know basis.” In some instances, it may simply be an oversight. In any case, it’s best for leaders to err on the side of over-communicating. Make sure to keep team members informed about what’s happening and why. And, don’t be concerned about repeating yourself. It not only reinforces team members’ knowledge, and it demonstrates your commitment and concern.

References

Kerr, Norbert L., and R. Scott Tindale. "Group performance and decision-making." Annual review of psychology 55, no. 1 (2004): 623-655.

Riggio, R. E. & Johnson, S.K. (2022). Introduction to industrial/organizational psychology. (8th ed.). Routledge.

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