Methods Of Decision-Making for Teams

While a decision within organizations often relies on facts and data, teams must agree upon a method of decision-making based on that data. They ensure that the decisions are made with a process and purpose that the team can utilize to make the best possible decision with the given facts and data.

There are many decision-making styles, and two methods must be chosen as guideposts. The team must agree on the primary method, and a backup method must also be selected. The methods can and will vary from the people and stakeholders making the decision and the knowledge of the facts and data that the team possesses when making the decision.

Below is a decision-making spectrum, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

decision-making in teams
Authoritarian Decision Making

Authoritarian decision-making is a decision placed in the hands of one person who chooses quickly and without regard for input from others. Typically this method is utilized in a crisis and calls for an immediate decision or when the decision is mundane.

  • Quick decisions are made when the leader may possess more information than those affected by the decision.
  • When the team leader has the trust and “best interest” of those affected by the decision.
  • The speed of the decision being made, the decision can be made quickly
  • The decision is not watered down with compromises
  • The decision lacks the involvement of those who are affected
  • Those affected have a decreased chance for “buy-in” to decisions made
  • Likelihood of incorrect decision based on poor judgment and wrong facts
Consultative Decision Making

Consultative decision-making is the type where decision-making power is in the hands of one person, and the person actively solicits the ideas, suggestions, and opinions of others.

  • People affected by the decision are sought out for their input, allowing for greater buy-in to the ultimate decision.
  • A better and more knowledgeable decision can be made by seeking input from varied sources.
  • It takes longer
  • Buy-in of the final decision with the consultative method only occurs if the decision maker finally decides on your input.
  • If the decision maker already has a predetermined choice in mind and is only “going through the motions,” showing a false consultative style, this method backfires rapidly.
Consensus Decision Making

Many misconceptions haunt consensus; it is neither a tool for total agreement among the team nor a type of voting. The consensus decision-making method dictates that all parties involved have input on the decision. Whatever agreement is reached (i.e., compromise) will not be sabotaged by the team.

  • Full participation by the entire team; involves total involvement of the team.
  • Full participation increases buy-in to the decision made
  • With input from the whole team, the ultimate decision is not made until there is an agreement, therefore, showing buy-in from all team members.
  • Necessitating buy-in from the entire team takes longer
  • The final decision made is often “watered down.”
Majority Voting

Consensus will often prove not to be a viable option. Therefore a backup is usually needed majority vote is a suitable backup. Majority voting is rarely ever used as the primary decision-making method.

  • The decision can be made with a less watered-down solution
  • The speed of the decision can be increased following a lengthy consensus process
  • Voting creates winners and losers
  • Those who lose may be more inclined to sabotage the decision, creating the possibility that whatever decision is reached will not be adequately implemented.
100% Agreement

When a diverse team is asked to decide that a 100% agreement is ever indeed reached, it is a rarity. Thus it is strongly recommended that this method should never be used, not even as a backup.

Click for a case study about using a shared and known process for making team-based decisions.