The results of group decision making can be dismissed by those in positions of influence who are unwilling to give credence to a process which few of them have experienced in a positive light. If a manager has participated in unsuccessful group decision-making processes in the past, he or she is unlikely to embrace decisions coming out of new groups, regardless of how valid those decisions might be. (Migliarese & Paolucci, 1993, p. 33)
There is also the strong disadvantage that participants will become disillusioned if the leader or another influential participant is fulfilling a hidden agenda. In this scenario, what was perceived to be a fair and open process is instead turned into a charade in which decisions have already been made and group participation is provided as a means of placating those who have to implement that decision. If a less than honest approach is taken to the process, the results are not credible.
The effectiveness of a group decision is based in large part on the effectiveness of the group leader. This requires some amount of training in order to prepare the leader for effectively building groups in order to maintain a high quality of the process. If the leader is ineffectual, the group decision making process can deteriorate from a valuable management tool to a large waste of resources. Another disadvantage of group decision making arises from the quality and knowledge base of the various group members.
If the group is put together haphazardly or with more attention to office politics than what each member can contribute, the decisions reached by the group are likely to be questionable. By including individuals with the various technical backgrounds and professional experience, yet avoiding overloading the group with too many individuals with similar backgrounds, organizations can help ensure that they receive the best possible decisions.
One of the most significant disadvantages to the group decision making process is the fact that groups are composed of individuals, and individuals may have personality conflicts or personal problems with each other. In this way, a single individual or a few individuals may come to dominate the group and thus reduce the effectiveness of the process. An effective leader can help reduce this potential, but may himself become overwhelmed by highly dominant personalities without strong management skills.
There are six phases to the decision making process; while some of these steps might overlap in simple decisions, none can be overlooked without compromising the entire process. It is the principal’s role to guide the decision making process and to determine whether it is appropriate to make the decision on his own, or with outside input. The principal also needs to take into account the implementation of the eventual decision; such implementation plans should be part of the decision making process and influence the chosen alternative.
An increased use of work groups and work teams has led to an increased awareness of group decision making. Groups do not eliminate the need for principals, but principals in groups are usually facilitators who ensure that each member is able and permitted to contribute to the group. Even in highly participatory environments, there are some decisions which cannot be delegated to the group process; in these situations, the principal is responsible for making decisions independent of the group. In many situations, however, it is entirely appropriate and even desirable for the group to make decisions.
The benefits of group decision making include better acceptance (and implementation) of the decisions, better decisions through enhanced creativity, and an overall cohesiveness that is difficult to achieve when decisions are made independently. After all this talk of groups, I reluctantly conclude that most often the decision is one “which the principal alone must make,” with input from teachers only when absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, significant benefits come to the school as a whole which is derived from an expanded decision-making process.
The major drawbacks – – – the process takes longer, each individual participates less actively than in an elite situation – – – are outweighed by the fact that when the expanded process arrives at a decision that decision is more swiftly and smoothly implemented. The various sources above speak to several articles and case studies used in the A770 course. If LaBlanc had an exhortation on administration-faculty groups perhaps he would have spent more time at Marlboro and made himself more available to senior staff. The Springfield College President failed to fit into the group culture.
The email from MP1 clearly reinforces the point that even where group decision making exist the group decision is often overridden by the group leader when MP1 selected the AfricanAmerican female Chief Operating Officer candidate. The sources above provide an added dimension to the Bensimon and Neuman article on “Administrative Teams and Team Work”. The paper serves to reinforce Hackman’s statement “Teams composed of people from different units can transcend traditional functional and organizational barriers and get members pulling together toward collective objectives”.