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Our clients often hear us say, “Decide how to decide.” It’s a reminder that the process, not just the decision, has lasting effect. So we outline five types of team decisions as a start.
While no one likes to receive an edict from their boss or team leader, high performance teams count on the individual’s solo decision from time to time. A sports example is all we need to emphasize how, as the circumstances arise, the individual who has the best shot should take that shot. I always smile when a Rick Carlisle or a Jason Garrett says, “We just have to make good decisions.”
Minority decisions are those that require less than half the team to seek the relevant information, weigh the options, and make the decision. This might be the appropriate method because those few people have all the information, skill, knowledge, and experience required for a solid decision and can make it in less time than involving the whole team.
Majority decisions are just what you’d think: 50% plus 1. And yes, the process usually involves voting between a couple of options on the table. We ask for a show of hands. The winning option gets the most votes and that’s what we agree to support.
Consensus is not majority, though we see many teams act as if they are the same. Practically speaking, consensus means we’ve all been a part of the process of considering the information, weighing the alternatives, and contributing to the discussion, and the best answer we can all “live with” is our consensus decision. As practitioners, we distinguish consensus from unanimity or concordance because, in fact, it might not have been everybody’s favorite, but everybody agrees it’ll work and they’ll support it.
Finally, concordant decisions, aka unanimity, are those where everyone agrees 100%. The process to reach a unanimous decision is usually lengthy and very thorough to reach full accord. We recommend reserving this type of decision for the most critical opportunities.
If you’re unhappy with the outcome of a recent decision, take a look at the way the decision was made. Were you intentional about the process and the type of decision used? Did it build trust and credibility? Were the right people involved?
There are more types of decisions and decision-making processes we can explore. Meanwhile, we hope this is a primer for boosting your team’s outcomes while building mutual trust.