Development Cooperation Handbook/How do we manage the human resources of programmes and projects?/Decision Making in Groups

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The nature of a team and the attitudes of its members are often shaped by the way decisions are made.

Each team will have official and unofficial leaders. Other members will also have opinions. Numerous decisions will have to be made as the team works toward its goal. Each decision is a chance for the team to grow stronger—or fracture.

In a “perfect” system, all team members would have a vote in every decision, and each “vote” would be unanimous. Everyone would agree on what had to be done. Perfection, however, is rare. As a rule, there are three ways to come to a decision.

1. Imposed. The official leader, or someone outside of the team, will decide what to do based on the team’s input. This can make team members feel unappreciated, that their input has been ignored, and that they have wasted their time, even those in favor of the final decision.

2. Voting. Team members feel that they do have a voice, even if they are outvoted. It is simple, quick, and does lead to a definite decision, but it can create division and a winner-loser mentality among team members.

3. Consensus. This is generally the most effective, but it can also be the most time consuming. It allows every member to be heard, all points of view to be discussed. It does not mean every member supports it 100 percent, but because of the process it does usually leads to a decision that every member of the team can support. Consensus does not mean unanimity. This is especially important if the team is going to continue working together to implement the decision.


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