According to Robert Harris, (2009) decision making is the process or the study of identifying and choosing the best alternatives and best fits the goals, values and the desired outcome. He further adds that it's a process of sufficiently reducing uncertainty and doubt about alternatives to allow a reasonable choice to be made from among them.
It is worth noting that groups, be they informal or formal groups, will always be found in each and every organization. It is one of the strongest organizations within organizations that cannot fade away since they give the people involved a sense of security, self-esteem, power, achievement, affiliation and even status to some extent. It is then incumbent upon the management to tap into the group dynamics to use it to the advantage of the organization. The top management must encourage people to work as a team and go beyond just being a group.
The groups that we belong to are all about decision making on daily basis and we are all part of a group in one way or the other and the various group dynamics cross out paths each time we engage ourselves ion one group or the other. In respect to this paper, my college group will be the basis of my approach and will give an in-depth view of the experiences and lessons that I derived from the group that I have been working with for the last one academic year.
1.1 Evolution of the group/team over the term
From the inception of the group at the beginning of the group work engagements, the team had little idea about the personalities of the members of the group, there was a lose relationship that was purely based on the issues to be discussed or the research to be conducted and each person went his way after that.
This changed with time as the group members got more and more acquainted with each others' personality and there was more understanding that grew among the group members. This meant that the group members did not just talk about the real academic issue in the meetings but there was opening and closing issues and comments that had nothing to do with the matter being discussed.
In the process, there grew several contentious sections of disagreements, discontent as well as too much unanimity on an issue that made it uncomfortable for the group members to carry on before such were looked into. Decisions could be delayed and direction of the assignments derailed during such times. However, after the team learnt to tolerate the digressions and distractions, there grew a quick way of fixing problems and overcoming obstacles and the group reached a point, I can say it matured and was beyond distractions that were unnecessary.
1.3 Group/team dynamics
The term group dynamics has been used over many years and in varying disciplines like sociology, communication studies and psychology. A group is defined as two or more people who have a common bond that is based on a social relationship. Since the member of a group interact in regular basis and in the process influence each other, they are bound to develop some dynamic processes that will help separate them from any other random groupings out there who do not qualify to be referred to as a team or group.
The commonly known dynamics that are found in teams are roles, norms, relations, need to belong, development, effects on behavior and the social influence. It is apparent that the members of a group will fulfill something more than just accomplishing the tasks that they are assigned and this is when the group can be said to be undergoing the 'group process' i.e. The understanding of the behavior of the team members who are trying to solve a problem (American City Business Journals, 2009). This is very significant since the allocation of roles in the group purely relies on the personality of each individual and this cannot be possible unless there is understanding of these personalities by each member of the group.
A group that will bear many results is one that there is balance of personalities as well. This is the inclusion of each member of the team in the process of the team work. There must be deliberate effort to include the most silent person in the discussion just as to moderate the very talkative person in the group.
A good group will also recognize the diversity that there is in the group in terms of sex, race, age, culture, religion and many other factors and utilize these traits, or encourage each other to make use of the diversity that exists in the group for the good of the group. It is also significant to note that the management of group dynamics can emerge from any part of the group and that the person selected to be the head of the group may not be necessarily the best person for the job. The group is entirely responsible for their own effectiveness (Ann Marie N. & Joyce S., 2009).
However, James L. Gibson et.al (2011; 389) argues that the overall team effectiveness can be achieved through job design methods which will increase the motivation of the team members at the workplace. He argues that appropriate work team job design can lead the teams and the organization in general to higher levels of productivity, managers' judgment of effectiveness and employee satisfaction.
Since teams exist primarily to solve problems, it is significant to know the various methods that teams can use to reach decisions on problems that they encounter. The following are some of the major ways that team dynamics can be managed towards making decisions on problems or challenges;
Delphi Technique; this method was developed in 1991 by Norman Daley and his associates at the RAND Corporation. Questionnaires are developed and administered to the respondents, their responses analyzed by a group of people normally the experts. Before the decision is arrived at, there must be a consensus between the members of the group. Its sub-component therefore involves expert decision making and consensus decision making processes. This method was rarely used in our group since most of the differences in opinion never went that far as to necessitate the use of questionnaires (The Internet Journal of Health, 2009).
Interacting Group Technique; this involves meeting of face-to-face with the members of the group to exchange ideas and opinions after the development of an agenda. Before an open and interactive discussion kicks off, the problem is identified and recognized. The interactions and the discussions held thereon, actually involves processes like brainstorming and storyboarding. This was a method that was used quite a lot by our discussion team especially in instances where there were differences in understanding one concept that gave rise to variation in opinions.
Nominal Group Technique; this is a more structured method than the interactive one. It was developed in 1968 to eliminate much of the interpersonal exchange of the interactive group teams. It is nominal in the sense that members are not allowed to communicate verbally but put down their communication on a piece of paper (Journal of Management Development, 1989).
Thereafter the active discussion can begin clarifying ideas and finally the outcome of the team discussion is determined by secret voting. So majority votes take the lead hence decision making process is by majority votes (Illinois University Extension, 2011). This was a method that out team used once in awhile especially on the technical subjects or technical topics that involved calculations or figures and the group members never seemed to agree on one answer.
Collective Decision making; this category of decision-making process is practiced by averaging individuals who cannot agree on a particular tabled agenda. This happens when the group commitment to implement the decision is very low and no lengthy interactions are required. In arriving at the conclusion, the leader gathers opinions from group members and through consultations with them, he makes the decision. This is a viable method of solving problems though it was never used in our group since most of our challenges had to be sorted out through discussion.
Programmed Decision Making; this is a decision aided program based on computers, to assist individuals to make decisions using the decision support system software's like decision support software or decision tree software for either group support, personal support or organizational support. This is a new invention and much more advanced method that was not used by our group since there was not a single situation that arose and called for such a radical method.
Bearing that our team was one that was based on the academic endeavors as an outstanding characteristic, there was a lot of brainstorming that was employed as a group dynamic in order to ensure that each and every member got involved in the team process.