Expectation V Support
May 16, 2024
Things Great Team Mates Say
July 15, 2024
Expectation V Support
May 16, 2024
Things Great Team Mates Say
July 15, 2024

The consensus within a group is one of the most utilised yet misunderstood and misapplied components of the principles of teamwork. In many situations, the belief is that most, if not everything, within a team must be decided by consensus. In my experience, there are already two problems associated with this notion.

i. Not everything needs to be decided by consensus.

ii. You better know what your definition of ‘consensus’ is before you give it the power to have the final say.

Let’s start with my first point:
As you will soon find out, I will not hesitate to take this one. Not everything within the team should be decided by consensus, and for that matter, not every decision should be decided by the whole team—not even close!

Each team, regardless of its reason for being, doesn’t have the required skill, experience, understanding, insight, etc., to make every decision. Each team has a boss, a leader, a mentor, or someone who is ultimately responsible for the direction, purpose, productivity, and performance of the team, and more often than not, there will be and should be times when that leader is the judge, jury, and executioner of the decision-making process.

Second Point:
What is the teams’ combined understanding and definition of what is consensus? Does it mean we all have to agree? Does it mean the majority rules? Does it mean the decision is quashed if there is not 100% support?

The definition and understanding of that definition are critical to the effective use of decision-making by consensus.

From my perspective, consensus has always been the situation in which each person within the group has had the opportunity to hear, discuss, and understand the decision.

It does not mean that everyone has to agree with the decision.

But here is the key to TEAM decision-making by consensus: Once everyone has had the opportunity to hear, discuss, offer alternatives, and understand what is being proposed, and the vote has been cast, even though they might not agree with the decision or final outcome, everyone supports the decision as if they had made it themselves.

This is a big proviso!

It is a key element of a successful team and the basis for any decision-making by consensus that should be formed or allowed to exist.

But before you get to the vote, before the decision is even close to being made, there are a few steps that should be considered:

  1. Understand
    One of the single biggest mistakes I continue to see is that people don’t always understand what they are deciding on. Make sure that everyone knows specifically and exactly what they are being asked to decide. Make sure the parameters for the decision are neither too narrow nor too wide.
  1. Time and clarity
    Without wasting time, procrastinating, or putting off the inevitable, take time to discuss, challenge current thinking, and look for alternatives. The best decision is not always the quickest one, nor is it the one that takes the longest to reach. The best decision is the one that has come from a well-considered and thought-through set of circumstances and understanding.
  2. Understand the reason for questioning
    Many times, people will want to ask questions. Sometimes, these questions are asked to challenge the decision, but many times, they are asked simply because someone doesn’t completely understand. It is important to know and live the difference between the two.
  3. Make the decision easier
    Don’t make the decision-making process harder by offering too many alternatives or a wide or high frame of reference. Find the balance between discarding relevance and making a choice that is too wide.
  4. Keep what you discard
    Open, robust discussion can generate all sorts of ideas, perspectives, experiences, and alternatives. Some might not be useful for this decision, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for other reasons or situations. Keep good notes from the discussions; you will never know when they might become relevant and useful at another time.
  5. The end is the beginning
    Understand that once the decision is made, it is only the beginning, not the end. Assign responsibility around the decision. Decide on timelines and major milestones. Understand and discuss individual and collective responsibility. Devise a process of accountability. If you do all of this, not only is the decision made, but the reason the decision was made comes to fruition.

And as you do, watch as…

The Journey Continues!

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