Groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages individual responsibility, limits collaboration and decreases creativity.

 

Have you ever been in a situation where a leader or co-worker offers up an idea and everyone agrees without much discussion? Some people may not view this as a problem, but this is an example of groupthink. Groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages individual responsibility, limits collaboration and decreases creativity.

An intentional approach at avoiding groupthink helps employees work better as a team, so read on below for some practical tips on how to ensure the individual voices within your group are being valued and heard.

Build a diverse team

It all starts with your hiring practices. The more you embrace diversity, the wider the range of resources and expertise among your team. And this ultimately promotes better problem solving among peers.

Tip: Many organizations use tools like StrengthsFinder or the DiSC assessment to celebrate different communication styles within the team.

Embrace conflict

When you welcome employees with diverse backgrounds and styles, you can expect some conflict. As leaders, it is important for you to embrace disagreement because it often leads to productive discussions that promote individual thinking.

Tip: Talk openly about how conflict is OK and encourage employees to have open dialogue and agree to disagree.

Increase awareness

The first step towards avoiding groupthink is ensuring employees know what it is and when/why it might occur.

Tip: Have a staff-wide conversation about how to spot and limit groupthink. Allow employees to engage in ways they are most comfortable by collecting questions before/after meetings, having smaller group discussions and allowing 1:1 time to address any concerns, especially with those who are tentative to speak in front of their peers.

Play devil’s advocate

Encourage team members to question decisions made in a group setting. When you provide a space for open dialogue it encourages individuals to think outside the box.

Tip: Assign a couple of individuals to play devil’s advocate during discussions to ensure all sides of the argument are being covered. This may seem counterintuitive, but it can be presented in an affirmative way! Ensure respect between employees is upheld, and questions are formed in a positive manner.

 

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