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  • The Dangers of Groupthink – and a Smarter Alternative for Your Business

    03/21/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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    There’s no “I” in groupthink.

    Okay, there IS – which is ironic, because the term, coined in a 1952 article by William H. Whyte, refers to the process of achieving group consensus by minimizing conflict (where’s the “I” in that?). But often, that consensus and “group harmony” comes at a high price for organizations. Here are two of the dangers of groupthink in business teams:

    • Innovation is suppressed. When contrary opinions and individual thinking are thwarted, innovation’s spark is effectively snuffed out. Group members self-censor their ideas and opinions in favor of unanimity.
    • Critical questions go unasked. Groupthink often pressures dissenters to conform to majority opinion. As a result, members miss out on critical evaluation of alternatives. Important “what if” questions may never be asked, nor the ramifications considered – leaving organizations at greater risk for strategic missteps and missed opportunities.

    Not exactly a recipe for business success, right?

    Obviously, completing projects and achieving goals requires team work. How can you balance the levels of connection and esprit de corps your teams need to function at their peak, without compromising the “I” (i.e., the individual insights, creativity and, yes, contrary perspectives needed to keep your organization competitive)?

    Renowned leadership expert and author Kevin Eikenberry proposed a solution in a recent blog post: teamthink. If you’ve never heard of the concept, here’s a quick overview and a few practical benefits this organizational mindset can deliver:

    What is “Teamthink”?

    According to Eikenberry, “Teamthink is the collaborative thinking that comes from people who care about each other and their goal enough to listen carefully, consider options and make the best decision for themselves and those they serve.”

    In simpler terms, it’s a healthier alternative to group decision-making that achieves results without stifling individuals’ input. If groupthink is pervasive in your organization, move toward teamthink by:

    • Galvanizing the goal. As with all team efforts, all members must understand and buy into a goal or purpose that’s greater than themselves.
    • Building relationships. To ensure that individuals aren’t systematically overruled, ignored or discounted, make deliberate efforts to solidify work relationships. This doesn’t mean that all group members have to be friends (or even like one another); it means that they must respect one another professionally and commit to working well together, despite their differences.
    • Creating trust. Self-censoring and rushing to agreement often occurs because individuals don’t feel safe sharing ideas which may be considered unpopular or controversial. Can you blame them? If you want to guard against groupthink, you need to increase trust among team members. Only when you give employees a safe place to listen, brainstorm and exchange ideas without being judged can new opinions and ideas get due consideration.

    Need innovators? Independent thinkers? Team players?

    Exact Staff can deliver the high performers you seek. With a national presence, and a full complement of staffing and placement services, the talent you need is just a phone call away.

    What can we do for you? Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today.

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