A while back, we were working with an employee-management group as they planned a joint project. We had been with them as they tried to determine how to proceed. Initially, there had been reservations from both sides about whether to undertake the project, but this seemed to be resolved. While planning was still necessary, the group appeared to be in agreement with what needed to be done.
At a subsequent meeting the process nearly came to a halt. One of the group members raised concerns with how the project would be rolled out to the workforce. As the person raised concerns, both old and new, the impact was a setback to the process.
My concern is not that these new issues were raised, it is when it happened. The person who raised the concerns was present at the last meeting and seemed to go along with the decisions made at that time. While I believe the group will still be able to conduct their project, the process has been slowed and some trust has been lost.
It is essential that, as a group member, if you have concerns about the direction of the group or decisions being made, these concerns must be raised and addressed as they first arise. As in this case, the concerns that were raised were valid and needed to be considered. By holding back and not mentioning them at the previous meeting, the progress of the group was held back. Members who had been planning the next steps now had to revert to items they thought had been resolved.
Sometimes, group members may be reluctant to speak up about their concerns. They may not want to “rock the boat” for the rest of the team. This should not be a concern, and will help the team make better decisions.
We encourage groups to make decisions by consensus, and this is possible only if everyone is willing to speak up. When someone is holding out, it can hamper not just the effectiveness of the decision being made, but also the future work of the team.
Teams cannot make good decisions without considering all relevant information. Withholding information for any reason impairs decision making ability. If the lack of information yields a decision that is less than optimum, members may end up questioning their ability to solve problems together and be reluctant to try again.
Sitting passively and going along is often called “Groupthink”, and is detrimental to any team. Even if the new concerns are determined to be unfounded, the team needs to come together to make that determination.
Group members should be willing to raise any issues about the decisions being made by the group or the process being used. It is important for all group members to speak up, and concerns should be raised in as timely a manner as possible. Doing this will prevent making the group return to decisions that had already been made in earlier meetings.
As part of a group be willing to speak up, be heard, and let you concerns be known. A better, stronger group process can result.