When to Surrender and Take One for the Team
Groupthink for Employees / July 26, 2021

When to Surrender and Take One for the Team As in life, people who never compromise, volunteer, or surrender their own wishes and needs to those of others—well, they might be successful but they surely aren’t popular. And frankly, I doubt they are all that successful either. Purely pragmatically, it is in your best interest to be seen as someone who will take one for the team. Your colleagues like you more and are more likely to help out when you need it. A team willing to give and take is a good place to work, as well as (usually) more effective. We all want to have a job where we love to get into work—being a good team member can contribute to that environment. So when is the right time to surrender and take one for the team? There can be any number of right times, but here are some you might want to consider if we are talking about the previous situation where someone can’t go to a high-value conference. Others have not had the opportunity. You’ve already attended twice. Is there another team member who has attended only once or not at all? Fairness might suggest that…

Are You the Fall Guy for Your Team?
Groupthink for Employees / July 19, 2021

Are You the Fall Guy for Your Team? Being the fall guy has a negative connotation. It can mean dupe but it can also mean taking on an unpalatable task to help your team. Let’s look at an example. You work in a large company with a history of developing its people, but upheavals in the industry have meant cutbacks of all kinds. You’ve been in your job for two years and, every year, the company allows your unit (three of you—YOU, Sacha, and Tim—and your manager—Gwen) to attend the conference in your field. You learn a lot each time and made useful contacts you’ve used in your work. Gwen calls a team meeting. Gwen: I’ve just had a management meeting. The budget is really tight. No lay-offs, at least for now, but they’re cutting back in other ways. You: Like what? Gwen: Well, for one thing, I only have money for three of us to attend the conference later this year. Sacha: One of us can’t go? Gwen: I’m afraid so. Tim: So who? Gwen: (not looking at anyone) Well, I was kind of hoping for a volunteer. Someone who would take one for the team. (Silence) So, should…

Should You Fight the Status Quo? Usually No.
Groupthink for Employees / October 19, 2020

Should You Fight the Status Quo? Usually No. Since groupthink tends to support the status quo and is relatively unfriendly to innovation, isn’t it your duty as an employee of the company to fight it? Certainly, companies need innovation, even if they’re not very good at it. You can count on the fingers of one hand CEOs who say, “No, no—new thinking is not welcome here.” So companies need to minimize groupthink to maximize new ideas. But while it`s good for the company, is it good for you?  Not necessarily You’d hope that suggesting a really innovative idea would have your co-workers hailing you as the new Einstein. Well, might happen but equally possibly, they`ll spend the time explaining why it won`t work. But because you’re so enthusiastic, you keep pushing. If you do it long enough, you might experience an odd phenomenon. The group may see you as generating conflict by your continued persistence insistence. Groups tend not to like and even ostracize those who rock the boat and will often interpret it as a personal failing (“She’s so hard to get along with”) rather than an effort to help the group operate more effectively. Even if they adopt…

Can You Prevent Group Conformity? Maybe.
Dark Side for Employees / October 12, 2020

Can You Prevent Group Conformity? Maybe. Groupthink is a powerful but unseen force in organizations. In our example, you were wise to consider how you would be perceived by the group and it probably didn’t matter that you went along with the majority. But what if the outcome had been really important? Or if you were sure you had the right answer? How could you discourage conformity to open up the discussion? Ways to handle the most common conformity groupthink Groupthink/conformity symptom What you can do Confirmation bias. A group only considers information supporting what it has already decided is true. You can call the group on its actions. “I wonder if we should slow down a bit to be sure we consider all possibilities.  Jessica had a good point. Could you repeat it?” Information cascade. As more people believe, the idea’s legitimacy increases and the desire for other solutions falls.[1] Again, bring the group’s attention to its behavior. “Whoa. I think Dan’s idea has great potential but Beth, you’re the expert in systems architecture. Do you think Dan’s idea will fly?” False consensus effect. Overestimating the commonness of your beliefs and undervaluing opposing views.[2] “I don’t know how common…

How Groupthink Can Get You
Dark Side for Employees / October 5, 2020

How Groupthink Can Get You In the last post, you wanted to generate out-of-the-box ideas but were shot down. You left the meeting feeling vaguely bad, perhaps because your idea never got off the ground. Perhaps, but a much more powerful force had probably doomed your idea from the start: Groupthink. What is groupthink? Groupthink is the tendency of a group to hold the same opinions and views. Sometimes that’s good. For something straightforward, it’s very helpful to coalesce quickly around the task. But this technique is primarily about efficiency—completing the task using the fewest resources in the least time. Unfortunately, organizations are addicted to groupthink and apply it indiscriminately. In our example, the group was aiming for effectiveness—the right solution—not one generated in record time with the fewest people thinking. Did you have a better idea? You may not have, but the key thing is it was never seriously considered. Maybe the Executive Committee really is looking for radical solutions or wants a way into new technology. Because nobody knew exactly what was wanted, a better approach would have been to float both ideas. Why didn’t this happen? Groupthink narrows the options Jeff, perhaps unconsciously but certainly cleverly, uses…