Is Too Much Consensus Ruining Your Decisions?

Is Too Much Consensus Ruining Your Decisions?

July 5, 2018 by Tony Nguyen

Given a choice, most leaders would opt for a team that can agree and make decisions easily over one that disagrees and challenges one another. But is consensus really a good thing in the workplace?

On the surface it may look like a sign of a healthy culture, but in fact it’s the opposite. Decisions that are made without robust discussion and differences of opinion are rarely measured or considered. Instead, they’re more likely to be riskier and heavily influenced by others.

So how can you stop consensus from ruining your decisions? In this article we’ll share 3 tips to help you identify when consensus is a problem and show you how to encourage the healthy and vibrant debates and discussions that lead to good decisions.

Groupthink Hampers Decision-Making

While group decision-making does require an agreement to move forward, the path to that unanimous decision is vitally important. An environment where team members sit back and nod in agreement, and are reluctant or unwilling to share their views, inevitably leads to poor, biased and risky decisions. It is when thoughts and opinions are shared and challenged that the best choices are made.

When a decision is made by a group, the individuals who are part of it have a much-diminished sense of personal responsibility. This creates a situation where team members fall into the trap of groupthink, going with the flow, even if it’s against their values or better  judgement. If this sounds familiar, it’s important that you turn it around. Lead from the front by starting open and honest discussions and be bold enough to make difficult decisions when required, even if they are not popular.


When a decision is made by a group, the individuals who are part of it have a much-diminished sense of personal responsibility.

Spirited Discussions Lead to Better Outcomes

The best group decisions are made in an environment where spirited conversations are encouraged. When ideas and views are shared, and questions are asked it creates an openness and energy that naturally advances the decision-making process. This allows everyone involved to consider the problem from a range of perspectives and paves the way for balanced and well-informed decisions.

In the longer term, this also sets the tone for a culture shift where open and honest discussions are a normal and expected part of the decision-making process and agreeing for the sake of agreeing is discouraged.

Too much consensus is not always a good thing

Sometimes Decisions are Best Made by an Individual

While we often lean towards shared decision-making, it’s important to be able to recognise that it’s not always the best option. In certain situations, it can be far better to pass the responsibility to an individual who has all the facts and knowledge required to make the right choice.

An example may be where there a decision needs to be made immediately. In this scenario there is no time to consult the group, so finding the right person to decide on behalf of the others is obviously the best option. There are many other everyday examples, and as a leader, identifying which decisions can be more efficiently handled by an individual rather than a group is an ongoing challenge.


Final Word on Consensus in the Workplace

If you’ve noticed a little too much consensus creeping in to the decision-making process in your workplace, act fast to steer things back on course. Encourage open discussions, shared ideas and challenging questions. Be brave with your own decisions, making balanced choices based on what’s right, even when it’s not popular with the group. And don’t be afraid to hand the reins to the right individual when the situation calls for it.


If you’re ready to accelerate your career or are looking for the right finance or hr professional to help grow your business, get in touch with the Reo team today.

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