What is groupthink? Explain with reference to the antecedents, symptoms, problems, and consequences, and how these aspects are related. What measures can be taken to avoid or lessen the impact of groupthink?
Understanding Groupthink and Its Implications and Solutions
Groupthink is an exciting concept in team management. Delving in this subject is critical in helping leaders and human resource managers handle their teams more effectively. Therefore, this paper focuses on groupthink, emphasising its antecedents, symptoms, problems, consequences, and mitigating steps to take.
In brief, groupthink refers to the processes observed in a group leading to malfunctioning due to members obsessive tendency to achieve unanimity while solving a problem. The attitude is so subtle that most leaders and followers do not realise it. Due to the obsession with team unity, groups end up making serious mistakes and bad decisions. Most people also do not realise that this pitfall occurs in daily life.
Groupthink has several antecedents, which people often ignore. For example, members of a particular group tend to maintain close relationships. Additionally, leaders with immense power take their sides during a discussion. Also, groups with this mindset tend to shield themselves from external influences. Due to these attitudes, members who suffer from groupthink problems lack the requisite self-confidence to propose anything that might offend others. When faced with situations, groupthink individuals consider feasible solutions impossible. Moreover, the groupthink mindset ends being a threat to the entire group.
Although it was initially mentioned that groups with this mindset do not perceive it due to its subtlety, leaders could assess some symptoms to detect it. Typically, people with a groupthink mentality consider themselves superior to other factions. I can attest to this truth because I once belonged to a football team that perceived itself as the best yet kept losing to the rivals it considered inferior. Another symptom of groupthink is the unfounded belief that everyone should agree with their ideas. This insistence leads to conflict, culminating in dysfunction. Leaders should further identity groupthink by checking if there is compulsion by some members. Ordinarily, groups coerce all members to adopt a similar position instead of fostering divergent views.
In addition, groupthink factions try to give their leaders plausible deniability. This is done on the assumption that a leader should be protected. In other words, members withhold some information, which they consider unhelpful or unpleasant to their leaders. Although some leaders appreciate this perceived defence, Akhmad et al. (2021, p. 455) warn that the insulation proves detrimental when a group makes decisions that lead to unimaginable consequences. Groupthink further promotes the stereotype of those outside it. Instead of considering the views expressed by others, members with a groupthink mindset are quick to prioritise their egos. Due to this egoistical behaviour, groupthink translates into the false belief that nothing will go wrong. In light of these symptoms, a leader must analyse if a team displays any and take proactive steps.
Some managers justify groupthink while overlooking the apparent problems of this philosophy. Firstly, groupthink encourages a culture of overlooking alternatives that would solve a problem quicker. As a result, groups stagnate to generate possible solutions. Secondly, preferences expressed by members are not questioned, with leaders choosing to maintain the status quo. Thirdly, the information obtained in a groupthink initiative is never sufficient to address a matter. In case the information is gathered, it is not evaluated accordingly. Instead, partiality characterises the process. I agree with this observation because I once saw all members in a group refusing to criticise a viewpoint proposed by an individual deemed as influential. Other challenges of groupthink include the fact that members do not predict and proactive prepare for setbacks.
Groupthink accounts for a dysfunctional team, and this view is based on personal experiences. For example, I was once part of a class group that needed to complete assignments within two weeks. However, we spent the first week trying to achieve unanimity, with each person believing that we all had to agree on everything. Consequently, we lost grades since the time was insufficient to complete the work. Our outcomes align with the existing literature, which shows that teams that experience groupthink become unproductive to an organisation (Akhmad et al., 2021, p. 455). Therefore, groupthink hinders a team from achieving its goals.
How to Avoid or Lessen the Impact of Groupthink
Despite the problems and consequences of groupthink, some measures could be taken to minimise its impact. First, a manager should select an impartial leader who does not compel members to accept a particular position. Second, hiring someone with a divergent viewpoint could also lessen the impact of groupthink. Such an individual would focus on challenging a team to focus on other ideas instead of seeking unanimity. Third, executives should insist on collecting opinions independently, collective responsibility, and avoiding relying heavily on experts (Emmerling & Rooders, 2020). Implementing the proposed strategies will create an environment for everyone to express ideas without the urge to impress anyone.
In closing, groupthink is a concept that fosters an obsession with unanimity but has significant implications on a team and organisation. Due to members insistence on uniformity and unity, teams do not achieve their intended aims. Instead, much time is spent trying to appease every group member. Consequently, a team becomes dysfunctional and unhelpful to a company. However, leaders could alleviate the implications of this habit by selecting leaders with diverse opinions. Such individuals should also remain impartial while interacting with a group. It is also imperative that the top executive collects views independently and avoids the pitfall of over-relying on experts. Using these tactics will make the team productive.