Where a range of acceptable styles exist factors other than those in the “dimensions” need to be included

Where a range of acceptable styles exist factors other than those in the “dimensions” need to be included.

The Need to be Flexible

The situational approach to analyzing decisions highlights the inherent weakness in the rigid adoption of one particular decision style. There is no single decision style that is appropriate for all types of decision.

It would seem therefore that rather than let long term issues of style override the needs of a particular decision, the more effective approach is to:

(1)      Determine the type of decision being faced by considering the four dimensions of “Quality”, Information”, “Commitment” and “Capability”.

(2)      Isolate the range of acceptable styles by excluding those which are unacceptable in the circumstances.

(3)      If there is more than one acceptable style, choose the one which fits in with long term aims or alternatively choose the style which is likely to get the decision made most quickly.

 Problems in the Situational Approach

An approach which bases decision style on the demands of the situation poses a number of problems.

Many factors can combine to produce such rigidity, including:

–          Past experience of success and failures.

–          Comfort and familiarity with a particular style

–          Encouragement in using a particular style by senior management, or by

–          The prevailing organizational climate

–          Current, trends, for example, towards participation and democracy in decision


–          A being of that getting help from other is “weak management”

–          A lack of skill in diagnosing different problems

–          A lack of skill in operating a wide range of different styles


The personal skill of the manager is of considerable importance in organizational decision making, but it is a necessary rather than a sufficient condition for effective decision making.

“Content” needs    Essentially concerned with “what” it is that the group or team are doing.

“Process” needs    Essentially concerned with “how” the team actually operates. Group members need skills in working together and in “living” together as a group.

Task Process Activities

(1)      Initiating  – putting new ideas forward or starting up new activities.

(2)      Asking – getting information or views, actively searching out facts and ideas.

(3)      Clarifying – helping in understanding, re-starting defining terms, asking for explanation.

(4)      Summarizing bringing ideas together.

(5)      Testing for agreement – checking if the group is ready to make a decision.

Maintenance Process Activities

(1)      Harmonizing – bringing others together, exploring and recording disagreements.

(2)      Gate keeping – bringing others into the discussion, allowing everyone to participate.

(3)      Encouraging – agreeing, responding positively to others, building and supporting.

(4)      Listening – showing that ideas are heard, showing understanding.

(5)      Standard setting – stating feelings and beliefs, brining things out into open discussion.

The Flexible Role Structure

The particular balance between the need for content understanding and expertise, and that for task and maintenance process skills, is likely of course, to vary from one situation to another.

Organizing for an Effective Team

In the same way that managers cannot be expected to be effective leaders without the necessary skills and experience, work team members cannot be expected to work together effectively without processing an adequate level of skills and understanding of what in required.

Development of Content Capability

As we have said, individuals are usually recruited into work teams on the basis of their content experience.

Task Process Skills

Skills in this area are gained both through training and through experience. The manager can help group members to gain skills by using regular group tasks as learning vehicles.

In order to increase task process skill then, the manager can:

(1)      ensure that team members are trained in problem solving strategies

(2)      ensure that the team look regularly at its own performance and effectiveness in problem solving and task completion.

Maintenance Process Skills

There is no doubt that, however strong in content capability and task process skills a group’s performance can be severely affected by a poor maintenance process.

Such group training situations are designed to help individuals to (1) explore and understand more about their own values, motivation and behavior; (2) observe and investigate the way their own behavior impacts on others; and (3) learn about the interpersonal processes that help and hinder the way groups operate and make decisions.

Dessler suggests the following guidelines to be used in conducting T-group training:

–          T-group should only be used where an open, flexible style is appropriate for organizational needs.

–          Attendance on a T-group should be voluntary.

–          Participants should be carefully screened before going on T-group.

–          The trainee should be an experienced professional.

–          Mechanisms must be built in or transferring learning back into the work organisation.

–          Trainees should know beforehand what kind of experience they are getting into.

The Characteristic of an Effective Team

The next stage, after organizing and preparing the ground for effective teamwork, is to check out how successful these efforts have been.

Recruiting for the Decision Making Group

For most managers, the main strategy for improving team effectiveness is, as described previously, one of training and development of existing team members.

Personality Characteristics as Key Variables

Over a period of seven years, Belbin and his colleagues were able to observe and investigate the performance of a considerable number of teams undertaking the same competitive task.

The four traits which appeared to be most significant were:

– Intelligence, – Dominance, – Extroversion/Introversion, – Stability / Anxiety

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