Office peer pressure
Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: V&V
"Intermittently, I will sit
in on productivity improvement meetings and notice that the members
of one team don't often voice their opinions, opting instead to
just agree with their manager.
Strong leaders and clear group identity are the trademarks of
teams that often fall victims to "group think". Some
of the brightest teams in the world have subscribed to a common
acceptance of decision-making because they hold a positive image
of their group, and thus have a collective mentality toward threats.
Political groups serve as a typical example where achieving concurrence
supersedes realistic assessments of deviant or unpopular views.
If you ever felt like speaking up in a meeting or team session
but didn't because you were anxious about the risks and consequences
it may bring, then you have been a victim of group think. Typical
indicators of group think include:
- Participants applying pressure on those who question the
validity of arguments, or express doubts about a group's shared
- Groups assuming that when there are no objections, the group
is unified in a common agreement. (Note that silence during a
vote of acceptance is not necessarily a sign of unanimous acceptance.).
- As a director in your company, you may want to rethink your
preference for observation rather than involvement. Getting involved
and displaying a bit of resistance to the team's final decisions
will push the team to explore options, and thus find a means
for securing new ideas.
- Encourage your manager to play an impartial
role during typical team discussions and to actively seek input
from each and every member of the team. It may be necessary for
the leader to do this outside the usual team meetings in order
to relax anxieties of being persecuted by other team members.
- At the same time, utilize exercises to stimulate
active discussion of diverse solutions. This can be accomplished
by openly discussing the dangers and risks involved in each solution.
By focusing on the negatives of a solution, the team is less
likely to reject differing opinions and more likely to gain an
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive
Director, LeMoine & Associates
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