Don’t Let Groupthink Sabotage Your Business

Jun 11, 2019


Groupthink happens when the majority of people in a group are rigidly aligned in their thought processes and beliefs. They expect the procedures that work for their thinking orientations to be followed by everyone. Teams who succumb to groupthink lose the ability to be creative and think outside the box, causing them to be oblivious to outside perspectives. While some situations and roles can benefit from this dynamic (such as compliance, audits, or accounting), there are several instances where groupthink can lead to poor business decisions.

Negative Outcomes of Groupthink

  • A status quo culture; agreement in order to avoid conflict
  • Lack of vision; unable to perceive alternative or innovative solutions
  • Resistance to change, inflexible, unadaptable

Your Leadership Team Needs Thinking Diversity

It’s surprisingly easy to fall into a groupthink mentality. Typically, people are drawn to others who think and communicate in a similar way. But businesses that exhibit a groupthink dynamic run the risk of falling behind when it comes to making technology and process improvements. Additionally, if only one point of view dominates among a leadership team, they may miss opportunities to gain new market share.

Companies have to make a conscious effort to hire leaders that bring thinking diversity to the group. In fact, healthy conflict is one of the 5 emotional intelligence competencies of high performing teams, often leading to new ideas and innovation. But when groupthink is present, it is nearly impossible to have a healthy difference of opinion that leads to positive outcomes.

If you suspect your leadership team is trapped in groupthink, you can counteract the situation by bringing in a consultant to help guide the team during important strategic planning sessions. A consultant will be able to offer an outside perspective, challenge the group to consider alternative solutions, and encourage healthy conflict.

Build a Team with Thinking Diversity

Ideally a team should have a good balance of thinking diversity. It’s important to have enough diversity to generate multiple perspectives, but not to the extent that the team isn’t able to make decisions or communicate.

Here’s how to address groupthink culture in your company:

  • Evaluate the thinking diversity of your team using an objective tool that measures thinking.
  • Analyze the results.
    • Is your team all alike, very alike, some difference, mostly different?
  • Share these results to bring awareness to the group.
    • If your team possesses similar thinking processes, they will be prone to groupthink. As their leader, you need to create a culture that removes blind spots and opens up the group to new perspectives.
    • If your team has very different thinking processes, they won’t be prone to groupthink. However, too much diversity can cause stress. Team dynamics will need to be monitored.
ZERORISK HR is a leader in hiring and employee development. The ZERORISK Team Directory Report provides you detailed information on each of your direct reports and measures the thinking diversity of your team. Armed with this information, you will learn how to interact and communicate with each of your team members based on their unique thinking preferences.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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