How to avoid ‘group think’

Published on: November 14, 2019


I promised you I would work on an article about teamwork — so here we go. defines teamwork as “The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.” Now that’s something we can all use at work, when serving on committees or boards and even within our families. Teamwork involves people working together using their individual skills to achieve a common goal.

If you are the team leader, you need an awareness of what teamwork is and the stage of development of your team. That will help you respond in the most effective way to achieve your desired goal. Assuming you get to pick your team members, make sure you pick those members who possess the necessary skills and diverse backgrounds which encourage constructive debate.

As the team starts to work together, make sure you revisit goals regularly. Communication is all important as is feedback on the team’s progress. Your job as team leader is to facilitate the process – encouraging rather than directing.

Teamwork is the foundation for productive collaboration and is critical to the success of any project. Of course, team members are encouraged to bond, but sometimes things can go too far. If your team is neglecting to consider alternative choices or making irrational choices, it could be a sign that they are suffering from “group think.” One symptom of group think is that sometimes team members have too similar backgrounds which can hurt the generation of a diversity of options. Other symptoms are isolation from outside opinions or possibly a lack of rules for decision making.

If your team is looking for an immediate solution to a problem you are stuck with, try introducing a wild card. A clash of characters can often cause constructive conflict and help erase some of that group think that is getting in your way.

Before you put your team together, make sure you figure out how to deal with team problems and conflicts. Make sure everyone has agreed upon how to diagnose, analyze and resolve teamwork problems and conflicts. Members should not support member personality conflicts and clashes. Neither should they pick sides in a disagreement. Rather, members need to work together toward the mutual resolution to achieve your common goals.

Remember at the start of this column, I mentioned that teamwork can also work for families. Well, just remember the holiday season is upon us. That means spending much more time with our families than we normally do. Sorry for the reminder. Whether battling political disagreements, unresolved conflicts, sibling rivalry, kids, finances – whatever. You can either ruin your day and everyone else’s or pretend you are all on the same team. Treat your family like you treat your teammates. Enjoy your turkey, football and pecan pie. And just smile – it will cut down on the heartburn.

Happy Holidays, team.

Lynne Conlan is Executive Director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email