Groupthink is a term that refers to a tendency for members of a group to agree with each other for the sake of team harmony. Cohesiveness on a team is great, but when groupthink takes hold, it can stifle creativity, stunt growth and strain relationships between peers.

Chris Brennan, a performance specialist for Insperity, says groupthink can happen for a variety of reasons. People may want to maintain the status quo, or they may believe their input won’t make much of a difference. Sometimes groupthink comes about when employees feel a sense of loyalty to their bosses or colleagues. And sometimes groupthink is just a result of a lack of engagement.

If your team is relatively homogeneous, meaning that most everyone has the same life experiences and perspectives, then you may be particularly at risk for groupthink.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share guidance from Brennan on ways to spot groupthink and how you can keep it from taking hold of your team.

Common Warning Signs

Employee behavior. Do your team members collaborate well together or do people seem fearful about speaking up? Brennan recommends looking at the employees who speak up the most. Do others disagree with them or raise valid concerns?

Typical phrases. Brennan says to be wary if you hear people say something like, “This has been working well for a long time, and we don’t need to change.” If several people say this, it could mean a widespread unwillingness to listen to new ideas and perspectives.

Slow growth. One of the warning signs of groupthink is stagnation. If your team or company isn’t growing or if revenue is flat or dropping, this could indicate stale ideas. And on the flip side, if your team has experienced tremendous growth, don’t let complacency take hold.

How To End Groupthink

Educate employees. Make sure they know their ideas and suggestions are valued, Brennan says. And make sure they know they can share their opinions without retribution.

Diversify. One of the best ways to put an end to groupthink is to focus on diversity. This will naturally bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives. It’s critical to have a diverse representation of people, especially in those critical decision-making roles, to encourage and obtain a broad variety of perspectives on certain issues, Brennan says.

Embrace inclusivity. Just because an organization is diverse doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inclusive. Make sure everyone on your team knows they are free to be who they are and that they will be accepted no matter what. When people know they will be accepted, they often feel more confident speaking up.

Groupthink can be a real challenge for teams of all sizes. You can help your sales team break out of a pattern of groupthink by encouraging all employees to speak their mind and contribute their ideas.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Chris Brennan is a speaker and performance specialist for Insperity. He has over 15 years of experience in training and development.