Make better group decisions
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Make better group decisions

When working in a group setting, making decisions can be very challenging.  Conflict can occur if things start to go wrong, some members of the group may ‘jockey’ for position, some might fight for recognition, others may try to disrupt the process or be overly critical whilst others might simply sit back and make no contribution whatsoever.

Because of this, the situation can become chaotic and our group can make poor decisions as a result.

It is easy to understand why our teams become frustrated and give up when this happens. However, if we can get our team working well together we are more likely to make better decisions.

How do we make our team decisions more effective?

So how do we make our team more effective? How can we get everyone to contribute and to motivate each other to identify effective solutions?

This is where the Stepladder Technique comes in.  This is a useful method for encouraging individual participation in group decision making.

What Is the Stepladder Decision making Technique?

The Stepladder Technique was developed by Steven Rogelberg, Janet Barnes-Farrell and Charles Lowe in 1992 and is a simple tool that manages how team members enter the decision-making group.  It urges everyone to make an individual contribution before being influenced by anyone else in the group. As a result, a wider variety of ideas are generated.  It also prevents people from hiding within the group, and it ensures that quieter members of the group are not overpowered by stronger, louder group members.

The Stepladder Decision MakingTechnique has five basic steps:

Step 1: Before assembling your team, present the task or problem to everyone involved. Give them enough time to consider what needs to be done and for them to form their own ideas and opinions on how to best complete the task or solve the problem.

Step 2: Establish a core group of two members. Have them discuss the problem/task.

Step 3: Add an additional person to the core group. The third member presents their ideas to the first two members before they learn of the ideas that have already been discussed. once all three members have shared their ideas, they discuss their options together.

Step 4: Add a fourth member and repeat the process.  Keep adding an additional member to the group and repeat.   Ensure that time is allowed for discussion after each additional member has presented their ideas.

Step 5: Agree a final decision once all members have been brought in and offered their ideas.


If your group has too many members, it can begin to lose its effectiveness and ability to make good quality decisions. To maximise effectiveness, we would recommend that you to limit your group to between 4 and 7 members.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article and would like to find out more, why not join us on the Level 3 in Leadership and Management which covers this and many other related topics?

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