This paper will discuss the role of communication in group decision making at USAA through understanding how USAA uses a functional approach to group communication and the difficulties in group communication experienced within the organization.
A decision is a choice among two or more alternatives. Decisions are sometimes hard to identify and teams generally make better decisions than individuals. Many of the decisions made by work groups in stressful situations are needed quickly, thoughtfully and to the point. Group decisions involve all parties and can be challenging with different ideas and personalities involved. When the workgroup is managing a crisis or a deadline is pending, participation in the decision-making process makes the team more aware of issues within the company. At USAA the IT division conducts most of its work through teams. USAA determines how each team will be most effective and how each team will contribute to delivering the best product for our members through extensive group decision making training.
USAA does this first through its employees using the input-output model. The inputs are raw materials, human resources, capital technology, and information. These inputs are then pushed through the transformation process. The transformation process is the employees, management work, technology, and operational systems. Finally, the outputs include products and services, financial results, information, and human results. These 3 systems make up the environment or organizational communication culture of the company. USAA has been ranked in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to work for 7 years in a row, Worlds most ethical company 2 years in a row and Computer Worlds Best Company in IT for the last 5 years because the employees are the decision making communication tool.
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Generally within the group decision making, there is a less powerful or a younger member that has lower status, however, they may not have influence but their opinions change others opinions. The group decision framework within USAA IT, the lower status employee is usually a recent college graduate or intern. This is a direct link to how the organizational structure functions; the task is delegated through each line of business and is influenced by the manager and management.
USAA has 3,000 IT professionals that develop and execute these responsibilities and innovative ideas that USAA will put into production or assist the employee in the patent process. USAA IT employees hold more than 2,300 patents using an extensive legacy system extending more than 20 years with many mainframe systems that are key parts of the core infrastructure. All these decisions to improve the member experience and communication between groups were set in motion by employees who overcame problems using Nominal group technique, a procedure to help groups discover the best ideas and promote consensus building among members. Centralization describes where the decisions are made. However, the breakdown of each individual team is broken down into an organic structure to make communication, decision making, collaboration and flexibility between teams easier. When teams build choices, the group decision tends to be either riskier or more cautious than the decision that individual group members would make outside of the group. (Encyclopedia of Communication, 2019)
When teams begin their discussion by leaning toward warranted outcomes, they tend to experience a cautious shift; that is the group makes a decision that is more cautious than an individual would have created on his or own. (King, 2012)
Individuals and teams are liable to errors once their judgments are supported knowledge. These are called inferential errors. (Elving, 2005)The issue is framed, for example, can influence how group members judge the evidence or decision. (King, 2012)Two teams will have different ideas or judgments of similar proof, whether past success or failures is the deciding concern. Past failure can induce risky behavior by groups, while past success can make groups more conservative in the decision process. When a group begins the discussion by leaning toward taking a change, this opens up communication within the group and leads to a tendency of a risky shift.
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There are five conditions that contribute to groupthink: an authoritarian style leader, isolation from other groups and people, lack of explicit decision procedures, group members sharing similar viewpoints, and group members being under high pressure to make a decision. A project team facing a deadline may not adequately consider new information that runs contrary to a selected position. Groups can overcome a problem by designating or hiring a person to be a facilitator. The facilitator is a type of group leader who helps improve the group’s procedures so the group is more effective in accomplishing its goals. A facilitator helps a group identify problems in the decision-making processes and shows the group how to correct those problems. Group decision support systems (GDSSs) combine computers and specialized software to help groups make better decisions. A GDSS provides group discussion and decision-making tools such as brainstorming and voting. When groups use a GDSS, they work in a room where they can interact with each other by talking or by using the GDSS.
The goal for group decision-making is to ensure that all members of the group are able to use and share their knowledge and experience. Group communication gives USAA greater diversity and breadth within and outside the IT world. The continued effective decisions in groups allow for better understanding between teams and managers. When groups continue to implement group decision-making techniques communication is improved throughout the organization. Although there are different requirements and preferences the preferred method at USAA is the democratic method were all group members are given equal input. Choices are managed by a majority or unanimous system, commonly known as a consensus. For communication to remain free of obstacles all parties within the team share the same responsibility at USAA, to communicate and base their decision on what will ultimately be the best decision for the member and the company.
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