Every manager needs to be able to make good decisions. A systematic approach to decision making, such as the Vroom-Yetton Decision Model, allows you to bring consistency and order to a process that might otherwise feel idiosyncratic and instinctive. It can also help you to determine the most effective means of reaching a decision.
Understanding the Model
The Vroom-Yetton model is designed to help you to identify the best decision-making approach and leadership style to take, based on your current situation. No single decision-making process fits every scenario. Instead Vroom-Yetton offers a number of different processes and directs you toward the best one for your situation. For example, if speed and decisiveness are required then it will likely point you toward an autocratic process. If collaboration is what’s needed, then it will nudge you toward a more democratic process.
Government and Industry has found that managers are more effective, and their teams more productive and satisfied, when they follow the model. The simplicity of Vroom-Yetton also means that anyone – from the boardroom to the factory floor – can use it.
Although a little long-winded at times, it can be particularly helpful in new or unusual situations. Practice using it, and you’ll quickly get a feel for the right approach to take, whether you’re making a decision about a day-to-day issue or dealing with a more complex problem.
Before you start using the model, you’ll need to consider these three factors:
· Decision quality – Sometimes, making the “right” decision is critical, and you’ll need to use a large number of resources (people, time, information, and so on) to ensure that the action you take has been well thought through and is of high quality.
· Team commitment – Some of your decisions will have a major impact on your team, while others will go unnoticed. When a decision will likely impact your team, it’s best to use a collaborative process. This will improve the quality of the decision, and you’ll likely deliver a successful result faster.
· Time constraints – When the issue at hand isn’t time sensitive, you have more “space” to research your options and to include others, which will help to boost the quality of your decision. If your time is limited, however, it may not be feasible to include others or to undertake thorough research.
Specific Leadership Processes
As you answer each of the questions, you work your way through a decision tree until you arrive at a code (A1, A2, C1, C2, or G2). This code identifies the best decision-making process for you and your team. (Note that, in some scenarios, you won’t need to answer all of the questions.)
The following codes represent the five decision-making processes that are described by the model:
Autocratic (A1): You use the information that you already have to make the decision, without requiring any further input from your team.
Autocratic (A2): You consult your team to obtain specific information that you need, and then you make the final decision.
Consultative (C1): You inform your team of the situation and ask for members’ opinions individually, but you don’t bring the group together for a discussion. You make the final decision.
Consultative (C2): You get your team together for a group discussion about the issue and to seek their suggestions, but you still make the final decision by yourself.
Collaborative (G2): You work with your team to reach a group consensus . Your role is mostly facilitative, and you help team members to reach a decision that they all agree on.
The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Normative Decision Model helps us to answer above questions. This model identifies five different styles (ranging from autocratic to consultative to group-based decisions) on the situation & level of involvement. They are:
Autocratic Type 1 (AI)
Leader makes own decision using information that is readily available to him at the time. This type is completely autocratic.
Autocratic Type 2 (AII)
Leader collects required information from followers, then makes decision alone. Problem or decision may or may not be informed to followers. Here, followers’ involvement is just providing information.
Consultative Type 1 (CI)
Leader shares problem to relevant followers individually and seeks their ideas and suggestions and makes decision alone. Here followers do not meet each other and the leader’s decision may or may not reflect his followers’ influence. So, here followers involvement is at the level of providing alternatives individually.
Consultative Type 2 (CII)
Leader shares problem to relevant followers as a group and seeks their ideas and suggestions and makes decision alone. Here followers meet each other, and through discussions they understand other alternatives. But the leader’s decision may or may not reflect his followers’ influence. So, here followers involvement is at the level of helping as a group in decision-making.
Group-based Type 2 (GII)
Leader discuss problem and situation with followers as a group and seeks their ideas and suggestions through brainstorming. Leader accepts any decision and does not try to force his idea. Decision accepted by the group is the final one.
Vroom & Yetton formulated following seven questions on decision quality, commitment, problem information and decision acceptance, with which leaders can determine level of followers involvement in decision. Answer to the following questions must be either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ with the current scenario.
1. Is there a quality requirement? Is the nature of the solution critical? Are there technical or rational grounds for selecting among possible solutions?
2. Do I have sufficient information to make a high quality decision?
3. Is the problem structured? Are the alternative courses of action and methods for their evaluation known?
4. Is acceptance of the decision by subordinates critical to its implementation?
5. If I were to make the decision by myself, is it reasonably certain that it would be accepted by my subordinates?
6. Do subordinates share the organizational goals to be obtained in solving this problem?
7. Is conflict among subordinates likely in obtaining the preferred solution?
In general, a consultative or collaborative style is most appropriate when:
· You need information from others to solve a problem.
· The problem can’t be easily defined.
· Team members’ buy-in to the decision is important.
· You have enough time available to manage a group decision.
An autocratic style is most appropriate when:
· You have greater expertise on the subject than others.
· You are confident about acting alone.
· The team will accept your decision.
· There is little time available.
Vroom-Yetton is a useful model, but it’s not necessarily appropriate for all eventualities. It misses out several important considerations, and its rigid structure means that it fails to take into account subtleties, such as the emotions and dynamics of your team, and the task’s complexity. The seven questions are imprecise, too – “importance” and “quality,” for example, are vague terms – and it can be difficult to give straight “yes” or “no” answers to them.
It also uses a mathematical formula to help people to pinpoint the optimum decision-making process for their situation. The newer version of the model is often referred to as either Vroom-Jago or Vroom-Yetton-Jago.
To find the process best suited to your situation, you need to consider a number of factors. These include time constraints, the level of team participation required, and the quality of the final decision.
The model walks you through these factors logically, to help you to identify the most appropriate process and style. It is particularly useful for managers and leaders who are trying to balance the benefits of participative management with the need to make decisions effectively.