Home > Blogs > Blogs > What is Groupthink in the Workplace?

What is Groupthink in the Workplace?

  • By barraiser
  • September 16, 2022
  • 6 mins read
What is Groupthink in the Workplace
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon where a group of people come to a decision or take action that is not in the best interest of the group as a whole. While it can occur in any workplace, there are some key things to know to avoid falling victim to its harmful effects.

    In this article, we will discover what groupthink in the workplace is, its symptoms and causes, and provide you with essential tips for avoiding it.

    What is groupthink in the workplace?

    Groupthink in the workplace is a behavior that can occur in groups. It refers to the tendency of group members to override their thinking and judgment to maintain group unanimity and avoid conflict. Groupthink can lead to irrational decision-making and adverse outcomes for the group. Groupthink is sometimes confused with conformity bias, as conformity bias refers to everyone going in the same direction as the herd. 

    The effects of groupthink include bad decision-making, silenced disagreement, limited creativity, inefficient problem-solving, decreased morale and involvement, overlooked chances and dangers, organizational stagnation, and unfavorable results for the group or organization.

    What are the examples of groupthink in the workplace?

    The following are some examples of groupthink in the workplace:

    When employees are asked to vote on whether or not they want to form a union, they may be more likely to agree if they feel that they are part of a large group rather than making an individual decision.

    When employees are asked to make decisions about their work schedule, it can be easier for them to reach a consensus if they feel like they are part of a larger group rather than making an individual decision.

    Also Read: What is the Importance of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?

    What are the symptoms of groupthink in the workplace?

    Here are some symptoms of groupthink in the workplace to watch for:

    1. Rationalization

    Groupthink is a cognitive phenomenon that can occur in groups, where individuals conform their thinking to the opinion of their group to avoid conflict or embarrassment. Groupthink can lead to poor decision-making and can have negative consequences for the group as a whole.

    2. Self-censorship

    Groupthink is a term used to describe the phenomenon where group members come to believe in the group’s dogma or consensus, even when it is irrational or self-defeating. Groupthink can lead to ineffective decision-making and suppressed dissent, severely affecting individual and collective productivity.

    3. Stereotyping

    There’s a reason why groupthink is often associated with the workplace. It’s because it can be a powerful and destructive force. Groupthink is when people believe in their opinions so strongly that they cannot objectively think about or evaluate their ideas. As a result, they are more likely to make decisions that support the group rather than what would be best for the individual members.

    4. Peer pressure

    Peer pressure, or groupthink, can be a destructive workplace force. It can cause employees to conform to group opinions instead of thinking for themselves, leading to poor decision-making.

    5. Illusions of invulnerability

    Groupthink is a term used to describe the cognitive distortion that occurs when group members try to protect themselves from criticism or dissent and instead come to a consensus, even if it means sacrificing accuracy and truth.

    6. Morals and beliefs

    Groupthink can lead to flawed decisions because it discourages individuals from challenging prevailing views and can lead to suppressed dissent. 

    Also Read: How to Build an Inclusive Workplace Culture?

    What causes groupthink in the workplace?

    There are several causes of groupthink in the workplace, but some of the most common ones include: 

    1. Fear of adverse outcomes

    The phenomenon can occur in any organization but is particularly common in large organizations where individuals feel isolated from one another and cannot dissent openly. Groupthink can also be triggered by a situation in which members feel they are under pressure to produce results quickly or face reprisals from management.

    2. Poor leadership

    Groupthink in the workplace can manifest as reluctance to challenge ideas or information, failure to analyze alternative viewpoints, and lack of open discussion. When groups become trapped in a cycle of self-censorship, they may make suboptimal decisions that undermine their success.

    3. Lack of diversity

    When groups are composed only of people with similar backgrounds, they’re more likely to come to conclusions and make decisions that reflect their views and not those of the entire group. This can lead to flawed thinking and ineffective decision-making.

    4. Lack of knowledge

    Groupthink is a form of cognitive bias that can occur in groups. It’s characterized by the tendency to make quick and inaccurate decisions due to group pressure.

    5. Stress

    Groupthink is a type of decision-making where group members unconsciously conform to the group norm, even if it means making bad decisions. The tendency to fall victim to groupthink can have severe consequences for businesses, organizations, and individual employees.

    6. Isolation

    Several factors can contribute to groupthink, including a strong leader who intimidates others, a fear of conflict, a lack of information, and a closed communication environment. These factors create an atmosphere where individuals fear speaking out against the group or challenging its decision-making processes.

    Also Read: Role of Unconscious Bias in Interview Quality: How to Mitigate Bias in the Hiring Process

    How to avoid groupthink in the workplace?

    If you’re like most people, you probably think of groupthink as a negative term. After all, it’s usually used to describe situations where everyone in a group agrees on something without considering other options or debating the pros and cons. Unfortunately, groupthink can have severe consequences in the workplace. Here’s everything you need to know about this phenomenon and how to avoid it.

    1. Diversify team

    Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that can occur when people come together and share similar opinions, leading to irrational decision-making. Groupthink occurs when individuals conform to the group mentality and refuse to challenge ideas or thoughts to protect themselves from criticism or embarrassment. This can create a situation where groups make bad decisions because they fear changing their perspective. Hire diverse candidates from different religions, regions, cultures, etc., to avoid such problems.

    2. Inclusive leadership

    Groupthink is a syndrome that can occur in groups, characterized by the tendency for members to conform their thinking to the group consensus in the absence of dissenting opinions or information. This can lead to decision-making processes that are ineffective and ultimately harmful to the group. You can display inclusiveness right at the job description stage. 

    3. Evaluate communication style

    There are several ways that organizations can avoid falling victim to groupthink. Leaders should encourage open discussion and debate rather than forcing everyone into line. They should also create a safe environment where individuals can express their ideas freely without fear of repercussion.

    4. Encourage sharing

    To prevent groupthink from occurring, leaders need to create an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing dissenting opinions. Leaders should also encourage participants to explore different options and develop creative solutions.

    5. Offer learning opportunities

    When groups get trapped in groupthink, their decisions can be bad for themselves and the organization. They may make poor choices because they’re afraid to upset anyone or might not even consider all available options. This can lead to significant problems.

    6. Regular performance reviews

    Regular performance reviews are an essential part of maintaining groupthink in the workplace. A review should be objective and unbiased and conducted to improve individual performance instead of upholding group norms. The review participants should be chosen based on their skills and experience, not their affiliation with the group.


    What is groupthink in the workplace?

    Groupthink in the workplace is a behavior where group members prioritize unanimity over independent thinking, leading to irrational decision-making. It can result in adverse outcomes for the group. Recognizing and addressing groupthink is crucial to prevent its harmful effects on decision-making and organizational success.

    How can we prevent groupthink at work?

    To avoid groupthink, it’s important to encourage each team member to develop their ideas independently before discussions. This approach fosters diverse perspectives and emphasizes the value of individual input, preventing the tendency for group consensus to overshadow critical thinking.

    Can you explain how groupthink works?

    Groupthink occurs when the desire for harmony within a group overrides the exploration of diverse viewpoints or dissenting opinions. In essence, the pressure to maintain unity within the group stifles creativity and effective decision-making.

    Is groupthink good or bad?

    Groupthink can be detrimental as it discourages open discussion and critical evaluation of ideas. By suppressing dissenting views, it creates a false sense of agreement within the group, potentially leading to flawed decisions and overlooked risks.

    How can groupthink affect your company?

    In a company setting, groupthink can result in decisions made without thorough consideration of all perspectives. This can lead to missed opportunities, increased risks, and a lack of innovative solutions. Additionally, it may foster a culture where dissenting opinions are suppressed, hindering the company’s ability to adapt and grow.

    What decreases groupthink?

    Embracing diversity, whether in demographics or thought, is key to combating groupthink. By encouraging a range of perspectives and ideas, teams can leverage the unique insights of each member, leading to more robust decision-making and innovative solutions.

    What are some examples of groupthink in the workplace?

    Examples of groupthink in the workplace include employees being more likely to agree on forming a union when part of a large group and consensus being easier to reach on work schedule decisions when individuals feel part of a larger group.

    What are the symptoms of groupthink in the workplace?

    Symptoms of groupthink include rationalization, self-censorship, stereotyping, peer pressure, illusions of invulnerability, and moral conformity. These can be identified by observing decision-making processes and group dynamics and noticing signs of suppressed dissent and biased thinking.

    What are the common causes of groupthink in the workplace?

    Common causes of groupthink include fear of adverse outcomes, poor leadership, lack of diversity, knowledge, stress, and isolation. Mitigation strategies involve diversifying teams, promoting inclusive leadership, evaluating communication styles, encouraging open sharing of ideas, offering learning opportunities, and conducting regular, unbiased performance reviews.

    Experience smarter interviewing with us

    Get the top 1% talent with BarRaiser’s Smart AI Platform

    Book a Demo