Communication: Definition, features, Sources, process, element, tools for advanced communication – Team building: Meaning, strategies, advantages – Group dynamics: Meaning, need, benefits – Decision Making Skill: Meaning, need, types – Problem Solving Skills (PSS): definition, meaning, effectiveness, developing PSS and creativity / lateral thinking skills.

Sec 01: Communication: Definition, features, sources, process, elements, tools for advanced communication

What is communication?

  • It is combination of four elements, namely ‘who, to whom, what and how’. Who may refer to a person, a group of persons or an organization; To whom may refer to again an individual, group of individuals or an organization; What refers to the information, thoughts, emotions, ideas, experiences, feelings etc.; and finally how refers to verbal and non-verbal.
  • Therefore, communication is noted as the passing of ideas, thoughts, emotions etc. from one person or more persons to another person or group by verbal or non-verbal medium.
  • Man and woman being a social animal needs to communicate with each other; it is applicable to other creatures too, as suggested by the science. Mother communicates with child, husband with wife, teacher with students, employer to employee, etc. Hence communication is a great art and makes the living a complete one.


  • Louise Allen(1998) says,” Communication is the sum of all the things one person does when he or she wants to create understanding in the mind of another person. It involves systematic and continuous of telling, listening and understanding”.
  • “Communication is considered as a normal conversation between two people; when individuals communicate with each other, they create a chance for shared meaning. Each individual’s meaning is made up of experiences, training and background. When there is similarity of experiences, training and background, there is a greater chance of successful communication”.
  • Leagons(1969) looks at communication as ‘a process by which two or more people exchange ideas, facts, feelings or impressions in ways that each gains a common understanding of meaning, intent and use of message’.
  • Communication is essentially a social affair; it is the process of sending and receiving information. It is inevitable for a good leader.


  • There are three basic elements needed for an effective communication: a. attractiveness, b. Brevity and c. Clarity. In short it is called as ‘ABC’.
  • Attractiveness’ refers to mesmerizing tone, sweetness of language including use of rhymes and apt vocabularies, physical style, etc.
  • Brevity refers to conciseness, briefness and short expression through which trying to express; minimum words with maximum meaning and interpretation.
  • Clarity refers to precision, simple yet to the point, lucidity, shortness of expression with sharper meaning etc.
  • Involves minimum two persons either directly or indirectly and a medium through which message is sent; (sender – message – medium –receiver – response). A listener is necessary to receive one’s ideas. Therefore, there must be at least two persons-the sender of information and the receiver
  • Sender codes the message and receiver decodes it according to his intelligence and background experiences.
  • There should be a mutual understanding; this means that the receiver should receive the information in the same spirit with which it is being given. In the process of communication, it is more important to understand the information rather than carry it out (
  • It is not necessary in communication that the receiver and giver of information should be face-to-face with each other. Communication can be both direct and indirect. Direct communication means face-to-face conversation, while indirect communication is through other means.
  • Communication is an endless process, trying to communicate and find out the response and progress in the shared area.
  • Communication is a dynamic process: Communication is influenced by the mood and thinking of the sender and receiver. The way a message is accepted depends upon the fact that which of the fine sensory organs of the receiver is active at that time.
  • Communication is a goal oriented process: Communication is goal oriented and is effective only when there is congruence of goals of sender and receiver.
  • There can be many means of communication, like the written, the oral and symbolic. The examples of symbolic communication are the ringing of bell for closing a school or a college, saying something by the movement of the neck, showing anger or disapproval through eyes, giving some decision by the raising of a finger in cricket, etc.
  • Communication has a symbolic nature and is an act of sharing one’s ideas, emotions, attitudes, or perceptions with another person or group of persons through words (written or spoken), gestures, signals, signs, or other modes of transmitting images.
  • Communication is an interdisciplinary science: Communication to be effective derives knowledge from several sciences like-anthropology (study of body language), sociology (study of human behaviour), psychology (study of attitude) etc.

Elements of Communication (

These are the important elements of the communication process:

1. SENDER/ENCODER: The sender also known as the encoder decides on the message to be sent, the best/most effective way that it can be sent. All of this is done bearing the receiver in mind. In a word, it is his/her job to conceptualize. The sender may want to ask him/herself questions like: What words will I use? Do I need signs or pictures?

2. MEDIUM: The medium is the immediate form which a message takes. For example, a message may be communicated in the form of a letter, in the form of an email or face to face in the form of a speech.

3. CHANNEL : The channel is that which is responsible for the delivery of the chosen message form. For example post office, internet, radio.

4. RECEIVER: The receiver or the decoder is responsible for extracting/decoding meaning from the message. The receiver is also responsible for providing feedback to the sender. In a word, it is his/her job to INTERPRET.

5. FEEDBACK: This is important as it determines whether or not the decoder grasped the intended meaning and whether communication was successful.

6. CONTEXT: Communication does not take place in a vacuum. The context of any communication act is the environment surrounding it. This includes, among other things, place, time, event, and attitudes of sender and receiver.

7. NOISE (also called interference): This is any factor that inhibits the conveyance of a message. That is, anything that gets in the way of the message being accurately received, interpreted and responded to. Noise may be internal or external. A student worrying about an incomplete assignment may not be attentive in class (internal noise) or the sounds of heavy rain on a galvanized roof may inhibit the reading of a storybook to second graders (external noise). The communication process is dynamic, continuous, irreversible, and contextual. It is not possible to participate in any element of the process without acknowledging the existence and functioning of the other elements.

Sources of Communication

  • A source or sender is one of the basic concepts of communication and information processing. Sources are objects which encode message data and transmit the information, via a channel, to one or more observers (or receivers).
  • In general, there are three types of resources or sources of information: primary, secondary, and tertiary.  It is important to understand these types and to know what type is appropriate for your coursework prior to searching for information.
  • Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based, including: original written works – poems, diaries, court records, interviews, surveys, and original research/fieldwork, and research published in scholarly/academic journals.
  • Secondary sources are those that describe or analyze primary sources, including: reference materials – dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and books and articles that interpret, review, or sythesize original research/fieldwork.
  • Tertiary sources are those used to organize and locate secondary and primary sources. Indexes – provide citations that fully identify a work with information such as author, titles of a book, article, and/or journal, publisher and publication date, volume and issue number and page numbers. Abstracts – summarize the primary or secondary sources, Databases – are online indexes that usually include abstracts for each primary or secondary resource, and may also include a digital copy of the resource.

Process of Communication

Types of Communication

  • Communication can be categorized into three basic types: (1) verbal communication, in which you listen to a person to understand their meaning; (2) written communication, in which you read their meaning; and (3) nonverbal communication, in which you observe a person and infer meaning.

Tools / channels for Communication

  • A communication tool is the specific device or product that carries a communication message to a target group. … Different communication tools are often used as part of an effective communication plan in order to communicate the intended message to the target group.
  • Communication channels are the methods used to get a message across. Broadly speaking, the main channels are verbal and nonverbal communications. More specifically, channels are the means used to carry a message — for example, emails and telephone calls.
  • Face to face, broadcast media, mobile communications, mobile / electronic communications are the channels of communications.

Barriers of effective Communication

  • There are some key barriers that can occur within organization: language, ambiguity, cultural diversity / Cultural Noise(stereotypical assumptions), gender differences, status differences, attitude, information overload, and physical separation. These barriers to communication are specific items that can distort or prevent communication within an organization.

Sec 02: Team Building: Meaning, strategies and Advantages

What Is Team Building?

  • Team is an action group of people working together towards a particular goal or object.
  • Team building is the process of turning a group of individual employees into a cohesive team, a group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet the needs of their customers/ superiors/stakeholders   by accomplishing their purpose and goals.
  • Team building can include the daily interaction that employees engage in when working together to carry out the requirements of their jobs. It can also involve structured activities and exercises that employees can lead. 

Strategies for Team Building

  1. Internal Team Building Opportunities:

With a little practice, groups of employees such as departments, product teams, marketing teams and more can use another employee to facilitate their group’s session. Often the team leader or manager will facilitate a series of meetings at which employees get to know each   other and develop cohesive working relationships.

In a larger organization, organization development staff can lead team building sessions. Many Human Resources practitioners are also comfortable leading team building sessions.

But, team building doesn’t always have to have a meeting or a facilitated meeting to accomplish the goal of a cohesive team. You can build your teams by structuring activities and fun events that team members can do together.

Start with a department picnic using a couple of hours during the workday to visit a nearby park. Sponsor activities where employees get together for fun.

Bowling, Christmas Eve lunch, painting pictures with the guidance of a painting shop, river cruises on a passenger boat, comedy club presentations, and baseball games all fit the bill. Really, events that your team can do or attend together for team building are as endless as the team’s imagination.

Events that are physically challenging such as rock climbing and ropes courses can cause dread and days of fear in the minds of physically inactive or challenged employees. So, for team building, stay away from any type of event that any employee would be unable to participate in. 

  • Using External Facilitation:

When using an external facilitator for team building, groups can participate in structured activities that are designed to help the employees coalesce into an effective team. Generally, the facilitator works with a group of employees to design the team building activities or sessions. You will find them most effective when they are customized to the needs of your group. These sessions can include ice breakers, discussion topics, games, cooperative assignments, and group brainstorming.

The role of the external facilitator in these events is to help you reach your goals. Make sure the event is integrated into your everyday work so the results continue following the event.

If you want to have an effective team that produces the outcomes needed by your organization, you have to pay attention to both process and team building. In fact, 80% of the success of a team is due to team building and cohesive working relationships. 20% is the process – knowing what to do.(SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD,2016).

Advantages of Team Building

  • Improve productivity, Increase motivation, increased collaboration, encourage creativity, Positive reinforcement, Improved communication, (Ian Thomson, The Benefits of Team Building Activities, 2015).
  • to manage each other’s strengths and weaknesses, to better utilize both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, to identify leadership qualities in individuals and highlight areas where all staff can contribute as leaders, to provide the opportunity to learn about each other and grow respect for each other in a non-threatening and fun environment, to develop confidence in yourself and others, to reinforce how taking responsibility and providing responsibility are both vital contributors to team performance, to contribute to a deeper relationship and trust amongst team members, to reinforce a culture and actually to evolve a culture, to lead to stronger results(Retrieved on 03.02.2018). (


Sec 02A: Leadership: Meaning, Definition, Characteristics, Types, developing Leadership

“One tree can start a forest, one word can frame a goal, one candle can wipe out darkness, and a true leader has a confidence to stand alone”.


We are in the world of technology that leads the humanity into imagination and achievements. The success stories are possible only when the action is centered on the collective effort and team spirit. The above phrases remind us about the need for a proper guidance and motivation which is nurtured by the right leadership. Yes…The right leadership will augment the environmental possibility of successes. Let us briefly discuss about the meaning, types and other related concepts of leadership in the following lines.

Meaning: Who is your leader? What are his or her qualities that you admire? Enumerate them.

Leader is the one who can motivate and take the group along with his thinking and vision. He or she must be the anchoring force for any initiative and innovative activity; force and reinforcement will be part of his personality. It is leader who would bear the cost of achieving any target and at the same time first person to share the pain of it in front of all. Leadership is the ability of leading a group of people or an organization.


  • Alford & Beatty: The ability to secure desirable actions from a group of followers voluntarily without the use of coercion
  • Chester Bernard: the quality of behavior of the individuals whereby they guide people or their activities in an organized effort.
  • George R. Terry:  The activity of influencing people to strive willingly for group objectives.


  • My definition of a leader . . . is a man who can persuade people to do what they don’t want to do, or do what they’re too lazy to do, and like it.”— Harry S. Truman, 1884-1972, Thirty-third President of the United States, Miller, More Plan Speaking
  • “You cannot manage men into battle. You manage things; you lead people.” — Grace Hopper, Admiral, U. S. Navy (retired), Nova ( PBS TV), 1986
  • “The superior leader gets things done with very little motion. He imparts instruction not through many words but through a few deeds. He keeps informed about everything but interferes hardly at all. He is a catalyst, and though things would not get done well if he weren’t there, when they succeed he takes no credit. And because he takes no credit, credit never leaves him.“ — Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching.
  • “Leadership occurs when one person induces others to work toward some predetermined objectives.” — Massie.
  • “Leadership is the ability of a superior to
    influence the behavior of a subordinate or group and persuade them to follow a particular course of action.” — Chester Bernard
  • “Leadership is the art of influencing and directing people in such a way that will win their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation in achieving common objectives.” — U. S. Air Force.
  • “The feminine leadership style emphasizes cooperation over competition; intuition as well as rational thinking in problem solving, team structures where power and influence are shared within the group . . . interpersonal competence; and participative decision making.” — Marilyn Loden, Founder and president, Loden Associates, Management Review, December 1987.
  • “The first job of a leader is to define a vision for the organization…. Leadership of the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren Bennis, President, University of Cincinnati, University of Maryland symposium, January 21, 1988.
  • “The ultimate test of practical
    leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs.” — James MacGregor Burns.
  • “Managers have subordinates; leaders have followers.” — Murray Johannsen

Characteristics of the Leadership

  1. A great leader has a good number of followers
  2. Leadership is a personal quality
  3. It is a two way relationship
  4. It is a process of influencing and initiating.
  5. It involves guidance and motivation
  6. It is dynamic, inspirational and vibrant.
  7. The leader has the integration of word and deed
  8. He or she knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way.
  9. He or she is caring for and sharing with the person.
  10. He or she must be able to strike a balance between extremes.
  11. He or she maintains separate identity and respects individual views.
  12. Leader is time conscious and time manager.
  13. Leader builds confidence in his or her subordinates by showing his superior knowledge.
  14. He should be clear in his or her mind about the direction to be given to his or her followers.
  15. Qualities like honesty, integrity and responsibility must be inherent in him or her.

Models of Leadership: Abraham Lincoln (Hard work), Mahatma Gandhi(Simplicity), Mother Teresa(love for neighbors/service), Martin Luther King & Nelson Mandela (Commitment to the cause), Robert Bruce(Perseverance).

They had established credibility and integrity to be considered as great men in and through their words and deeds, thoughts and actions, and convictions and behaviors.

Types of Leadership

Autocratic Leadership

  • Repressive, oppressive, domineering, dictatorial, tyrannical.
  • Enforcing stringent laws, no or  less relationship with neighbors, dictating personal aims, eliminating dissenting voices, stone hearted, opinions disrespected, differences not accepted, accusing coworkers when aims are not achieved, pride,’ I’ consciousness, ‘you are not capable’, no freedom to team members, work conscious and less human, more demanding, rough and tough.

Democratic Leadership

  • Group centered, autonomous, independent, egalitarian, free.
  • Good relationship with people, dedication, commitment, freedom of expression, freedom of activity, leader elected by the people, responsibility distributed, other centered wider consultations, corporate decision making, priority for people than things and place, aiming at common good.

Laissez Faire Leadership

  • From the phrase ‘laissez faire et laissez passer’, motto of certain 18c. French economists, chosen to express the ideal of government non-interference in business and industry. Compare laisser-faire “a letting alone,” taken to mean “non-interference with individual freedom of action” as a policy in government and political economy.
  • Literally means: “let (people) do (as they think best)”.
  • Indifference, lazy, less interference, result oriented, no commitment to workers, more talk and less work, no priority for efficiency, allow each one to act as he or she likes but result is expected, liberal, lenient, hands off, unautocratic.

Styles of Leadership

  • Delegation: Delegating Leadership Style:  Examples. … Employees, who have the confidence to make decisions and good skills to analyze situations, may thrive under thisleadership style. Delegation is one of the styles of leadership that is valuable in certain situations, but is still to be implemented wisely.
  • Delegation is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities, such as starting on proper tires during a wet race. It is one of the core concepts of management leadership.
  • Participatory Leadership: Participative leadership is a managerial style that invites input from employees on all company decisions. The staff is given pertinent information regarding company issues, and a majority vote determines the course of action the company will take.
  • Mentoring: Mentoring is a formal or informal relationship established between an experienced, knowledgeable employee and an inexperienced or new employee. The purpose of a mentor is to help the new employee quickly absorb the organization’s cultural and social norms.
  • The mentor helps the continuing employee grow in their current position and become ready for new jobs and career opportunities. Mentoring can also assist an employee, new to a specific job or area of responsibility, to quickly learn what they need to know to succeed in their job and role.
  • The mentor can help the continuing employee become more knowledgeable and effective in their current job. They help the continuing employee reach new levels of knowledge, sophistication, and career development.
  • The best mentoring relationships involve the exchange of a particular body of knowledge that helps the new employee quickly come up to speed as a contributor within your organization.
  • The mentoring relationship can also be evaluative in nature to assess the assimilation of the new employee in his or her new role. Mentoring is provided in addition to your new employee onboarding process and should have different content and goals.

Sec 03: Group Dynamics: Meaning, Need, benefits.

What is A Group?

A group refers to two or more people who share a common meaning and evaluation of themselves and come together to achieve common goals. It can be defined as several individuals who come together to accomplish a particular task or goal In other words, a group is a collection of people who interact with one another; accept rights and obligations as members and who share a common identity.


One common way to classify group is by whether they are formal or informal in nature.

Formal work groups are established by an organization to achieve organizational goals. Formal groups may take the form of command groups, task groups, and functional groups. An example of a command group is an academic department chairman and the faculty members in that department.

Task groups consist of people who work together to achieve a common task. Members are brought together to accomplish a narrow range of goals within a specified time period. Task groups are also commonly referred to as task forces. The organization appoints members and assigns the goals and tasks to be accomplished. A functional group is created by the organization to accomplish specific goals within an unspecified time frame. Functional groups remain in existence after achievement of current goals and objectives. Examples of functional groups would be a marketing department, a customer service department, or an accounting department.

informal groups are formed naturally and in response to the common interests and shared values of individuals. They are created for purposes other than the accomplishment of organizational goals and do not have a specified time frame. Informal groups are not appointed by the organization and members can invite others to join from time to time. Informal groups can have a strong influence in organizations that can either be positive or negative. For example, employees who form an informal group can either discuss how to improve a production process or how to create shortcuts that jeopardize quality. Informal groups can take the form of interest groups, friendship groups, or reference groups.  

Interest groups usually continue over time and may last longer than general informal groups. Members of interest groups may not be part of the same organizational department but they are bound together by some other common interest. The goals and objectives of group interests are specific to each group and may not be related to organizational goals and objectives. An example of an interest group would be students who come together to form a study group for a specific class. Friendship groups are formed by members who enjoy similar social activities, political beliefs, religious values, or other common bonds. Members enjoy each other’s company and often meet after work to participate in these activities. A reference group is a type of group that people use to evaluate themselves. According to Cherrington(1994), the main purposes of reference groups are social validation and social comparison. Social validation allows individuals to justify their attitudes and values while social comparison helps individuals evaluate their own actions by comparing themselves to others. Reference groups have a strong influence on members’ behavior. By comparing themselves with other members, individuals are able to assess whether their behavior is acceptable and whether their attitudes and values are right or wrong.

Characteristics of a Group:

Regardless of the size or the purpose, every group has similar characteristics:

(a) 2 or more persons (if it is one person, it is not a group)

(b) Formal social structure (the rules of the game are defined)

(c) Common fate (they will swim together)

(d) Common goals (the destiny is the same and emotionally connected)

(e) Face-to-face interaction (they will talk with each other)

(f) Interdependence (each one is complimentary to the other)

(g) Self-definition as group members (what one is who belongs to the group)

 (h) Recognition by others (yes, you belong to the group).

What is Group Dynamics?

Group dynamics refers to the attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of a group. Group dynamics concern how groups form, their structure and process, and how they function.

Importance of Group Dynamics

1. The group can influence the thinking of its members. The members are always influenced by the interactions of other members in the group.

2. A group with a good leader performs better as compared to a group with weak leader.

3. The group can give the effect of synergy, that is, if the group consists of positive thinkers then its output is more than the double every time.

4. Group dynamism can give job satisfaction to the members.

5. The group can also bring team spirit among the members.

6. If the group works as a cohesive group, the cooperation and convergence can result in maximiza­tion of productivity.


Sec 04: Decision Making Skill: Meaning, Definition, Need, types


People often say that they find it hard to make decisions. Unfortunately we all have to make decisions all the time, ranging from trivial issues like what to have for lunch, right up to life-changing decisions like where and what to study, and who to marry. Some people put off making decisions by endlessly searching for more information or getting other people to offer their recommendations. Others resort to decision-making by taking a vote, touching a figure after blindfolding, sticking a pin in a list or tossing a coin. Decisions are part and parcel of a successful life; taking a right decision at a right time will add strength to our further actions and next initiatives.

What is Decision Making?

In its simplest sense, decision-making is the act of choosing between two or more courses of action. In the wider process of problem-solving, decision-making involves choosing between possible solutions to a problem.

A decision is a course of action which is consciously chosen from among a set of alternatives to achieve a desired result. It means decision comes in picture when various alternatives are present.

Definition of Decision Making

According to D. E. McFarland, “A decision is an act of choice – wherein an executive forms a conclusion about what must not be done in a given situation. A decision represents a course of behavior chosen from a number of possible alternatives”.

According to Haynes and Massie, “a decision is a course of action which is consciously chosen for achieving a desired result”.

According to R. A. Killian, “A decision in its simplest form is a selection of alternatives”.

Importance of Decision-Making:

Decision-making is a universal requirement for all human beings. Each of us makes decisions every day in our lives. What college to attend, which job to choose, whom to marry, where to invest and so on. Surgeons, for example, make life-and-death decisions, engineers make decisions on constructing projects, gamblers are concerned with taking risky decisions, and computer technologists may be concerned with highly complex decisions involving crores of rupees. Thus whether right or wrong, individuals as members in different organizations take decisions.

Collectively the decisions of these members give ‘form and direction to the work an organization does’. Some writers equate decision-making with planning. In fact, Koontz and O’Donnell viewed ‘decision-making as the core of planning’, implying that is not at the core of organizing or controlling.

Decision-making is an indispensable component of the management process. It permeates all management and covers every part of an enterprise. In fact whatever a manager does, he does through decision-making only; the end products of manager’s work are decisions and actions.

For example, a manager has to decide:

(i) What are the long term objectives of the organization, how to achieve these objectives, what strategies, policies, procedures to be adopted (planning);

(ii) How the jobs should be structured, what type of structure, how to match jobs with individuals (organizing);

(iii) How to motivate people to peak performance, which leadership style should be used, how to integrate effort and resolve conflicts (leading);

(iv)What activities should be controlled, how to control them, (controlling). Thus, decision-making is a central, important part of the process of managing. The importance of decision-making in management is such that H.A. Simon called management as decision-making. It is small wonder that Simon viewed decision-making as if it were synonymous with the term ‘managing’. Managers are essentially decision makers only.

Intuition and Reasons in Decision Making

Decisions can be made through either an intuitive or reasoned process, or a combination of the two.


Intuition is using your ‘gut feeling’ about possible courses of action.

Although people talk about it as if it was a magical ‘sense’, intuition is actually a combination of past experience and your personal values. It is worth taking your intuition into account, because it reflects your learning about life. It is, however, not always based on reality, only your perceptions, many of which may have started in childhood and may not be very mature as a result.

It is therefore worth examining your gut feeling closely, especially if you have a very strong feeling against a particular course of action, to see if you can work out why, and whether the feeling is justified.


Reasoning is using the facts and figures in front of you to make decisions.

Reasoning has its roots in the here-and-now, and in facts. It can, however, ignore emotional aspects to the decision, and in particular, issues from the past that may affect the way that the decision is implemented.

Intuition is a perfectly acceptable means of making a decision, although it is generally more appropriate when the decision is of a simple nature or needs to be made quickly.

More complicated decisions tend to require a more formal, structured approach, usually involving both intuition and reasoning. It is important to be wary of impulsive reactions to a situation.

Applying Both Reason and Intuition

One way to do this is to apply the two aspects in turn. It’s useful to start with reason, and gather facts and figures. Once you have an obvious ‘decision’, it’s the turn of intuition. How do you feel about the ‘answer’? Does it feel right?

If not, have another look, and see if you can work out why not. If you’re not emotionally committed to the decision you’ve made, you won’t implement it well or effectively.

Characteristics of Decision-Making

( – ( Shika, K.)

The important characteristics of decision-making may be listed thus:

1. Goal-Oriented:

Decision-making is a goal-oriented process. Decisions are usually made to achieve some purpose or goal. The intention is to move ‘toward some desired state of affairs’.

2. Presence of Alternatives:

A decision should be viewed as ‘a point reached in a stream of action’. It is characterized by two activities – search and choice. The manager searches for opportunities, to arrive at decisions and for alter­native solutions, so that action may take place. Choice leads to decision. It is the selection of a course of action needed to solve a problem. When there is no choice of action, no decision is required. The need for deci­sion-making arises only when some uncertainty, as to outcome exists.

3. Analytical-Intellectual:

Decision-making is not a purely intellectual process. It has both the intuitive and deductive logic; it contains conscious and unconscious aspects. Part of it can be learned, but part of it depends upon the personal characteristics of the decision maker. Decision-making cannot be completely quantified; nor is it based mainly on reason or intuition. Many decisions are based on emotions or instincts. Decision implies freedom to the decision maker regarding the final choice; it is uniquely human and is the product of deliberation, evaluation and thought.

4. Dynamic Process:

Decision-making is characterized as a process, rather than as, one static entity. It is a process of using inputs effectively in the solution of selected problems and the creation of outputs that have utility. Moreover, it is a process concerned with ‘identifying worthwhile things to do’ in a dynamic setting. A manager for example, may hire people based on merit regularly and also pick up candidates recommended by an influential party, at times. Depending on the situational requirements, managers take suitable decisions using discretion and judgment.

5. Pervasive Function:

Decision-making permeates all management and covers every part of an enterprise. In fact, whatever a manager does, he does through decision-making only; the end products of a manager’s work are decisions and actions. Decision-making is the substance of a manager’s job.

6. Continuous Activity:

The life of a manager is a perpetual choice making activity. He decides things on a continual and regular basis. It is not a one shot deal.

7. Commitment of Time, Effort and Money:

Decision-making implies commitment of time, effort and money. The commitment may be for short term or long-term depending on the type of decision (e.g., strategic, tactical or operating). Once a decision is made, the organisation moves in a specific direction, in order to achieve the goals.

8. Human and Social Process:

Decision-making is a human and social process involving intellectual abilities, intuition and judgment. The human as well as social imparts of a decision are usually taken into ac­count while making the choice from several alternatives. For example, in a labour-surplus, capital-hungry country like India managers cannot suddenly shut down plants, lop off divisions and extend the golden handshake to thousands of workers, in the face of intense competition.

9. Integral Part of Planning:

As Koontz indicated, ‘decision making is the core of planning’. Both are intellectual processes, demanding discretion and judgment. Both aim at achieving goals. Both are situational in nature. Both involve choice among alternative courses of action. Both are based on forecasts and assumptions about future risk and uncertainty.

Types of Decision-Making:

( – ( Shika, K.).

The decisions taken by managers at various points of time may be classified thus:

1. Personal and Organizational Decisions:

Decisions to watch television, to study, or retire early are examples of personal decisions. Such decisions, pertain to managers as individuals. They affect the organisation, in an indirect way. For example, a personal decision to purchase a Maruti rather than an Ambassador, indirectly helps one firm due to the sale and hurts another because of the lost sale. Personal decisions cannot be delegated and have a limited impact.

Organisational decisions are made by managers, in their official or formal capacity. These decisions are aimed at furthering the interests of the organisation and can be delegated. While trying to deliver value to the organisation, managers are expected to keep the interests of all stakeholders also in mind—such as employees, customers, suppliers, the general public etc. they need to take decisions carefully so that all stakeholders benefit by what they do (Like price the products appropriately, do not resort to unethical practices, do not sell low quality goods etc.)

2. Individual and Group Decisions:

Individual decisions are taken by a single individual. They are mostly routine decisions.

Group decisions, on the other hand are decisions taken by a group of individuals constituted for this purpose (for example, Admission Committee of a College, Board of Directors in a company). Group decisions, compared to individual decisions, have far reaching consequences and impact a number of persons and departments. They require serious discussion, deliberation and debate.

The following are the advantages and disadvantages of group decision making.


i. A group has more information than an individual. Members, drawn from diverse fields, can provide more in­formation and knowledge about the problem.

ii. A group can generate a greater num­ber of alternatives. It can bring to bear a wider experience, a greater variety of opinions and more thorough probing of facts than a single individual.

iii. Participation in group decisions in­creases acceptance and commitment on the part of people who now see the solution as their own and acquire a psychological stake in its success.

iv. People understand the decision better because they saw and heard it devel­op; then paving the way for smooth implementation of the decision.

v. Interaction between individuals with varied viewpoints leads to greater creativity.


i. Groups are notorious time-wasters. They may waste a lot of time and energy, clowning around and getting organized.

ii. Groups create pressures towards con­formity; other infirmities, like group think, force members to compromise on the least common denominator.

iii. Presence of some group members, who are powerful and influential may intimidate and prevent other members from participating freely. Domination is counter-productive; it puts a damper on the groups’ best problem solvers.

iv. It may be very costly to secure participation from several individuals in the decision-making process.

v. The group consists of several individuals and hence, it is easy to pass the buck and avoid responsibility.

3. Programmed and Non-Programmed Decisions:

A programmed decision is one that is routine and repetitive. Rules and policies are established well in advance to solve recurring problems quickly. For example a hospital establishes a procedure for admitting new patients and this helps everyone to put things in place quickly and easily even when many patients seek entry into the hospital. Programmed decisions leave no room for discretion. They have to be followed in a certain way. They are generally made by lower level personnel following established rules and procedures.

Non-programmed decisions deal with unique/unusual problems. Such problems crop up suddenly and there is no established procedure or formula to resolve them. Deciding whether to take over a sick unit, how to restructure an organisation to improve efficiency, where to locate a new company warehouse, are examples of non-pro­grammed decisions.

The common feature in these decisions is that they are novel and non-recurring and there are no readymade courses of action to resort to. Because, non-programmed decisions often involve broad, long-range consequences for the organisation, they are made by higher-level personnel only.

Managers need to be creative when solving the infrequent problem; and such situations have to be treated de novo each time they occur. Non-programmed decisions are quite common in such organisations as research and development firms where ‘situa­tions are poorly structured and decisions being made are non-routine and complex.

4. Strategic, Administrative and Routine Decisions:

Strategic decision-making is a top management responsibility. These are key, important and most vital decisions affecting many parts of an organisation. They require sizeable allocation of resources. They are future-oriented with long-term ramifications. They can either take a company to commanding heights or make it a ‘bottomless pit’!

Administrative decisions deal with operational issues—dealing with how to get various aspects of strategic decisions implemented smoothly at various levels in an organisation. They are mostly handled by middle level managers.

Routine decisions, on the other hand, are repetitive in nature. They require little deliberation and are generally concerned with short-term commitments. They ‘tend to have only minor effects on the welfare of the organisation’. Generally, lower-level managers look after such mechanical or operating decisions.

The decision-making process, described here is based on certain assumptions:

i. Decision-Making is a Goal-Oriented Process:

According to the rational economic model, the decision-maker has a clear, well-defined goal that he is trying to maximize. Before formulating the goal, the decision-maker can identify the symptoms of a problem and clearly specify one best way to solve the same.

ii. All Choices are Known:

It is assumed that in a given decision situation, all choices available to the decision-maker are known or given and the consequences or outcomes of all actions are also known. The decision maker can list- (i) the relevant criteria; (ii) feasible alternatives; and (iii) the consequences for each alternative.

iii. Order of Preference:

It is assumed that the decision maker can rank all consequences, according to preference and select the alternative which has the preferred consequences. In other words, the decision maker knows how to relate consequences to goals. He knows which consequence is the best (optimality-criterion).

iv. Maximum Advantage:

The decision maker has the freedom to choose the alternative that best optimises the decision. In other words, he would select that alternative which would maximise his satisfaction. The decision maker has complete knowledge and is a logical, systematic maximiser in economic-technical terms.

 Factors that can prevent effective decision-making:


1. Not Enough or too much Information:

  • If you do not have enough information, it can be a decision without any basis. Take some time to gather the necessary data to inform your decision, even if the timescale is very tight. If necessary, prioritise your information-gathering by identifying which information will be most important to you.
  • The opposite problem, having so much conflicting information that it is impossible to see ‘the wood for the trees’ is sometimes called analysis paralysis, and is also used as a tactic to delay organisational decision-making,
  • This problem can often be resolved by getting everyone together to decide what information is really important and why, and by setting a clear timescale for decision-making, including an information-gathering stage.

2. Too Many People

Making decisions by committee is difficult. Everyone has their own views, and their own values. And while it’s important to know what these views are, and why and how they are important, it may be essential for one person to take responsibility for making a decision. Sometimes, any decision is better than none.

3. Vested Interests

Decision-making processes often founder under the weight of vested interests. These vested interests are often not overtly expressed, but may be a crucial blockage. Because they are not overtly expressed, it is hard to identify them clearly, and therefore address them, but it can sometimes be possible to do so by exploring them with someone outside the process, but in a similar position.

It can also help to explore the rational/intuitive aspects with all stakeholders, usually with an external facilitator to support the process.

4. Emotional Attachments

People are often very attached to the status quo. Decisions tend to involve the prospect of change, which many people find difficult. For more about overcoming this, see our pages on Change Management, but also remember that ‘deciding not to decide’ is also a decision.

5. No Emotional Attachment

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a decision because you just don’t care one way or the other. In this case, a structured decision-making process can often help by identifying some very real pros and cons of particular actions, that perhaps you hadn’t thought about before.

6. Impossible to State the Problems Accurately:

It is often impossible to reduce organisational problems to accurate levels. An accurate, precise and comprehensive definition of the problem as assumed under the model may not be possible. Moreover, relevant goals may not be fully understood or may be in conflict with each other. Striking a balance between goals such as growth, profitability, social responsibility, ethics, survival, etc., may be difficult and as such, the assumption that the de­cision maker has a single, well-defined goal in an organisational setting appears to be unfortunate.

7. Not Fully Aware of Problems:

Frequently, the manager does not know that he has a problem. If the organisation is successful and is flourish­ing, managers may not be in a position to assign their valuable time to searching future problems. As rightly commented by Weber’s, if current performance is satisfactory, few of us use present time to search for future problems.

8. Limited Time and Resources:

Most managers work under tremendous pressure to meet the challenges posed by internal as well as external factors. They have to operate under ‘do or die’ situations and investing more time than necessary would mean lost opportunities and conse­quently, lost business. This pressure to act pushes the decision managers to choose quickly. Moreover, obtaining full information would be too costly.

If resources are limited, the decisions should be taken in such a manner so as to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. Less effective solutions may be accepted, if substantial savings are made in the use of resources. Working under severe time and cost constraints, managers may settle down for less optimal decisions rather than wasting time and effort in finding an ‘ideal’ solution.

8. Cognitive Limits:

Most of the decision makers may not be gifted with supernatural powers to turn out a high-quality decision, every time they sit through a problem. They may not be able to process large amounts of environmental information, loaded with technicalities and competitive data, thoroughly.

Also, difficulties arise in relating them successfully to confusing organisational objectives. When managers are invaded with intricate details regarding various fields, they try to simplify the decision-making process by reducing the number of alternatives to a manageable number.

When the thinking capacity is overloaded, rational decisions give way to bounded decisions. Instead of considering eight to ten alternatives, managers may deal with only three or four, to avoid overloading and confusion. They simplify the ‘complex fabric of the environment’, into workable conceptions of their decision problems.

9. Politics:

The normative model, unfortunately, ignores the influence of powerful individuals and groups on the decision-making process. Many studies have revealed decision-making to be political in nature, accom­modating the dissimilar and sometimes, conflicting interests of different groups (labour unions, consumer councils, government agencies, local community). In order to satisfy these groups, the decision maker may have to assign weightage to less optimal solutions, at the expense of organisational efficiency.

Thus, the rational economic model is based on a defective logic and reasoning. It is an idealistic, perhaps even naive, model of decision-making which works only when all the underlying assumptions prevail. The complexities of the real world force us to reject the traditional concepts.

We are compelled to consider a more realistic theory which receives inputs from both the quantifiable and non-quantifiable variables: a theory which ‘focuses on human involvement in the various steps of the (decision-making) process and allows for the impact of numerous environmental factors’.

Process and Steps in Decision-Making:

According to Stanley Vance, decision-making consists of the following six steps:

1. Perception., 2. Conception. 3. Investigation. 4. Deliberation. 5. Selection. 6. Promulgation

1. Perception:

Perception is a state of awareness. In a man consciousness arises out of perception. Consciousness gives tilt to the decision-making process. The executive first perceives and then moves on to choose one of the alternatives and thus takes a decision. Perception is, therefore, an important and first step without which decisions relating to any of the problems of the organisation cannot be taken. Other steps follow “perception” is the first step in decision­-making.

2. Conception:

Conception means designs for action or programme for action. Conception relates to that power of mind which develops ideas out of what has been perceived.

3. Investigation:

The investigation provides an equipment with the help of which the manager tries to go ahead with a debate either in his mind independently or with his co-workers. Perception is a sort of location of the problem whereas conception is the preparation of design or programme for solving the problem. But only perception and conception cannot offer the solution.

For solution investigation is to be carried out. Information relevant to a particular concept is to be sought, acquired and then analysed. Relative merits and demerits of a different analysed concepts should be measured. Alternative course of action is to be thought, analysed and compared to. This needs investigation with which the manager should be armed.

4. Deliberation:

Weighing the consequences of possible course of action is called deliberation. The manager may either weigh the relative merits and demerits and the following consequences in his own mind or share his mental exercise with others to equip himself better. The deliberations remove bias and equip the manager with different ideas and alternatives and help him in arriving at a decision which may safely be ascribed as good decision.

5. Selection:

Selection is an act of the choice which in management terminology is known as decision. After deliberations one of the alternatives, the best possible in the circumstances, is selected.

6. Promulgation:

Perception, conception, investigation, deliberation and lastly selection will carry weight only when selected – the chosen alternative, that is, the decision – is properly and timely communicated to all those who are concerned and for whom the decision is meant. Only proper promulgation will help its execution.


Sec 05: Problem Solving Skill: Definition, meaning, effectiveness, developing PSS, creativity / lateral thinking skill


Everyone needs to face number of problems and have to be solved; it is also equally important to note that there is a solution for every problem. Obviously, every organization has problems and every individual has problems too. For this reason, the ability to solve problems is of great importance to individuals and organizations

Meaning of Problem Solving

A problem is any unpleasant situation which prevents people from achieving what they want to achieve. Any activity to eliminate a problem is termed problem solving. It is a process. Problem solving is a planned attack upon a difficulty for the purpose of finding a solution. It enables a teacher to exercise control over his activities and learning environment. The teacher has to define the problem solving technique; it needs the ability to see the problem clearly and the power to analyze with a keen discernment and the faculty to synthesize and draw conclusions with an uncanny accuracy.


  • It is an act of defining a problem, determining the cause of the problem, identifying, prioritizing, and selecting alternatives for a solution and implementing a solution.
  • It refers to our ability to solve problems in an effective and timely manner without any impediments.

Importance / Effectiveness of problem solving skills

  • Make the impossible possible. Knowledge alone is not the key to solving problems but rather, complimenting it with systematic problem solving approaches makes the difference. This helps individuals and organizations overcome perilous challenges.
  • Makes you a stand out. People are trained to do the usual. They have acquired skills and knowledge in what they do. However, people can hardly solve problems when they are unexpected or unprecedented ones. If you become a regular problem solver at your workplace, you are easily noticed, recognized, and appreciated.
  • Increases confidence. No matter where you work or what your profession is, having the ability to solve problems will boost your confidence level. Because you are sure of your ability to solve problems, you don’t spend time worrying about what you will do if a problem should arise.

How to improve your problem solving skills?

  • Detach yourself from the problem. Don’t regard yourself as the problem itself and don’t presume you are incapacitated to solve the problem. See the problem as the enemy that has to be defeated by you.
  • Analyze it in parts and not as a whole. Don’t see the problem as a whole big unit that needs to be fixed – That may deter you from attempting to solve it. Rather, break it into parts and tackle them step by step, and portion by portion.
  • Be inquisitive and investigative. Being inquisitive and conducting thorough investigation and research helps you identify what the core of the problem is. In other words, it grants you access to the cause of the problem. Once the real cause of the problem is known, it becomes easier to solve it.
  • Be open to suggestions. Other people’s contributions can be very helpful. It saves you the time of having to search for every piece of information that is needed.
  • Acquire more technical knowledge in your field
  • Seek out opportunities to problem solve
  • Do practice problems
  • Observe how others problem solve

A teacher should

  • focus more on the problem where it occurs.
  • develop relationship between the students and the background of the problems.
  • have careful and systematic approach with an active process of search.
  • have positive attitude and self-confidence in solving the problem.