Leading and managing teams

Communication within teams; task and maintenance activities
Research on the social psychology of groups identifies two types of
activities that are essential to members of a team if they are to work
well together over time.
task activities - these contribute directly to the team's
performance purpose. They are functions within a group that are
directed toward problem-solving, the accomplishment of the tasks
of the group and achievement of its goals.
maintenance activities - these support the emotional life of the
team as an ongoing social system. They are functions within the
group that are concerned with the emotional life of the group and
directed towards building and maintaining the group as an effective
working unit.
Although the team leader will often need to handle both activities; the
responsibility for both types of activity should be shared or distributed
among all team members. This is known as the concept of distributed
leadership in teams and it makes every member continually responsible
for both recognising when task or maintenance activities are needed and
taking action to provide them.
Without task activities the team will have difficulty accomplishing
their objectives.
Without maintenance activities the team might not function and/or
perpetuate as a social system.
When the maintenance activities are good and there are good
interpersonal relationships within a team members can stay together and
work together effectively.
In addition to task and maintenance behaviour members of the group or
team may say or do something in attempting to satisfy a personal need or
goal. This is termed self oriented behaviour.
One method of classifying the member roles of group behaviour is that
developed by Benne and Sheats - group task roles, group maintenance
roles, and individual roles.
group task roles these assume the task of the group is to select,
define and solve common problems.
group building and maintenance roles - the analysis of member
functions is orientated towards activities which build the group
centred attitudes or maintain group centered behaviour.
individual roles - these are directed towards satisfaction of
person needs. Their purpose is not related either to the group
task or to the group functioning
Often organisations concentrate on the formal task activities and ignore
the maintenance activities.
Based on material in Schermehorn J R Management 2005 8th ed and LJ Mullins
(management and organisational behaviour 7 th edition2006)
Communication networks within teams
These may be either:
 centralized - all communication is routed through a central point or
decentralized - team members can communicate directly with
each other.
restricted - when subgroups become polarized due to (temporary)
debate or disagreement. Communication within the subgroups may
be decentralized but between the groups it may be very
Wheel - centralised network communication structure. Quite efficient
the simple tasks problems can be resolved quickly. Central person within
the wheel (the hub) can communicate with the spokes quickly. May not be
that satisfying for the people working at the edges.
Circle - a decentralised network; communication might be slow and less
efficient than the wheel but might better at solving complex problems.
Can cope with change more efficiently and quickly than the wheel. Circle
network is quite satisfying for members
All channel (or comcon, or star communication) a decentralised network
which involves full discussion between members. Tends to work best
where there is a high level of interaction required among all members in
order to solve complex problems. Group member satisfaction tends to be
fairly high.
Y or T chains or Chains - centralized might be appropriate for simple
problem-solving tasks require little interaction among members
information tends to float on the predetermined channel. Group member
satisfaction may be low to moderate
From LJ Mullins (management and organisational behaviour 7th edition2006 p559-561)