This article is about Benne and Sheats’ Group Roles, a study on the roles played by different team members and how it is related to team management. It is a. Two leading theorists on group behavior, Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats developed the following typology to describe group roles by dividing. folklore as well as in personality structure are illustrated. Over 50 years ago, Benne and Sheats () identified 27 functional roles in small-group settings.

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Documents Flashcards Grammar checker. How these people interact and relate to one another is a key factor in determining how successful the team will be at achieving its mission. So, how do people behave ebnne the teams that you grroup with? The way that people behave in teams varies. Some people are helpful and supportive, others are more concerned with rolex the work done, and still others can cause friction, disharmony or discord within the team.

While there is no magic elixir, knowing what moves teams forward and rolrs limits their progress can be helpful whenever you are working in a group or team. Two influential theorists sheeats group behavior were Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats, who wrote an respected article titled “Functional Roles of Group Members” back in the s. In it, they defined 26 different group roles that can be played by one or more people within a group.

Their work influenced other early research and thinking on group functions. And whilst more recent research has refined many of these ideas, Benne and Sheats’ Group Roles remains a useful and interesting way of looking at group behavior. Benne and Sheats defined three categories of group roles: Task Roles These are the roles that relate to getting bsnne work done. They represent the different roles needed to take a project step-by-step from initial conception through to action.

Individuals may fulfill many of these roles during the life of a project. This role initiates discussions and move groups into new areas of exploration. Information Seeker — Requests clarification of comments in terms of their factual adequacy. Seeks expert information or facts relevant to the problem.

Benne and Sheats’ Group Roles

Determines what information is missing and needs behne be found before moving forward. Information Giver — Provides factual information to the group. Is seen as an authority on the subject and relates own experience when relevant.

Opinion Seeker — Asks for clarification of the values, attitudes, and opinions of group members. Checks to make sure different perspectives are given. Opinion Giver — Expresses his or her own opinions and beliefs about the subject being discussed.

Often states opinions in terms of what the group “should” do. Elaborator — Takes other people’s initial ideas and builds on them with examples, relevant facts and data. Also looks at the consequences of proposed ideas and actions. Co-ordinator — Identifies and explains the relationships between ideas.

May shewts together a few different ideas and make them cohesive. Orienter — Reviews and clarifies the group’s position. Provides a summary of what has been accomplished, notes where the group has veered off course, and suggests how to get back on target. Assesses the reasonableness of a proposal and genne at whether it is fact-based and manageable as a solution. Energizer — Concentrates the group’s energy on forward movement.

Challenges and stimulates the group to take further action. Procedural Technician — Facilitates group discussion by taking care of logistical concerns like where meetings are to take place and what supplies are goup for each meeting. Recorder — Acts as the secretary or minute-keeper.


Records ideas and keeps track of what goes on at each meeting. Encourager — Affirms, supports and praises the efforts of fellow group members. Demonstrates warmth and shets a positive attitude in meetings. Harmonizer — Conciliates differences between individuals.

Seeks ways to reduce tension and diffuse a situation by providing further explanations or using humor. Compromiser — Offers to change his or her position for the good of the group. Willing to yield position or meet others half way. Makes sure all members have a chance to express themselves by encouraging the shy and quiet members to contribute their ideas. Limits those who dominate the conversation and may suggest group rules anv standards that ensure everyone gets a chance to speak up.

Often seen when a group wants to set, evaluate, or change its standards and processes. Follower sgeats Accepts what others say and decide even though he or she has not contributed to the decision or expressed own thoughts. Seen as a listener not a contributor. Aggressor — Makes personal attacks using belittling and insulting comments, for example, “That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. Blocker — Bwnne every idea or opinion that is put forward and yet refuses to make own suggestions, for example, “That’s not a good idea.

Recognition Seeker — Uses group meetings to draw personal attention shezts him or herself. May brag about past accomplishments or relay irrelevant stories that paint him or her in a positive light.

Sometimes pulls crazy stunts to attract attention like acting silly, sgeats excess noise, or otherwise directing members away from the task at hand. Self-confessor — Uses the group meetings as an avenue to disclose personal feelings and issues.

Tries to slip these comments in under the guise of relevance, such as “That reminds me of a time when. For example, if two others are disagreeing about something, the Self-confessor may say, “You guys fight just like me and my wife. Distracts other people by telling jokes, playing pranks, or even reading unrelated material. Dominator — Tries to control the conversation and dictate what people should be doing. Often exaggerates his or her knowledge and will monopolize any conversation claiming to know more about the situation and have better solutions than anybody else.

Help Seeker — Actively looks for sympathy by expressing feelings of inadequacy. Acts helpless, self deprecating and unable to contribute, e. Avoids revealing his or her own biases or opinions by using a stereotypical position instead, for example, “The people over in Admin sure wouldn’t like that idea.

However, we can use the theory to look at and improve group effectiveness and harmony, by asking what roles are being filled, which additional ones might be required, and which may need to be eliminated. Benne and Sheats noted that the roles required in a group can vary depending on the stage of group development and the tasks in hand. And it’s useful to consider how your group is developing and how the task may vary when reviewing your group’s roles.

Follow these steps to use Benne and Sheats’ theory to consider the roles in your group: Determine what stage or function your group is at, based on what you are working on or discussing.

Roles in the Group

Discussing tasks and roles. Completing tasks and duties. Here are some examples: You will, however, need Energizers, Procedural Technicians, and a Reporter. Benne and Sheats suggested that the more group members playing Task and Social roles, the more successful the group would be. Help the group understand where there are gaps in the functions being represented and discuss how filling these roles would help the group’s success.


Benne and Sheats also said that the more flexible the group members are, the better; meaning that group members should be able to adapt their roles depending on the group’s need. With a flexible group structure like this, members each use a wide range of talents, and provide maximum contribution to the team.


Identify any dysfunctional roles being played within the group. Make a plan to eliminate this behavior either through increased awareness, coaching, or feedback.

These self-serving roles really must be minimized or eliminated for effective group work to emerge. By making the whole group aware of these maladaptive behaviors, individuals can monitor the behavior and put a name to it when it occurs. This alone should decrease much of the disruptive behavior. This is an important and particularly useful part of this theory: These behaviors are disruptive and damaging.

By spotting these behaviors and coaching people out of them, you can significantly improve your group process. Riles are constantly changing their function and purpose. Make sure you continuously evaluate what is going on within the group and take action to maximize effectiveness.

Benne and Sheats’ work is based on their observations, but there is no clear evidence to support the notion that you need to have all of these roles represented or to suggest what combination is the most effective. As such, don’t depend too heavily on this theory when structuring your team. That said, just knowing about Benne and Sheats’ Rolles Roles can bring more harmony to your team, as it helps members appreciate the breadth of roles that can contribute to the work of a team and its social harmony, as well as the behaviors which will obstruct it’s path.

Key Points There are many different explanations of group roles and functions. Each takes a slightly different perspective. However, the consensus rolew to be that an effective group has a wide representation of positive roles.

Groups need to be able to adapt to the changes from outside and within the group itself. People change, opinions change, conflicts occur; all of these require group flexibility and social understanding.

Benne and Sheats’ role definitions are useful for looking at specific behaviors that occur within a group. By sheqts the definitions given and evaluating the current function and needs of the group, you can plan to encourage the sorts of behaviors you need and discourage those that you don’t. These definitions also provide a guide for team member development, as the more positive behaviors each person can display, the better able the whole group will be to respond to the demands put on it.

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