Roles – Types, Problems of Group Roles

Table of Contents:-

  • Roles
  • Group Roles
  • Types of Group Roles
  • Problems of Group Roles


Roles consist of a pattern of norms, it is a position that can be executed by an individual. The content of a given role is agreed upon by the prevailing norms. The role can be defined as a position that has expectations growing from established norms.

Group Roles

Group roles are the combination of behaviours expected from an employee who is engaged in some specific position in the organization. It means that everyone in the group has a particular function or goal. The behaviours include work duties as well as extra-curricular activities. Understanding the respective functions of members in a group can increase the efficiency of group activities.

Members need to become aware of their perceived roles, along with how others recognise their roles. Some roles of group members are fundamental as they guide and push the group towards achieving its objectives. However, some roles are derived from the personal needs of the individual and may prevent the group from achieving its efficiency and effectiveness.

Types of Group Roles

Types of roles performed by members of a group can be categorised as follows:

1) Task Role

The roles which involve selection, defining, and inter-grouping processes to solve universal problems are termed task roles.

Several roles may be carried out by the various members, or the leader of the group:

i) Initiator-Contributor: Recommends tasks and goals for the group, identifies issues that need to be resolved and proposes procedures to approach and present new ideas.

ii) Information-Seeker: Requires information about the task, clarifies issues, and checks the correctness of facts. 

iii) Opinion-Seeker: Enquires contribution from the group about its value system, looks for the presentation of opinions, and consent of all members to ensure full participation and different opinion expressed.

iv) Information-Giver: Provides facts, ideas, and information relating to the group issues and offers several alternate solutions to handle the problem.

v) Opinion-Giver: Suggests his or her attitudes and values about the problems immediately.

vi) Elaborator: Details others’ ideas and explains those ideas within the group, offering examples to simplify the ideas.

vii) Coordinator: Seeks to determine common thoughts among the presented ideas and integrates them.

viii) Orienter: Helps to modify the direction of the group’s discussion.

ix) Evaluator-Critic: Analyses the activities of groups against some predefined standards.

x) Energiser: Encourages the group towards higher performance.

xi) Procedural-Technician: They provide logistical support to the group. 

xii) Recorder: Maintains a record of group activities.

Related Article:- Group Decision Making 

2) Relationship or Group Building and Maintenance Role

The functions of the members should be focused and directed towards developing and maintaining group behaviour. Contributions may result in several roles and members or the leader may perform each of these roles:

i) Encourager: Acknowledges the ideas of others.

ii) Harmoniser: Resolves and settles down the differences between the group members, reduces tension, and ensures that mutual differences among the members are identified and resolved satisfactorily.

iii) Compromiser: When an individual’s idea of status is involved in a conflict, it results in compromising his position; confessing his errors and trying to control himself to sustain the unity of the group.

iv) Gatekeeper/Expediter: Supports open communication, creates space to encourage contributions from others and suggests ways to share ideas.

v) Standard Setter: Gives suggestions for setting standards or criteria for the group to achieve.

vi) Group Observer: Maintains a record of group activities and uses this information to offer feedback to the group.

vii) Follower: Follows the norms of the group and accepts the ideas of the group.

Problems of Group Roles

Problems with group roles are as follows:

1) Dysfunctional/Self-Oriented/Individual Roles

Dysfunctional roles denote those behaviours which are individual or self-oriented and hence, slow down the progress of the group. These roles aim at the satisfaction of personal needs and not a group task or group functioning.

Dysfunctional roles include the following roles:

i) Aggressor: These people oppose and offend other members of their group.

ii) Blocker: Resists the progress of the group.

iii) Recognition-Seeker: These people are only concerned with seeking the attention of others for themselves.

iv) Self-Confessor: These people try to reveal their non-group-related viewpoints. 

v) Dominator: These people try to influence and rule over other group members.

vi) Help-Seeker: These people seek attention by way of gaining consideration from others.

vii) Special Interest Pleader: These people make use of labels to emphasise their injustices.

2) Role Conflict

A member has many roles to perform as a group. As per the study of organisational behaviour, amongst all the roles, the organisational role of the individual is the most significant. Now while performing the organisational roles, in case the expectations of a role are substantially different or opposite from the behaviour expected by the individual in that role, the member experiences a role conflict because there is no way to satisfy an expectation without turning down the other alternative.

There may be four types of role conflicts, as given below:

i) Intra-Sender Role Conflict: Intra-sender role conflict arises due to an incompatible set of role expectations from a single member. This occurs when a person is expected to perform work within the specified limit, whereas it is not possible to do the work within the given limit. 

ii) Inter-Sender Role Conflict: This conflict arises when the set of role expectations sent by a member are incompatible with other members of the group.

iii) Inter-Role Conflict: A member may also suffer from inter-role conflict in performing two or more roles at the same time while the expectations related to those roles are incompatible. 

iv) Role-Self Conflict: When requirements associated with a role affect the needs, values and capabilities of an individual then role-self conflict takes place.

3) Role Ambiguity

In the absence of clarity of roles, the individual cannot decide what to do. This signifies role ambiguity. Under such circumstances, the person’s perception of the role can differ from the other’s expectations. This means that enough information is not available to perform the role adequately. 

Role ambiguity may occur in the absence of well-defined expectations. It generally happens in large organisations or diversified groups or during regularly changing conditions. Ambiguity is associated with the technique of executing tasks, the degree of authority and responsibility possessed by a person, work standards, etc.


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