Functional and Task Roles in Groups

This set of roles or behaviors centers around those communication functions that must be performed if the group is to achieve its desired purpose. These roles primarily concentrate on the duties and responsibilities of the members to get the discussion started and to keep it moving toward its goal.

  1. Your participation should adhere to the logical pattern selected by the group. Stay on track.

  2. Your contributions should reflect your preparation and research. Unsupported generalizations and unwarranted assertions harm the entire group. A competent participant talks about ideas and information. Information gathered from reliable sources.

  3. Make your presence known throughout the discussion. Take it upon yourself to be an active member of the group. The amount of time the group has, and the number of participants will obviously influence the frequency and length of your contribution but you should feel free to participate as often as you have something to say. When possible you should keep your contributions brief and precise.

  4. Ask questions of the other participants. A lack of understanding about what is said by any of the participants hampers the reflective process. By asking questions of one another when there is a basic misunderstanding or need for information the group can overcome many obstacles. By raising questions the group can locate errors in their reasoning.

  5. Supply leadership for the group whenever needed. Many participants rely solely on the leader for decisions that should be the responsibility of the participants. There are many functions of a leader that can easily be performed by any alert member of the group. Samovar and Mills

Task Oriented Roles in Groups

The following are some task roles that help the group realize its goals.

Initiating–the member defines a problem, suggests methods, goals and procedures and starts the group moving along new paths or in different directions by offering a plan.

Information seeking–the member asks for facts and opinions and seeks relevant information about the problem.

Opinion seeking–the member solicits expressions of feeling and value in order to discover the values underlying the group effort.

Information giving–the member provides ideas and suggestions and supplies personal experiences as well as factual data.

Opinion giving–the member supplies opinions, values and beliefs and reveals his/her feelings about what is being discussed.

Clarifying–the member elaborates on the ideas of others, supplies paraphrases, offers examples or illustrations and tries to eliminate confusion and increase clarity.

Coordinating–the member summarizes ideas and tries to draw various contributions together constructively.

Evaluating–the member evaluates the group’s decisions or proposed solutions and helps establish standards for judgements.

Consensus testing–the member checks on the stage of group agreement to see if the group is nearing a decision. Gamble and Gamble


Gamble, Terri Cwal, and Michael Gamble. (1999). Communication Works
Sixth Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill College.

Samovar, Larry, and Jack Mills. (1992). Oral Communication: Message
and Response Eighth Edition. Debuke, IA: William C. Brown.

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