Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

Task, Method, and Relationship

Task issues are directly related to accomplishing the goals mutually and explicitly defined by the group as its reason for being. Examples of task issues include:

  1. Which of these proposals solves the problem most effectively?
  2. Shall we approve this new course?
  3. What will be our criteria for judging whether this project is successful?

Method issues focus specifically on the means by which the group will work at the task. Examples of method issues include:

  1. How are we going to make decisions in this group?
  2. How do we ensure that the opinions of each member of the group are given an adequate hearing?
  3. How long should this meeting last?

Relationship issues related to both the relationships developed through working on the convening task and relationships between members of the group and the total group itself, which members may have brought to the group or developed during its meetings. Examples of relationship issues include:

  1. I feel isolated from the group and hurt by the apparent lack of concern of other members.
  2. I really enjoy working with members of this group.
  3. Jim and Susan never seem to be paying attention to me when I express an opinion they don’t agree with.

Task, method, and relationship issues are closely interrelated and tend to stimulate one another. For example, a group may be having a great deal of trouble arriving at a satisfactory decision-making procedure; this looks like a method issue. However, if what is blocking the group is a contest for leadership and influence between two members of the group, the group is faced with a relationship issue and no amount of work at the method level will resolve the difficulty. Both method and relationship concerns may be disguised as task work, with the group struggling to reach a decision on a task issue while process difficulties build up and multiply.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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