Home Organizational Psychology Intervention / Consulting Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

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Interrelationship among Task, Method, and Relationship

The issues surrounding method discussions are central to the task and relationship dimension of group functioning. Effective methods allow for both satisfactory performance of the task and creation of high group morale. A decision, for instance, which after careful deliberation about alternative choices has the support of all or most members of the group, usually will be a good decision, as well as one that all member of the group are committed to implementing.

Similarly, the task and relationship dimensions of group functioning are closely interrelated. If the group does not succeed in solving task problems and moves toward implementing good decisions, its members either develop negative feelings about the group, thus further impeding success at the task, or begin to distort reality by creating scapegoats, denying failure, and so forth. A group with serious and unresolved relationship problems rarely performs effectively at the task level. Disaffected members sabotage the group’s task. They engage in this destructive behavior as a way of dealing indirectly with their neglected process needs.

Use of the T-M-R Model in a Decision-Making Group

An empowered decision-making group usually will begin its work at the method level. It will decide how it wants to decide. Consideration, in this appreciative context, also will be given to immediate relationship issues. The group may wish to deal with personal goals related to the task, with interpersonal difficulties some members bring into the group from previous contact with the same people, and with issues of inclusion and influence. If method decisions are appropriate to the group and task; and if the relationship issues are dealt with the group will spend most of its time working effectively at making decisions. Most decision-making groups, however, tend to begin their work at the task level and to remain there.

As they emerge, method and relationship concerns are viewed as disagreements over the decision, to which the response is frequently to push harder at trying to make the decision. As the group continues to beat its head against the task wall, process issues emerge in more or less undisguised form: “That’s what you said the last time and look what happened!” “You male chauvinists just won’t accept any idea from a woman, will you?” At this point, without rapid group attention to the neglected process and method issues, the group is dangerously near dissolution.

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