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Managing virtual project teams
Managing virtual project teams

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1.3 Group working functions

The skills the project manager needs to consider in the team members are not just the required technical ones, but also the ability to carry out functions supporting group working and the team itself. This (1974) described these team and group working support functions as task and maintenance functions. People usually take on a number of roles during the life of a team and these can be placed under these task and maintenance headings, both of which are necessary for the team to achieve what it sets out to do. Task functions help to get the job done and will have an influence upon product quality by doing such things as initiating action, seeking information and opinions, clarifying and summarising. Maintenance functions hold the team together and keep good relations going between its members by such activities as encouraging, harmonising and setting standards.

Levi (2007) argues that, to function effectively, groups perform two basic types of behaviours: task and social behaviours, with the latter focusing on the social and emotional needs of group members. He cites the work of Benne and Sheets (1948) in a table of types of group behaviours.

Table 2 Types of group behaviours
Task behaviours 
Initiator/contributorProposes new ideas or new ways for the group to act
Information giverProvides data and facts for decision making
Information seekerRequests more information to help in making decisions
Opinion giverProvides opinions, values and feelings
Opinion seekerRequests the opinions of others in making decisions
CoordinatorShows relationships of ideas to organise the discussion
EnergiserStimulates the group to continue working
Evaluator/criticQuestions the group’s ideas and procedures
Social behaviours 
EncouragerSupports and rewards others
HarmoniserMediates conflicts among members
CompromiserShifts their position in order to reduce conflict
ExpediterFacilitates communications from others
Standard setterEvaluates the quality of the group’s interactions
FollowerAccepts ideas of others
Group process observerObserves and comments on the group’s processes
(Levi, 2007, p. 67, Table 4.1)