Department of Communication

Roles in Groups

Benne and Sheats (1948) identified three broad types of roles people play in small groups: task roles, building and maintenance roles, and self-centered roles.

Task Roles: Focus is on completing group’s goal

Coordinator: Relates statements made by one group member to another
“Krista’s comment relate well to what Erik was saying.”

Energizer: Stimulates group to take action
“How many of you are willing to bring in a video on conflict for the next class?

Elaborator: Expands upon another’s ideas
“I think what Kristina and Jennifer are suggesting is that we first explain nonverbal before we turn to verbal communication.”

Evaluator-critic: Assesses the group’s work by higher standards
“This is okay, but I think Lisa needs to give more feedback.”

Information-giver: Provides helpful information
“Jake has some books about conflict we could use.”

Information-seeker: Asks for clarification
“Lisa D. or Laura, could you please tell me what you said about disconfirming responses?”

Recorder: Keep notes (minutes) about meeting
“Last class we did not get to J-P’s presentation. Dave and Michelle had just finished theirs.”

Procedural Technician: Takes responsibility for tasks
“I checked out the VCR for Adam and LeighAnne’s presentations.”

Group-Building/Maintenance Roles
Focus is on building interpersonal relationships, maintaining harmony

Encourager: Provides positive feedback
“I think what Heather was saying was totally right.”

Follower: Accepts ideas of others in group
“Let’s follow Cotton’s plan—he had the right idea.”

Compromiser: Attempts to reach a solution everyone finds acceptable
“Nicole, Beth, and Nimat have offered three great solutions. Why don’t we integrate them?”

Gatekeeper: Facilitates participation from everyone in group
“I don’t think we’ve heard from Monique yet.”

Harmonizer: Reduces conflict and tension (often through humor)
“After that exam, we deserve a free meal!”

Observer: Evaluates group progress
“I think we’ve learned a lot so far. Sara and Heather gave us great information.”

Self-centered Roles: Focus is to prevent group from reaching goals; to disrupt

Aggressor: Acts antagonistic towards other group members and their ideas
“Playing desert survival is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Dominator: Monopolizes group speaking time
Interrupting—“I’m going to tell you the six reasons why this is a bad idea.”

Blocker: Refuses to cooperate with other’s ideas
“I refuse to play Desert Survival.”

Help-Seeker: Acts helpless to avoid work
“I don’t think I can put together a bibliography. Why don’t you do it for me?”

Loafer: Avoids work
“Why don’t we just go have drinks instead of finishing this project.”

Special Interest Advocate: Presents own viewpoint and needs
“I can’t meet tomorrow. I need to sleep late and call my mom.”

Self-confessor: Discusses topics only of importance to self and not the group
“I really like coffee. Yesterday I went to Kiva Han. Their coffee is better than what you get elsewhere . . .”

More Information