Part I: Improving Meeting Dynamics: Identifying and understanding 3 categories of team meeting needs — Task, Individual, and Group Maintenance Needs.
It’s Sunday evening, and you settle down to watch tennis , football or hot melodramatic detective show and then start to think about the mandatory Monday morning sales and operation meeting. The agenda has been send out on Friday and everyone has had an opportunity to contribute to the agenda. So why as you ponder this meeting does dread rise up and you stomach start to grumble? Let’s review the group dynamic that states when a group of people get together, there are several kinds of things that need attention, different kinds of need. There are three principal kinds of need or categories which are important to understand when operating within a group environment.
These three needs are:
1. task needs–the group has a job to do
2. individual needs–every individual because of their uniqueness may have different needs that need to be met, such as recognition, control or status.
3. group or team maintenance needs–this is the need of the group as whole to maintain, support and work for corporate cohesion and accomplishment of team goals.
This last team process of group maintenance needs is one element that many team leaders and groups overlook in managing and conducting meetings. This element is called the “maintenance function” because it tries to prevent problems and issues that will reduce the ability of the group to work in an efficient and effect manner to produce desired results. This 3rd element is difficult to to define because we spent so much time and are so familiar with the other critical group element the “task function.” So for the remainder of this post I will explain why this element of group maintenance is the most important element for you as a manager or facilitator to understand. The “maintenance function” is a soft skill need of members to identify and share how they feel about the process elements of the meeting, like agenda building, how to arrive at consensus, and other ways the group works together to build trust, set guidelines for interaction and how the group can continually improve their communication skills and problem solving. Although the feelings about working together start with individuals I have found that the group as whole has a need to maintain and enrich its own identity through openness of discussions, sharing of view points and feelings, and working for cooperation and cohesiveness in decision making and planning.
In part 2 the next post, we will look in more detail at the Task and Individual needs of group members how these needs impact the roles and effectiveness of team meetings.