Balance of task and group needs

Most constructive behaviour in a group can be classified either as actions directed toward the achievement of a task,or actions directed toward building the group and maintaining its cohesiveness and morale. Typically, groups are primarily task oriented (Figure 45.3), especially during their initial stages of development. Participation is characteristically related to information and opinion giving and discussion of details related to the task. However, while these factors are important, achievement and morale will be limited unless the leader is aware of group needs and deliberately facilitates the development of trust, cohesion and effective functioning.

Outdoor adventure groups exist for the purpose of carrying out a task that a group can do better, more enjoyably and more safely than an individual. It is the leader’s responsibility not only to ensure that the task needs are met, but also to help this collection of individuals, all with their own needs, to work together as a group. A knowledge of group needs and group dynamics enables you to make better plans, understand what is happening in the group and more effectively meet its changing needs by modifying behaviour and style as appropriate.