Task-Oriented Behaviour (TOB’s)
Task-oriented leaders have a preference for behaviours that get the necessary task, or series of tasks, in hand in order to achieve a goal. These leaders are typically less concerned with the idea of catering to their employee’s needs and more concerned with finding the step-by-step solution required to meet specific goals. They will often actively define the work, the roles required, put structures in place, make the plan, organise, and monitor progress within the team.
The advantage of task-oriented leaders is that they ensure that deadlines are met and jobs are completed. It’s especially useful for team members who don’t manage their time well. Additionally, these types of leaders tend to exemplify a strong understanding of how to get the job done, focusing on the necessary workplace procedures and delegating work accordingly to ensure that everything gets done in a timely and productive manner.
The disadvantage of task-oriented leaders is that they don’t tend to think much about their team’s needs or well-being. A leader’s behavioural preference that only focuses on task-oriented behaviour, may make the staff think or feel as if they are being micromanaged. This being the case, staff can disengage and become demotivated, which may lead to retention issues.
Relationship Oriented Behaviour (ROB’s)
Relationship-oriented leaders have a preference for supporting, motivating and developing the people in their teams and the relationships within. This style of leadership encourages employee engagement, good teamwork and collaboration by fostering positive relationships and effective communication.
Relationship-oriented leaders place a premium on the welfare of everyone in the group and will allocate time and effort in meeting the individual needs of everyone involved. This may involve:-
- providing coaching and or mediation to deal with workplace conflicts
- having more casual interactions with team members to learn about their strengths and weaknesses
- creating a non-competitive and transparent work environment
- just leading in a personable or encouraging manner
The benefits of relationship-oriented leadership are that team members are in a setting where the leader cares about their well-being. Relationship-oriented leaders understand that building positive productivity requires a positive environment where individuals feel driven. Personal conflicts, dissatisfaction with a job, resentment and even boredom can severely drive down productivity, so these types of leaders put people first to ensure that such problems stay at a minimum. Additionally, team members may be more willing to take risks, because they know that the leader will provide the support if needed.
The disadvantage of relationship-oriented leadership is that, if taken too far, the development of team chemistry may detract from the actual tasks and goals at hand. The term “people-oriented” is used synonymously, whilst in a business setting, this approach may also be referred to as “employee-oriented”.
The Sweet Spot
Finding the sweet spot is finding the balance between TOB’s and ROB’s. Steps in doing this would be determining your preference for task or relationship behaviour. Given your preference, decide on and prepare some scripts that will help you create a connection with your team members.
A simple example, if you are knowledgeable about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator MBTI® could be developing a script for showing appreciation which would take into consideration the thinking/feeling function.
Thinking types (acknowledge their competence/capability, FIRST):-
You did a great job in following the processes and meeting the deadlines of the project. I notice that there was no error rate following the processes. PAUSE… I really appreciate what you’ve done for myself and the team it has generated a deeper understanding of what needed to be done.
Feeling Types (acknowledge their value/contribution, FIRST):
I really appreciate what you’ve done for myself and the team it has generated a deeper understanding of what needed to be done. PAUSE… you did a great job in following the processes and meeting the deadlines of the project. I notice that there was no error rate following the processes.
Looking at your team and determining and what their preferences and needs might be can provide insight into how you might approach them. Be aware that individuals will also have a preference for task or relationship orientated behaviour. Take this into account.
If you master the capacity to modify your style, observe and respond to your staff’s communication preference, you will be well on the way to balancing task and relationship behaviour while achieving the outcomes you need in a fair, engaged and open environment.