2 Motivators That Create The Group Complainer

Enhancing Team PerformanceGroups will be formed or altered significantly in September. This will happen at work, in community organizations and to students navigating group projects.

How well people integrate, or reintegrate, will depend on their personality style.

Underlying motivators

When working in groups we are motivated by our underlying need to satisfy these two elements:

  1. how the tasks are handled and how responsibilities are delegated
  2. how the processes and the relationships of the group are managed

When we get frustrated at the speed or the manner in which things get done, or we are concerned with who is in charge, we are being more task oriented.

When our focus is on cooperation or having equal opportunities to express, decide or participate, we are being more relationship oriented.


When someone worries about satisfying their needs without flexibility around the other person’s experience, conflict occurs. To resolve this, we must speak with and validate concerns for both work styles.

When forming a new group, look for the one who complains the most. Listen to them and let them know that you hear them. Ask them if they are open to discussing the other side of the problem.

Everyone has a strong need to feel heard and validated. Reducing conflicts is as simple repeating the person’s concerns back to them. It doesn’t mean agreeing with them. Its about understanding how important this must feel to them.

Only when someone’s underlying motivator is validated are they even capable of looking at the others side of the coin.

Managing The Task Oriented Complainer

Task oriented people who get frustrated can become bullies in a desire to get things done. They strive for feelings of power.

That complainer who criticizes as to “how this should happen” likes to be in control. They measure what the person is doing for the team rather than worry about people’s opinions or feelings.

Although these people can be difficult to work with, being aware of their underlying motivator can help redirect their energy.

Remind them that they will get what they want much faster, more effectively and more fully if people are on board with their ideas. They will also get noticed by higher ups if they get the work done in a collegial manner.

After all, outcomes, being right and being noticed is in their DNA. So point it out.

Managing The Relationship Oriented Complainer

These people value feelings above profit and outcomes. They are happiest when there is a group consensus. They strive for feelings of closeness.

It is ironic that their need to have everyone get along can create problems. They can get caught up in perceived unfairness of how responsibilities are being delegated and don’t enjoy the sense of someone being treated differently than others.

Many relationship oriented people are more worried about being liked than getting the job done. Taking the time to listen and validate their feelings is the only way to calm their fears of injustice.

We can remind them that task oriented people cannot make the leap to playing nice with others until the tasks are under control. This can help our relationship people to see the value of focussing on the more boring chores and improve the quality of the work done which will impact the relationships. They will like that.

Here is the lesson.

Making one style aware of the other style gives everyone the tools to make better choices for improving group work.

Emotional intelligence is not easy for everyone. Many were never taught the basics of connecting in group relationships while balancing tasks.When new groups are being formed, being able to draw from both sides of these underlying motivators increase both the chances of optimum results while feeling good along the way.

Have you worked with anyone on one end of the spectrum that drove you nuts?

Knowing our primary styles makes all the difference in creating bridges between our differences.


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