Task Structure: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:03 Introduction to Task Structure
  • 0:48 Definition of Task Stucture
  • 1:22 Importance of Task Structure
  • 1:55 Example of Task Structure
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

In this lesson, we will learn how a task can be completed effectively by means of task structure. We will define task structure and look at an example. When the lesson concludes, you can take a quiz to test your knowledge.

Introduction to Task Structure

Let's imagine that you are the manager of a restaurant. Each day, you come to work and outline the plan for the day, determining who will fulfill the roles of hostess, waiter, cook, and so forth. However, today is very different because, instead of simply making sure everyone knows their roles, you have three new employees starting. And these new employees don't know much about the responsibilities or tasks of working in a restaurant.

While you know that it will be a very stressful day training the new employees, you wonder if there is any way to make the day go smoother. How can you outline the tasks for each new employee so that the directions are clear and include important details? This is when you remember a useful little system called task structure.

Definition of Task Structure

So what does the term 'task structure' mean? Well, task structure refers to a system by which tasks are clearly defined and described; one in which larger tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. The use of this step-by-step plan helps fully prepare employees to compete their assigned tasks in a way that uses time and resources more efficiently. Task structure is one of three components of the path-goal leadership theory, which states that the objective of a leader is to provide superior task structure in order to keep employees motivated and efficient.

Importance of Task Structure

At some point, we have all been in a situation where we were not exactly sure what to do. This may have caused confusion and frustration, and it may have even persuaded us to abandon the task at hand. This is where task structure comes in handy. A clear breakdown of the responsibilities and expectations of the role leads to greater understanding, confidence, and motivation, which can negate those negative feelings and responses. Task structure also allows a leader to recognize problems or hurdles in the task and re-design accordingly.

Example of Task Structure

Let's take a minute to look at an example of a task structure and more fully understand its importance. If we use our example from earlier, we know that there are three new restaurant employees starting that will need to be trained. Let's say that all three workers will be waiters for the day. The following is an example of what a task structure might look like for new waiters:

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