The GRPI Model of Team Effectiveness: Explained

Written by Suzanne Lucas
6 minutes read

Effective teams allow businesses to perform well. Everyone instinctively knows this but can’t generally articulate what makes a good team and what makes a bad team. GRPI is a popular team effectiveness model that can help teams function better, and you can easily explain it to team managers and members. Let’s look into it in more detail.

What is the GRPI model of team effectiveness?
Elements of the GRPI model

What is the GRPI model of team effectiveness?

The GRPI model is a straightforward and comprehensive framework that describes the key factors that teams need to function in an effective way. GRPI is an acronym that stands for:

  • Goals
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Processes and Procedures
  • Interactions / Interpersonal Relationships.

Organizational theorist Richard Beckhard first introduced the GRPI model back in 1972, but it still functions as an effective tool to plan teamwork and diagnose problems within a team. Human Resources departments can train managers to use this model to help with projects and resolve issues within a group.

Of course, this method has certain limitations, and its focus on strict procedures and rolls doesn’t work well in a startup environment where everyone wears multiple hats. But, even so, taking a look at this model can help identify problems and guide your team towards effective decision-making processes.

Elements of the GRPI model

Let’s break down the GRPI model and how it works within teams, both for planning and diagnostic use. The GRPI model helps in team development and individual development, and to close performance gaps. When people have clear ideas about what they need to do and how to do it, they can perform at high levels. It helps clear up confusion and overlap.

Here is how each step of the model plays out:


Do you know what you’re aiming for? Does your whole team what the common goal is? Do all of you think you’re working toward the same thing?

The answer to all those questions should be yes, but often people do not understand what’s going on, or they only know their portion and not how it fits into the big picture. Creating a team goal can be easy (“We want to increase revenue!”), but having everyone understand that goal and how it fits into the company’s goals can be different.

When your team struggles, ask them questions about the goal, such as:

  • What is our team’s top goal? (This is important because, of course, there will be other, smaller goals.)
  • How will we know when we have reached the defined goal? (Remember, goals need to be measurable, and you must define success. If your goal is simply to “increase revenue” and you earn $0.01 more than last year, you are technically successful, but it doesn’t feel like it. This is why setting SMART goals is helpful.)
  • If the person’s definition of the goal is different from yours, you should start working to align everyone.


Assigning roles at the start is essential, but if you find your team struggling, double-checking with people on how they see their roles and clarifying who does what can fix many team problems.

This can be extra critical if you add new people to a team, or there are better roles that different people are vying for. Bringing clarity helps people to know their boundaries.

Imagine you arrive 30 minutes early for a seminar. You know no one, and everyone else seems to be there with their coworkers. They seem to be immersed in intense conversations. Your feelings and how you approach these people will vary significantly based on your role.

If you are an intern and everyone else looks so much more like an adult than you are, you might feel awkward, and look for a table to sit down at, so you can stare at your phone.

If you are leading the seminar, you’ll walk in confidently and perhaps start introducing yourself to people. You assume they will all be happy to meet with you–after all, they came to see and hear you.

If you are the facility manager, you’ll start looking around to ensure there are enough tables and chairs, that the coffee pots are full, and that the speaker has all they need to run the seminar.

You’re the same person–it’s just your role that changed. Having clearly defined roles tells people what they need to do and how they should interact with others.

Of course, everyone should be kind, but the project lead’s opinion will carry more weight than the junior analyst’s. And when roles lack clarity, you can end up with multiple people doing one function while everyone overlooks another part. This is one of the leading causes of team dysfunction and team conflict, which a clear definition of roles can prevent.


How will we accomplish this? You know that the goal is to increase revenue by 10 percent, that Jane is the team lead, and that Stuart, Holly, and Grace are analysts, and Katie provides administrative support. But, how will you actually increase your revenue? What is the plan?

If you can’t articulate the plan clearly, you may find that your team members are making it up as they go. Sometimes, well-intentioned people can be at cross purposes if you don’t have a clear process. When struggling, ask what the process is and what needs to happen next. Again, if people don’t know, you’ve got a break in your GRPI method.

Having solid processes and a clear action plan in place enables effective problem-solving and is indispensable to achieving the goals of the team.

Interactions/Interpersonal relations

A bully, a narcissist, and a lazy person walk into a team meeting. What happens?

Not much that will lead to success.

Ask yourself about your team members: Do you respect your boss? Do you respect your coworkers? Do they respect you? Do you like or hate each other?

While it’s not necessary to be close friends with your team members, an effective team requires good working relationships. A bully–even if that bully is the lowest level employee–can destroy a team. It doesn’t matter if you have reasonable, measurable goals, clearly defined roles, and processes that make other departments jealous. If your team members can’t work together and give each other constructive feedback, you won’t succeed.

This can be the most challenging problem to fix. While you can revamp processes and assign new roles in an afternoon, if you have one or more problem employees, it can run a plan into the ground.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be something serious like narcissism to destroy a team. An extrovert who cannot understand why their introverted coworker prefers working from home, or vice versa, can cause problems. What you need is the desire to work together and to develop empathy for one another. It doesn’t require the introvert to become an extrovert or to gain introvert qualities. It does require patience and the ability to compromise.

When looking for problems within your group, interpersonal relations is often a place to start. What can you do to help your team members work together and take advantage of the clear guidelines GRPI lays out?

Fostering open communication within the team helps prevent team dysfunctions.

To sum up

GRPI model is a useful framework for designing new teams as well as helping existing teams operate more effectively. Using this simple framework, you can clearly point out problems with the group and work together to find a solution.

By understanding the model and its elements, HR professionals can guide managers in improving a team’s performance. Give everyone a goal, a role, a process, and be nice. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself with a high-performance team.

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Suzanne Lucas

Suzanne Lucas, aka the Evil HR Lady, is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.

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