Roles and Responsibilities

This is the first “R” in our ARROW equation on team alignment.  And this is where alignment starts.

Clarity on roles and responsibilities is critical. Without clarity in this area, team members may waste time and energy on duplicated efforts and leave other areas of the project untended.

The team members on an aligned team understand how everyone fits into the whole of the team. An aligned team has clear job descriptions, and clear responsibilities for everyone involved. Everyone is productively contributing to a successful outcome.

How do we create clear roles and responsibilities? Here are a few things to think about:

  1. Clarity truly starts with a simple mapping of the tasks and skills needed to reach the project goal, and then making sure all the necessary tasks and skills are covered by various members of the team.
  2. Clarity requires that there is not too much overlap among team members. Everyone needs to understand what their part of the sandbox is, and where everyone’s else part is as well.
  3. Finally, clarity also requires that everyone on the team have enough to do. When you have underutilized team members, their natural capacity and ambition to do more will cause them to seek more responsibilities, more tasks, and a typically performance-oriented person (the type we all want on our teams) will drift into other parts of the sandbox.

The hardest part of role clarity is in the details, in the gray areas between the responsibilities of team members. In most cases, the macro aspects of a job description are easy enough to describe and understand. But where does one person’s job description end and the next person’s begin? We may not solve all the gray area questions right at the outset of our team-building effort, and that’s OK. But the gray areas in between people’s roles is an issue we’ll need to be conscious of throughout the process, and we’ll need to prepare to look at the gray areas as we tend to the ongoing positive dynamic of our team.

Clarity on roles and responsibilities does not have to be difficult to create. But it has to happen for alignment to occur.

Have a great day.

Photo: Gilkata


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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.