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How Do You Define Office Team Building Roles & Responsibilities?

Team Roles and ResponsibilitesTeam Roles and Responsibilities must be defined to eliminate finger pointing

The most effective teams, the ones that are high-functioning and productive, all have this one thing in common. Every member of the team knows what's expected of him or her. The team roles and responsibilities are predetermined, well-understood, shared and upheld.

How Do You Define Office Team Building Roles & Responsibilities?

When team roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, you'll significantly reduce:

  • Finger pointing
  • "It's not my job"
  • Duplicated work
  • Dropping the ball
  • Conflict
  • Last-minute scrambling

Clarity is the key.

Explicitly defining team roles and responsibilities for every member of the team is one of the essential ingredients of team effectiveness. In our 6-part series, we've defined team effectiveness and are mid-way through our examination of each element that influences whether or not a group of people can truly reach their own and their shared goals. Click here to read about the other essentials.

Related: Team decisions infographic

There are numerous models available to teams. Most are simple to use and, if followed, will boost team effectiveness. This template and example, known as RACI, is available if you need a starting point.

With or without a model, the aim is to very clearly define team roles and responsibilities so no one is uncertain about who does what work, who collaborates with whom, who contributes to each deliverable and how, and who needs to advised or to give approval along the way.

Without clarity about team roles and responsibilities, team effectiveness is inherently compromised.

We've all done time on teams like these.

The Wait-and-See Who Caves Team

No one is doing the work... And, then, with the deadline fast approaching. one team member dives in and does the lion's share. (You know that person... Or maybe you are that person... the one who always carries the load, unable to go down with the team despite the resentment that accompanies doing so much of the work.)

The Nothing-but-Meetings Team

This group excels at admiring the problem. They talk about it endlessly, thoroughly, repeatedly every time they meet. But no one takes action because the team is not clear about who can or should or will do what. So they keep meeting, discussing, brainstorming and complaining. All to no avail.

The All-or-None Team

This team works on its assignments together. The problem is getting everyone together. Other work priorities override team time, with frequent cancellations and rescheduling. Without clarity about team roles and responsibilities, the group assumes it's all of us or none of us who will do the work.

To get clarity, start with these 5 simple steps:

  1. Determine the desired outcome. What is the team supposed to deliver? If you don't know, find out.
  2. Map out the action steps needed. Work backwards from the desired outcome and set the interim deadlines for each step.
  3. Decide who will manage the work in each step. This is the person who will coordinate others' efforts, access resources needed, and oversee the work being done.
  4. Enlist the people needed (including specialists) to complete the work in each step and to approve the work in each step.
  5. Provide clear expectations about how the work is to be done, what the deadlines are, and how to handle any bottlenecks or barriers.

And don't forget the most important step of all for establishing team roles and responsibilities:

During the planning, be sure every member of the team had an opportunity to contribute. It's a team. Giving voice to each member of the team is the best shot you have at getting commitment and clarity of purpose.

We'll pick up on that subject -- identifying and committing to group purpose -- in our next CONNECT2Win post as we continue the series on the elements that impact team effectiveness.

Next Steps:

  1. Check out the other posts in this series about what it takes to be an effective team.
  2. Visit our website to learn about support services for teams.
  3. Download this free infographic about how to make decisions as a team.

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Team Effectiveness The blog for everyone who works with anyone.

Deb Calvert is President of People First Productivity Solutions, the company that helps you build organizational strength by putting people first. Book Deb today to speak at your leadership or team events, to conduct MBTI workshops to improve team effectiveness, or to work with you as your Executive Coach.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published March 2016 and has been updated.

Topics: team effectiveness, CONNECT2WIN Blog


Deb's new book is a behavioral blueprint for success. It shows that tactics of highly effective sellers are also those of highly effective leaders -- and team players.

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