The Art of Team Alignment or Assigning Roles and Responsibilities

September 25, 2018

Assigning Roles and Responsibilities in a Project

Every good leader will tell you that being able to generate agreement among a team is one of the fundamental elements of success. And, mind you, this art most definitely goes beyond just creating consensus or agreement among the people in your team. It is way more complex than that.

Everybody knows that a perfectly organized performance of all team members goes a long way in taking a company closer to its strategic vision. So, let’s talk about getting there, shall we?

What is the first thing that needs to be done when a new project comes about? Setting up a team, for sure.

Members are selected for the team based on their particular skills, which are required to develop and execute various project tasks. Those skills are a primary consideration when it comes to creating a strong team. The strength of each team member is the starting point from which the leaders begin the mythical journey of assigning project roles and responsibilities.

Team Productivity

The good thing about appointing responsibilities to team members is that each person is given the sense of ownership. This makes them feel as if they are an integral part of the project.  For that reason, team members will be more likely to invest themselves in the project, and will be constantly increasing efforts to create and deliver a quality product.

If this step is skipped or done poorly, members will become detached but territorial over certain parts of the project that isn’t necessarily in their zone of interest or skills.

Let’s put it this way. Productivity is enhanced when the assigned responsibilities are closely aligned with the team members’ skills and experience. Simple as that.

Assigning Roles and Responsibilities

Team Collaboration

Having a clear understanding of project roles and responsibilities allows leaders to develop a timeline. So, to avoid having managers frustrated with their teams’ effectiveness – the binding elements between the success and organizing teams and tasks are internal communication and effective collaboration.

Collaboration, simply put, is when two or more individuals work together towards achieving a common goal. That is usually done by sharing ideas, skills, and experience. These days, using cloud-based programs to communicate and collaborate is commonplace. Essential even. Automating some parts of the process can do wonders for the team’s productivity.

Effective team cooperation is not possible without setting up team infrastructure. And this is based on understanding team members’ strength and potential, defining roles and responsibilities, and most importantly – assigning them accordingly.

Team Challenges

Team leaders may effectively delegate tasks, but still encounter many challenges. Most of those are related to either an interpersonal sphere, or even finances. Between personality clashes and working with a limited budget, a project manager can only hope to reduce those challenges. By wise distribution of work and responsibilities, the risk of falling into that dark pit of who-was-supposed-to-do-this-not-me-me-neither is getting significantly smaller.

That risk can also be reduced by having regular meetings, doing individual check-ups, and consistently reporting on project progress to the higher-ups.

RACI Matrix

RACI matrix (linear responsibility chart), also known as a responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), can in many ways make everything we talked about here (communication, productivity, collaboration) much easier.

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. Behind this brief and general acronym lies a powerful matrix of all the activities or decision-making authorities undertaken in an organization set against all the people or roles. And that is the simplest and most effective way of defining and documenting project roles and responsibilities.

This linear responsibility chart answers the following questions:

Responsible are the people who do the work. They are the ones who implement strategic tasks, and are ultimately responsible for the execution of work and activity.

Accountable is the person who is the “owner” of the work. A lot of signing work is done by him or her: signing off the task, delegating responsibilities, or approving once it’s completed. An accountable must approve the work that the Responsible provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task.

Consulted are active participants who should be consulted before the work can be done. They are typically subject matter experts whose feedback will determine how the Accountable will proceed with the strategy. There is a two-way communication between them.

Informed are those who are kept up-to-date on the project progress. There is just one-way communication here.

Once you get this division’s way of working, it will be so much easier to concentrate on other details. And to boost the communication and collaboration, here are some random tips.

Brainstorming

Brainstorm your socks off as it is an ideal opportunity for a team to come together and work on a common goal through the channels of thinking, sharing, and discussing ideas and everything else, so typical of brainstorming. This kind of a get-together is invaluable as it provides different perspectives.

Define and keep defining a common goal

Every team sees the value in working together for a common goal. This goal, once defined and always reconsidered, over and over again – gives them a meaningful reason to collaborate, share and support each other.

Equal partaking

A true team leader will provide every team member with equal opportunities to participate and communicate their ideas. There’s no need for “teacher’s pets”.

Identify all tasks

And we mean all of them. No matter how small or insignificant they appear to be. Make sure every task has only one Accountable assigned to it.

Share, discuss and agree on the RACI model with your stakeholders at the start of the project!

As for the praxis of RACI, with all the ego trips and vanities that will inevitably come your way, we can only say: Good luck!

 

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