Too much ambiguity about team roles and responsibilities in the workplace can cause a lot of confusion and stump productivity. In contrast, knowing exactly what is expected of you, allows for more effective and productive work

In order for your team members to understand what is expected of them, it is crucial that you take some time in defining roles distinctly. This is going to steer you in the direction of team success, team satisfaction, and you’ll see your goals and objectives being met a lot more effectively. 

Because defining team member roles is so important, Fellow has put together all there is to know about clearly setting out roles and specific responsibilities for each team member. Keep scrolling if you want to boost your team’s engagement and productivity!

What are team roles and responsibilities?

Team roles and responsibilities refer to the tasks associated with a person’s job description, and therefore their role within the organization. Because each team member holds several different duties and is responsible for completing a similar theme of tasks each day, it’s really important that responsibilities are clearly defined. 

In fact, the more clearly defined, the less confusion and the more time that can actually be spent working towards organizational goals and objectives

The more that individuals understand what is required of them, the more that they achieve and the more motivated they feel to achieve these goals.

 A team leader or project manager needs to understand each individual’s role at the company so that they can set realistic expectations, set team goals and effectively delegate responsibilities. 

Why take time to clarify team roles?

Taking the time to clarify roles and responsibilities is only going to create a more effective work synergy, hold each team member accountable and eliminate confusion. 

When everyone understands what is expected of them, it promotes more autonomy and allows people to use their time much more effectively, without needing to stop and clarify at every step. 

What’s better is that, if you clearly understand the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team, it provides the opportunity for every other team member to also understand what their co-workers are working on. This way, your team can collaborate and come together to get expert opinions and support from their colleagues. 

Benefits of defining team roles and responsibilities

The most significant benefit of defining team roles and responsibilities is eliminating confusion. This clarifies what is specifically expected of each team member and holds them accountable for their responsibilities

If everyone clearly understands what they should be working towards, their time is going to be utilized much more effectively and in turn, this makes your team more productive. 

The result? Team success. 

Like we said before, it’s important that your team members know what their colleagues are working on so that they can lend a hand or ask for support with their own responsibilities. 

Understanding their own and their colleagues’ responsibilities completely eliminates any opportunity for micro-management, because you have given them all of the information that they need in order to work both independently or collaboratively. 

6 Tips to Define Team Roles and Responsibilities

Now that we’ve taken a look at what team roles and responsibilities are, why it’s valuable to take the time to clarify them, and discussed the benefits, we’re going to give you a few tips to specifically define roles and responsibilities in the workplace. 

  • Understand your team’s strengths
  • Determine what needs to get done
  • Meet to discuss priorities on an ongoing basis
  • Give people ownership over specific areas
  • Ask employees about their long-term goals
  • Align roles and responsibilities with their goals

1 Understand your team’s strengths

First of all, you really need to understand the unique and individual strengths of your team members. Alice Ko, Director of Marketing Communications at Procurify and a contributor to Fellow’s ManagerChats talks about the importance of individualizing your management approach to motivate your employees

“A “one-size-fits-all” system to motivate people doesn’t work b/c people are unique. People have different motivations. Learn them. Managers, please individualize your approach! … Real example on my team: One person is motivated by stretch goals & achieving impossible things. Another person is motivated by collaborating with colleagues they feel safe with. Invest in learning people’s strengths and values and you’ll be gold.”

2 Determine what needs to get done

In order to assign responsibilities to your team members, you’ve got to have a clear idea of what actually needs to get done and prioritize tasks in a way that will most effectively achieve business goals and objectives. In the same panel discussion, Cassy Aite (CEO of Hoppier) highlighted how central the skill of prioritization is:

“I look at my calendar every Sunday and prioritize relentlessly before the week starts. Is it going to get me closer to my goals? Yes? Great, let’s do it! No? Cancel it or don’t do it!”

Think about creating an action log (or shared stream in Fellow) where you can assign specific individuals to specific tasks, with a designated due date. This way, it keeps you and your entire team organized and held accountable, working with clear timelines. 

Streams are digital notepads that you can use on your own or with your team to capture ideas, goals, and whatever else you dream up.

3 Meet and discuss priorities on an ongoing basis

It’s always a good idea to chat about the team’s larger to do-list so that you can collaborate and come to an agreed consensus on what needs to get done first. 

Consider setting aside some time every week to discuss priorities with your group. A weekly team meeting is really effective for planning and reflection. 

Connor Skelly, Marketing Director at Brightfield Group speaks to the importance of staying organized and what happens when priorities aren’t set:

“It led to a lot of burnout, missed deadlines, and good ideas fading into the ether.”

Does this sound like a nightmare to you too? Make sure to be as clear as possible while setting deadlines in a collaborative team setting. 

4 Give people ownership over specific areas

Giving your team members complete ownership over specific tasks is going to show them that you have all the confidence in them to get things done. This is going to motivate and encourage your employees to take initiative and grow in their roles. Jack Appleby, Sr. Creative Strategist at Twitch talks about the benefits of getting your employees to own certain responsibilities: 

“I’m a big believer in making sure everyone feels like they have ownership somewhere. Contributing is good, but let people have an area they can make decisions in. If you set goals early, it allows you to frame honest feedback within those goals – that way what you’re saying is always aligned with getting the team member the best shot at where they want to go.”

5 Ask employees about their long-term goals 

Learn about your employees long-term goals. This is where you can really make a connection between organizational and personal goals of your team members. There’s no better synergy than finding a way to achieve business goals while also supporting individuals to reach their goals. Hiten Shah, Co-Founder & CEO of FYI speaks to the importance of setting goals with your employees: 

“As a manager, my core job is to help identify and resolve any blockers that folks who I work with have. I consider myself a coach to them which enables me to adjust my approach based on each individual person and their responsibilities in the company. A useful approach to helping a direct report with career progression is to assist them in setting short, mid and long-term goals. By explicitly defining these goals, career progression becomes measurable and can be monitored at a regular cadence during 1:1s.”

When you connect business and personal development goals, you show your employees that you care about their interests and are going to support them in achieving their goals.

6 Align roles and responsibilities with their goals

Once you have a good understanding of your team member’s goals, think about how you can assign specific responsibilities to them that will help them achieve these goals. Senior Social Media Manager at Databricks, Syed Ali, speaks to the importance of showing that you care about your team members’ professional development

“People often overlook the soft skills needed to be a manager.  Some of my favourite bosses are the ones that cared about me as a person, but also had a vested interest in my career. My least favourite bosses were the ones where it was “transactional”. 

Closing thoughts

If you’re organized enough to assign specific roles and responsibilities to each of your team members, you’re going to find that as a team, you’ll be more efficient, more productive and more collaborative to hit your goals and objectives. 

Start by understanding your team’s strengths, determine what needs to get done, and meet on a regular basis to discuss the priorities you’ve set. Give employees ownership over specific responsibilities and take the time to really understand your team member’s long-term goals

Once you do, you can align roles and responsibilities with their goals for the ultimate win-win business situation that leaves you and your team members working towards greatness. 
As always, thanks for stopping by the Fellow Blog! It’s always a pleasure. If you found this article helpful, be sure to pass it along to a friend or a colleague. Until next time!