How to Define Your Team’s Roles and Responsibilities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Often, employees are assigned to roles without an understanding of what they are accountable for. Clearly defined roles, responsibilities and tasks can offer alignment and clear expectations for those doing the work. They promote effective communication between team members and help integrate employees, departments and the organisation. When teams have clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, they function efficiently and can become more productive. When roles and responsibilities are understood, workplaces can expect less duplication of efforts, less disappointment, frustration and confusion and enhanced output.

In this article, we discuss how to define your team's roles and responsibilities and best utilize your employees' skill sets for the greater benefit of the team and the company.

What are roles and responsibilities?

A role is someone's position in a group. Responsibilities are the duties and tasks associated with a role. When employees get assigned tasks, they are accountable for these tasks from start to finish. Accountability can promote success, as a group and in an individual role within an organisation.

Knowing how to define your team's roles and responsibilities is a good practice that can help you create a successful team. It can prevent common breakdowns, such as lack of alignment with company objectives and missed deadlines.

How to define your team's roles and responsibilities

A team's mission, skills, experience, expertise and knowledge drive every employee's position on a team. Before creating functional roles and responsibilities, you first need to understand your team's objectives and goals. This is a great way to determine your team's strengths and weaknesses to develop fully functional roles and responsibilities.

Below are a few steps you can take to develop functional roles and responsibilities within a team:

1. Prepare

The first step is to prepare a rough draft of the roles and responsibilities. You can do so by creating columns of roles, responsibilities and other tasks. Roles are based on a specific contribution to the team and organisation to accomplish the objective. If you don't know where to start, here are a few domains that can help you clearly define roles:

  • Knowledge and expertise (what they know).

  • Experience (what they have done before that makes them a useful resource for the team and organisation).

  • Capabilities (what they can do to achieve specific goals).

Responsibilities are the type of engagement the team and organisation needs from the employee in a specific role. It can help to ask yourself what you specifically need this role to provide and achieve for the team. Here are some examples of responsibilities:

  • Offer guidance and advice

  • Contribute to strategy thinking

  • Come up with innovative ideas

  • Perform specific tasks

Preparation can go a long way in clearly defining roles and responsibilities and can help facilitate the team's overall effectiveness.

2. Determine all the tasks that require completion

The next step is to create a detailed list of all the projects and tasks that need completing. This will give you a good overview of requirements (how many tasks exist, what they are, and how many you need to delegate).

Take note of what your team is currently working on and any other pending projects. Were all previous projects completed successfully? If not, what needs improving? Are there tasks that get hand-balled from one department to the next? In recognising all the tasks, they can be assigned to various roles accordingly.

3. Identify strengths and weaknesses

We all come with unique skill sets and a range of varying strengths and weaknesses. Some team members may excel in area A, while others may do their best work in area B. Understanding your team's strengths and weaknesses is an excellent way to assign responsibilities and tasks to roles they align well with.

Noting the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and acting on them appropriately through clearly defined roles and responsibilities can boost efficiency, productivity and staff morale. Of course, employees can and should learn and develop their skill set and strengths while on the job. And this, along with the fact that businesses evolve, highlights why it's a good idea to periodically revisit and redefine roles and responsibilities.

  1. Refer back to a team member's job description

Referring back to a team member's job description can be helpful when defining their responsibilities. The tasks they get assigned should be in line with their role and what they were ultimately hired to do for the organisation. It's also important to take into consideration their interpersonal skills, interests and past successes. Delegation of team assignments can become a lot more streamlined when based on a combination of an employee's job description and their unique traits.

5. Consider workload

Before you assign projects and tasks to an employee, it's essential to consider their workload. For example, one employee might be good at client training, but also excel in reporting. However, if he or she already has many responsibilities within their role of client training, you may have to find someone else suitable to do the reporting.

6. Get feedback

Ensure you always ask your team for feedback. Feedback is essential in providing you with insight into creating clearly defined, functional roles and responsibilities. Asking team members for feedback also shows them that you are interested in their thoughts and opinions. This can contribute to team morale and promote healthy discussions within an organisation.

Example roles and responsibilities of team members

Every team member has a role to play, which should be fulfilled by their experience and individual skill set. Employees will have varying levels of experience and some may be encouraging, optimistic, have innovative ideas and promote positivity while others may be pragmatic.

Roles and responsibilities allow team members to effectively contribute value to the team and organisation's bigger picture. Below are some of the general roles and responsibilities expected of team members:

  • Active participation in team activities

  • Active listening

  • Taking notes

  • Finishing tasks and assignments on time

Example roles and responsibilities of team leaders

A team leader's primary role is to give the rest of the team a sense of direction and support. An influential team leader should have a deep understanding of the team's major goals and what every team member is responsible for.

Here are some of the roles and responsibilities of team leaders:

  • Prepare and organise material for the team

  • Maintain an updated schedule or calendar

  • Schedule and facilitate meetings

  • Facilitate effective and productive discussions

  • Communicate with team members

  • Delegate responsibilities and projects

  • Draft and deliver correspondence

  • Supervise and support team members

Benefits of clearly defined roles and responsibilities

There's more to defined roles and responsibilities than better efficiency. Creating functional roles and responsibilities provides several other benefits for teams and organisations. Understanding these benefits can motivate team leaders to implement them in the future.

Below are some of the benefits of establishing functional roles and responsibilities:

Increased productivity

When teams understand what an organisation or team leader expects of them, they know exactly what they need to do. Clearly outlined duties of every team member's responsibilities can significantly increase a team's overall productivity. In turn, this can result in increased business momentum and long-term success.

Success

The ability to delegate clear tasks and responsibilities to those best suited to them can set you and your team up for achieving goals. Employees who have clearly defined duties and have set schedules and deadlines have everything they need to complete tasks successfully.

Increased morale

When a team member has a clearly defined role and responsibilities, they are more likely to succeed in their part. And as a result, the whole group can benefit. Group success is an excellent way to create momentum for future projects, thus fostering more efficacy and productivity. It can also contribute to heightened confidence amongst team members.

Less wasted time and energy

If there is no clear definition of roles and responsibilities, people spend a lot of time and energy arguing over things that don't matter. They then fail to focus on crucial tasks and responsibilities and can miss out on various opportunities. Defining roles and responsibilities ensures your employees use their time proactively to achieve company goals.

Effects of clearly defined roles and responsibilities

Clearly outlining every team member's roles and responsibilities can allow you, as the supervisor, to know who is responsible for what. It provides team members with the opportunity for accountability. Once team members understand what is required of them, they'll likely require less monitoring of their progress. This can give them a boost in confidence as well as free up valuable time for you to push your organisation's agenda forward.

Clarifying roles and responsibilities is a great way to enhance team motivation and achieve common goals. It also helps build trust and creates a sustainable foundation for increased future performance.

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