Teams: Defining roles and responsibilities

How many hats do you wear? Team Leadership; Roles and Responsibilities

In my first post on cross-functional teams, 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Functional Team Management, I outlined the 5 keys needed for successful cross-functional team management: Goals, Roles, Responsibilities, Accountability, and Reward. My second post addressed the first of those keys: Cross-functional Team Leadership in Startups and SME’s: The First 5 Keys – Goal Setting for Success.
In this post I will address the second and third keys in this series: Roles and Responsibilities — how to define, track and measure them.
When it comes right down to it, the first two roles (hats) any team member wears besides their functional area hat are Team Member and Deliverable Owner.

Team Member because unless you understand that the first thing you do for the team is show up as a contributing member of the team, you are not on a team. Owner because unless you own your participation with personal responsibility and deliver on those responsibilities, you can’t come to the team table.

So, what does that say about titles like Executive Sponsor, Engineer, Sales, Business Dev., QA, Compliance? It says that you know what your job is and how your skills contribute to the success of the Product/Project/Team you are on.

That being said, you have to know your functional responsibilities, and these must be focused and actionable. By focused, I mean you are clear on what tasks you have to accomplish. By actionable, I mean they are specific and measurable, which includes status, inter-dependencies, schedule, issues and potential risks.

The following Hat Template can be used help you define each team member’s participation and can be tracked to plan. Click on the form to download/save a spreadsheet version. Feel free to copy, edit, and distribute it.

Hat/Role: Designates your particular role, be it employee, engineer, contributor, reviewer, manager, marketing, etc.
Deliverable: Denotes your task and/or deliverable – is this tracked in the MRD/PRS?
Current Status: Green, Yellow, Red, complete – if you don’t know what this means, you shouldn’t be reading this post.
Dependencies: Items that could potentially keep you from completing the task. One of the more important aspects of cross-functional team interaction is managing the gaps and expectations in and amongst team members.
Due/Done: Are you on schedule; is item tracked on a master schedule?
Issues: Anything that could jeopardize completing the task, be it supply chain, equipment, non-performers, or vacation schedules.
Risks: Provides snapshot of project status and gaps.

The most important thing about the above document is that it be completed and maintained by the team member either directly or via the team leader or project manager. This document should be easily accessible to all team members via a team portal, AND, should not be more complicated than what you are trying to accomplish. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Coming next: Accountability – how to manage people when no one is a direct report!

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