Every team member, in addition to straightforward job specific duties, has additional (and critical) responsibilities in the team, related to his or her personal predisposition. Successful manager has to know how to ensure that all these additional team functions are present by building a customized communication and incentives system for each team member (see more on that under Team Building tag). There are many different typologies for these functions, so feel free to use mine :-).
The most prominent functions are: Lead/s –it’s a person who is in charge while you are away (it could be a proper lead or manager if you are a director, but in our context we relate to the name functionally); Subject matter expert/s – a “know how” person for each critical domain of the system; Administrator – having personal computer did not eliminate the need for administration and anyone denying such need will end up doing everything on his own; Communicator/s – always helpful to resolve conflicts, both internal and external; Bully – a person who will be able to push back, protect and defend the team’s domain from bullies in other teams (not advisable to have more than one); Detail-oriented – someone with attention for fine details, usually good with documents and presentations; Innovator – a person who will always on top of the latest news and is ready to communicate them to others.
This list is far from being exhaustive and we will continue to explore this topic in later stages, but for now the goal is to unveil the concept. Some team members perform several functions at once, others are stuck with just one. What’s important is to understand that each one on the team has a responsibility as a team member in addition to his or her basic duties. Whether we want it or not those functions exist and it’s our job as managers to ensure the balance and congruence between them.
Recognition of team responsibilities will boost the performance and the motivation of team members, especially when they know they are being recognized for their abilities. Ignoring these functions will inevitably cause collisions, which would also be unexplainable due to their cause being ignored. Only by properly applying the concept of Responsibility Structure will you be able to see where these conflicts are stemming from and prevent them. This is a very extensive subject, so just to begin with:
• Everyone on the team has to be aware of team functions others perform;
• Clear triggers should be in place as to when to assume someone else’s function;
• It is very productive to encourage team members to be involved and to help each other – signal of being in distress has to be welcomed and answered appropriately, otherwise the harm of not admitting the existing limitations in time could be irreversible. By establishing this rule manager contributes to a sense of common responsibility of the team for delivering the product.
As a manager you need to know to communicate and understand the nature of each team function in order to entrust responsibilities wisely and to apply guidelines to preserve their proper execution. Responsibility structure principles in essence comprise establishing the rules of engagement, building clear communication triggers, and recognition of crucial functions in the team (with alignment to hierarchy). Those principles, appropriately applied as a comprehensive concept, are inalienable to endowing your team with high strength, endurance, agility and spirit I talked about in my previous posts on the subject.