How to Establish Team Roles and Responsibilities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

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.

Establishing team roles and responsibilities can greatly increase your project's overall productivity and provide every team member with a comprehensive understanding of their individual goals. Whether you're a part of a professional team, a volunteer organisation or you're developing a personal project, ensuring your team understands their purpose in the project can greatly improve their efficiency. Learning about methods to set team roles can help you improve your project's workflow. In this article, we discuss how to establish team roles and responsibilities and why this can be beneficial to your project.

What are team roles and responsibilities?

Team roles and responsibilities refer to the position and the purpose of an individual within a team. Their role in the team could refer to their place within the hierarchy of authority and may correspond with whom they report to and who they supervise. A team member's responsibilities typically refer to what portion of the project you expect them to accomplish. If their responsibilities involve finishing a task or communicating with their supervisor, you typically want to hold them accountable for completing this task so you can be sure they fulfil their responsibility.

Generally, if you set clear, objective goals for team members, they're able to accomplish those goals. This is because team members can clearly determine the necessary steps to take to achieve the set goals, which allows them to work towards them more efficiently. Clearly defined roles can also help your team act cohesively, ensuring that what they're accomplishing complements their teammates' accomplishments.

Related: 7 Team Leader Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Benefits of team roles and responsibilities

Besides clarifying their purpose and their position within the team, creating roles and responsibilities can benefit a team and its output in a variety of ways. The following are potential ways that establishing roles and responsibilities can benefit a team:

Increasing team productivity

If team members have a clear understanding of what you want them to accomplish, they're typically more likely to meet your expectations. One potential reason for this is that if your team isn't aware of who's accomplishing a certain task, they may just assume that someone is already performing that task and not do it themselves. Another possible reason that your team may be more productive is that team members can have a greater understanding of the value of their contribution, so they're motivated to contribute.

For example, if you're leading a team in designing the T-shirts your organisation sells, you could ensure every team member is contributing something important to the process. One team member is in charge of ordering the raw materials, another team member is drawing potential shirt designs and another team member is in charge of shipping the shirts once they're done. You could clarify to each team member that if they participate in this process, the final product can excel in quality. Reinforcing each member's importance to the project can provide your team with a sense of pride and an increased motivation to perform their tasks well.

Producing a sense of success

By clarifying your team's goals and the ways they contribute to the project, a team can feel a sense of satisfaction if they meet those goals. They may feel that the hard work they contributed to the project was ultimately purposeful and valuable. When your team has a concrete understanding of what success looks like, their desire to achieve optimal success may motivate them to perform even more efficiently for their next project.

For example, if your team is constructing a house, you could explain to them how the building may look when completed. The incentive of seeing the finished product might accelerate the project's progress. By cultivating their sense of pride in their work, you could inspire them to contribute more to the project.

Related: 7 Common Teamwork Interview Questions and Sample Answers

How to establish roles and responsibilities for a team

As you're planning to outline the roles and responsibilities for your team you may wonder what to prioritise or what may be the best motivator for them. Understanding effective methods of team structure and delegating responsibility may help your team produce a higher-quality product in a shorter amount of time. The following are steps you could take to create effective roles and responsibilities for a team:

1. Divide the project's ultimate goal into tasks

To begin accomplishing your project's goals, you can first divide the project into relevant categories. This can simultaneously help you delegate aspects of the project to the team members with certain specialist skills and also create an actionable list of tasks so the team can begin pursuing the project's completion. You could also consider further dividing these subcategories into common tasks that your team members perform daily and more complex tasks that may require more individualised attention. You could either order these tasks by difficulty or let your teammates determine this for themselves.

If there's a time constraint, you could consider designating the most urgent tasks to your teammates first while emphasising the need for punctuality. Finally, you could reflect on previous projects your team completed and ask yourself what you believe your team accomplished optimally and what you believe they could improve on. By learning from your experiences, you could avoid repeating mistakes.

Related: Important Roles and Responsibilities of a Team Leader

2. Consider your team's strengths and weaknesses

Depending on your familiarity with your team's workflow, you could designate certain tasks to team members who may perform them most effectively. This could help your teammates focus on their strengths and perform their tasks optimally. First, you can determine which teammate has the correct skill set for each category of responsibility and pair them accordingly. For example, a team member with a background in graphic design could more effectively perform the role of an illustrator than the role of an accountant.

Then, you could consider which tasks certain team members may prefer and designate tasks accordingly. This could help bolster your team member's morale by assigning them responsibilities that they may enjoy and perform well. For example, if you're volunteering as a wildlife rehabilitator and one of your team members likes to work with snakes, you could designate the task of handling the snakes to this individual. Additionally, any team members who wish to avoid certain responsibilities may appreciate that you made the conscious effort to not give them work they've expressed they don't want.

3. Refer to a team member's role to determine responsibilities

As the project continues and you delegate more responsibility to your team members, consider the role you provided them when you first hired them. Each team member might have joined the project with the understanding that their responsibilities would remain relevant to their role. Their role's responsibilities may be useful to remember so that your team members receive work for which they are suitable. This can also help each team member see the project as professional and coherent. If you want your team members to believe in the project's roles and responsibilities, you can prove that you have faith in them as well.

Related: Team Management Skills: Examples and Improvement Strategies

4. Ask for feedback from your team

At the conclusion of the project, consider requesting feedback from your teammates and possibly asking for feedback on your own performance. This can help you improve the efficiency of your team-leading efforts for your next project. This can also allow your team members to voice their opinions on the project, which can show that you're interested in their insight. Involving team members in the feedback process may help to create a sense of involvement and further emphasise their responsibility in participating, which could motivate them to participate more in the future.

For example, you and your team have just completed a long and complicated project. The team met your deadline and you met your expectations of quality for the final product. You can then create an anonymous survey to determine how the team members felt about the project, its challenges, their tasks and your leadership style. You can use the team's responses on this survey to inform the way you conduct team projects in the future. Gathering feedback can help you continually improve your collaborative skills and produce high-quality work in the future.

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