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Who is doing what?

How many times have you been in a group or a meeting and were confused about why you were there or who was supposed to do what?  Or perhaps you are in a job and there is no formal job description?  Have you found that your team or group is just doing a lot of talking without taking action? 

One of the best ways to make forward progress and work better together is to clearly define and discuss roles and responsibilities.  This is definitely related to the decision-making concepts that we discussed last week.  In order to get to the place where you can discuss those, you need to know where you are going and what you are doing.

Here are 5 steps to take toward clearly defining roles and responsibilities on your team so that you can work together toward achieving your collective goals.

  1. Determine your priority goal/objective(s).  This will help frame the need for roles and responsibilities. If you don’t know where you are going, it won’t matter who is doing what.
  2. Decide what priority strategy(ies) need to be implemented. Once you have determined what you want to do, then you need to think about how you are going to move forward toward your goals and objectives. You can have a long list of ideas, but you need to prioritize if you are going to make forward progress. Keep this simple. Our tendency is to try to do everything and then we do nothing well – a blog for another day…:) What 1-3 things will help your team move forward together right now?
  3. Decide what kinds of roles and responsibilities are needed. Once you have narrowed your strategies and focus, you consider what kinds of things will need to be done to implement the priority strategies. What kinds of skills are needed? Expertise?  Relationships?  If you have selected a policy strategy area, you will need folks who can lobby, people who can collect the background data, those who can organize the data, those who can write about the evidence or educate.  You will need those who can organize meetings and bring people together, others who have influence with key decision makers as well as community members.  There are usually a lot more roles and responsibilities needed than you might realize and if you want to be successful, it is important to really consider this carefully.
  4. Determine who can fulfill each role and responsibility.  You may already have everyone you need on your team based on discussion of roles and responsibilities needed, but you may need to look outside of your group to recruit additional team members to fulfill these roles and responsibilities. You also need to be sure to ask each of your team members if they are willing to take on these roles. Sometimes the best person for a particular role does not have the capacity to take on that role at that time. Also, depending upon what you select, you may need to hire folks or raise funds in order to fulfill the needed roles and responsibilities. One of the best examples relates to organizing and hosting a conference or meeting.  This is a VERY time and resource-intensive endeavor and it may not be feasible with your current team or partnership. You may need to hire a conference planning organization to handle all the logistics and your team can focus on content.
  5. Figure out your plan for moving forward together.  You may decide to break up into smaller teams to focus on specific strategies or maybe even sub-strategies.   You need to consider your timeframe and resources.  You also need to be sure there at least one person whose role is to convene your team together and perhaps another to facilitate/lead and keep up with who is doing what and when it is being done.  If you don’t have people assigned to do this, you will not move forward. Again, you will have lots of talking, but without a convener and facilitator/leader, you will have a very difficult time collectively implementing your strategies and accomplishing your goals and objectives.

So what about you?  Have you experienced that defining roles and responsibilities have helped your team work better together?  Or maybe have you experienced challenges or frustrations when you didn’t have clearly defined roles and responsibilities?  

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Photo by Csaba Balazs on Unsplash

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