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Team Exercises to Tease out Roles & Responsibilities

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Whether you're managing a team or seeking to increase collaboration in a self-managed team, different activities may help. Get people to loosen up, trust each other more and feel comfortable sharing their ideas. It's just as important to brainstorm about the appropriate roles and responsibilities for team members as it is to debate ideas for projects you will tackle as a team.

Setting the Context

You could be asking yourself why you should even devote work time to teasing out the team's roles and responsibilities. The more you tease out these obligations of individual team members, the more collaboration you should expect, according to Harvard Business Review blogger Tammy Erickson. Without a strong focus on role definition, people will spend more time worrying about the approach their team will take to reach the end goal, which actually discourages creativity.

Creating a Worksheet

Team activities don't necessarily take the form of games or outings that are primarily for the team-building purposes. A simple worksheet will do the job. Prepare a worksheet on which team members can write the major roles each person will play. Include a spot where people can take notes about their particular area of responsibility. For example, a team could choose to create subcommittees or other units with defined roles. These smaller units must set their own meeting schedule and negotiate rules for ensuring work gets done. A team will only succeed if all the members of the entire team and its subgroups complete their assigned work in a timely manner.

Creating a Rotation

Some teams like to divide up responsibilities by rotating roles people will hold at each meeting. For example, every meeting needs a person to run the meeting, a person to record the notes, and members who will participate and contribute ideas. At any one time, it is counterproductive to let one person do all these roles and receive only limited participation from other members of the team. If your team meets every month, consider establishing a rotation for each job, ensuring every team member assumes each role at least once.

Establishing Norms and Giving Rewards

Teams need ground rules in order to make the best use of team meetings and other communications, such as socials and round-robin emails. For example, if you set up a rotating schedule for facilitator and recorder for each meeting, you have only accomplished part of the division-of-labor task. Find a way to hold members accountable for regular attendance and participation. Ensure members will read meeting notes if they miss a meeting and find out what responsibilities they still have for the next meeting. Instead of just having members agree to team rules, reward team members who follow through on their responsibilities, such as a party for successful completion of a major project.


Audra Bianca has been writing professionally since 2007, with her work covering a variety of subjects and appearing on various websites. Her favorite audiences to write for are small-business owners and job searchers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Master of Public Administration from a Florida public university.

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