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Why it matters

One of Tammy Erickson's key ideas is that roles and responsibilities need to be clear, so that people can demonstrate their strengths. This will enable you to recruit the right people and improve overall team efficiency - since everyone will know exactly what is expected of them. Incidentally, it will reduce the risk of misunderstandings and conflicts, particularly with authority figures. If you add to these ingredients clear processes, you have a recipe for boosting collective performance.

Some ideas for developing this dimension with your team

Things to do

  • Identify the roles you need. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, they should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. So limit their number as much as possible. Remember that small teams are often more effective than large ones.
  • Ask new teams to invest time in determining who will do what. Each person's responsibilities must be clear and well understood before taking action.
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities. Ask teams to make a list of key procedures and tasks, specifying who is responsible for doing the work, and who will ultimately take responsibility. This can be done using a RASCI responsibility matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Supporting, Consulted and Informed).
  • Make a graph to visualize the interactions between your team and the rest of the organization. It's a useful tool for analyzing the links and interdependencies within a group. Track down gaps, identify other useful roles and skills. What are you missing, and in which departments? Gradually add the positions you realize are important, and cross out those that have become obsolete.
  • Encourage your team to create flowcharts for critical business processes. Then apply ad hoc methods to remove bottlenecks, aiming for efficiency and team consolidation. Choose the operational excellence tools best suited to your situation, whether Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen, Hoshin, etc.

What to avoid

  • Let your political agenda dictate the composition of the team. The team would be overwhelmed with roles and functions, and you'd be forced to recruit the wrong people. In any case, your team would lose effectiveness.
  • Being too vague about expectations and responsibilities. Individual roles only make sense if they fit into a RACI matrix that specifies their influence on task completion and performance. For an organization to function effectively, it is highly recommended to use such a matrix in anticipation of each project or cross-functional process.
  • Using the wrong decision-making methods. In principle, wisdom dictates the use of a participative approach involving consultation and voting. However, when the aim is to improve processes, or the activities themselves, decisions must be based on facts, not general opinion. So start by isolating the relevant criteria to weigh up the pros and cons. If it turns out that several options are viable, base your decision on factual data.
  • Not devoting enough time to reflection and process improvement. The overwhelming majority of management teams aspire to a culture of continuous progress. But how many invest in achieving it? They often place less value on retreats and group workshops than on production time. Remember, 80% of a successful project can be explained by the preparatory work, and only 20% by its execution.
  • Neglecting to anticipate and structure transfers. Internal changes are part of the life of any organization. Don't "botch" them. Inappropriate or problematic transfers often result in friction, with a considerable loss of efficiency.

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