Roles and Responsibilities

Help your team work together effectively by clarifying individual responsibilities and finding gaps that need to be filled.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
15 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
60 mins
Connected people icon
People
Up to 5
People working together at the table

Roles and Responsibilities

Help your team work together effectively by clarifying individual responsibilities and finding gaps that need to be filled.

People working together at the table
Pencil
Prep Time
15 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
60 mins
Connected people icon
People
Up to 5

Roles and Responsibilities

Help your team work together effectively by clarifying individual responsibilities and finding gaps that need to be filled.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
15 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
60 mins
Connected people icon
People
Up to 5
People working together at the table

Roles and Responsibilities in action

A Roles and Responsibilities session over Zoom, using a Google Doc to capture input.

A team’s whiteboard after completing step 4 of an in-person Roles and Responsibilities session.

This team met over Zoom and used Confluence to capture and summarize their conversation.

What you'll need

Tools

Remote

Video conferencing with screen sharing

Digital collaboration tool

In-Person

Whiteboard

Markers

Sticky notes

Timer

Instructions for running this Play

1. Prep 15 MIN

Create a shared space, whether online or in a physical space.

If you're running the Play via video conference you can create a table on a Confluence page or in a Google Doc.

Create the following columns:

  • Role
  • Responsibilities (what others think)
  • Responsibilities (what I think)
  • Unassigned

Whether you meet in person or remotely, send a message to the team explaining the Play to ensure that everyone understands what work you will be discussing.

TIP: LARGE GROUPS

Have more than 4 people? Set aside 90 minutes for groups of 6-8.

For groups of 9 or more, break the Play into smaller 1-hour sessions.

TIP: TEAM MISSION

At the start of the Play, review the team's mission to set context for what the overall team is responsible for.

2. Identify roles 5 MIN

Define what roles there are in your team (e.g., team lead, developer, designer, accountant) and have everyone add theirs to the "Role" section of the table you prepared. 

For any roles that have multiple people on the team in the same role, just add the role once. Some team members may play more than one role i.e. a software engineer who is also a project manager. In this case, add each role to the table.

3. Identify your teammates' responsibilities 15 MIN

For each of the other roles identified, write down your understanding of the role’s top responsibilities in the shared digital document or on sticky notes.

If you think of any responsibilities that don't fall clearly within a role, add them to the section for unassigned responsibilities.

TIP: FOCUS

Keep the session focused on roles, not people.

By focusing on the role, the team can identify gaps in what skills are needed to succeed in that role regardless of the people on the team.

4. Identify your responsibilities 5 MIN

Now ask each person to think of the top (usually 3-5) things they’re responsible for in their role.

Write each responsibility on a sticky note or digital note then rank them in order of importance.

5. Discuss role responsibilities 15 MIN

For each role, the person in the role describes their “What I think” notes. This can include describing how the tasks are prioritized in their role. Each person in the room then presents their ideas in the “What others think” column. The group can discuss differences in ideas and prioritization.

The role owner then reviews the differences and either accepts or declines additional responsibilities. If any responsibilities overlap, define a primary owner, as well as contributors or back-up owners.

Move responsibilities that are not accepted or do not have an owner to the unowned section at the bottom of the table.

TIP: APPROVAL

Depending on your organization, in order to act on the outcomes of the Play, the role owner might need to get their leadership’s approval to finalize their role outlined in this Play.

6. Review unowned responsibilities 15 MIN

Review the unowned items as a group. See if they are an element of any of the existing roles. Discuss as a group why they might or might not fit in specific roles. 

If they are not part of a role, this could mean that a new role is needed or that a role needs to be redefined. Make sure to identify an individual who is responsible for finding an owner of these tasks and a date to follow up.

TIP: HOT POTATO

Watch out for the responsibility that no role wants to accept. If you spot this, call this out so the group can discuss.

7. Summarize and identify next steps 5 MIN

As you wrap up, summarize the roles and responsibilities to confirm that the team agrees. 

Identify individual people to own them and then document the specific roles, responsibilities, and deadlines everyone has agreed on. 

TIP: AGREE TO DISAGREE

If the team can’t agree on some of the roles or responsibilities, note them as follow-up items to work through in smaller meetings later.


Follow-up

Share out

Share the final document reflecting the outcome of the exercise with the team to see if there are gaps or opportunities.

Share roles and responsibilities document with key stakeholders and leaders. Make sure to tell the team you’ll be doing this.

TIP: AGREE TO DISAGREE

If the team can’t agree on some of the roles or responsibilities, note them as follow-up items to work through in smaller meetings later.

Variations

Cross-functional teams

If you work on a cross-functional team, encourage each role to add some of their responsibilities before the meeting to set a baseline for the kinds of responsibilities they take on. Cross functional groups may have more unowned items so consider adding extra time to assign owners.

Multiple people with same role

If multiple people share the same role, you can encourage them to talk about their responsibilities before the session. They can then share their definition and validate their ideas during the session.

Backups

Some roles may have backups. For example, when the project manager is out the team lead runs weekly meetings.  This can be added as a responsibility for the back up role.


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Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

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