Roles and Responsibilities
Understand each member's contribution to the team, and learn what everyone needs in order to be successful.
USE THIS PLAY TO...
Define the roles and responsibilities that will make your team successful
Clarify expectations you have of each other so the whole team can shine
All team members
Running the play
Defining roles and responsibilities helps move your team from "storming" to "norming", or help "performing" teams who've lost their way get back on track.
Whiteboard or butcher's paper
Book the room for 10 minutes beforehand. Ensure all your materials are laid out and ready to use. Draw a large table on a whiteboard with the following columns:
- Responsibilities (what I think)
- Responsibilities (what others think)
Add a section at the bottom to capture responsibilities that are unassigned.
If you're running the play via video conference, create a table on a Confluence page or set up a Trello board.
Identify roles (5 min)
Define what roles there are in the team (e.g., team lead, developer, designer, accountant) and write them in the "Roles" section of the table you prepared. Keep these fairly coarse-grained – if you have a front-end developer and a back-end developer on the team, just write "developer" in the table. (You can always get more granular later in the session if needed.)
If possible, have people who share the same role sit next to each other.
Clarify your own responsibilities (10 min)
Think about the top 3 - 5 things your role is responsible for. Write each responsibility on a sticky note, then rank them in priority order.
Dive into teammates' responsibilities (5 min)
For each of the other roles identified, write down 1 - 2 responsibilities you believe are their priorities.
As you are brainstorming, you may think of responsibilities that don't have a clear owner. Write those down too and surface them when the group discusses in step 5.
[optional] Refine and consolidate (5 min)
(Do this step only if you have 3 or more people who share the same role.)
To same time in the next step, talk to teammates with roles similar to yours and refine the list of responsibilities. E.g., if there are five developers in the room, they should create a unified list of developer responsibilities.
Discuss each role (25 min)
For each role, have the role owner(s) describe what they believe their role is and place their sticky notes in the "what I think" column in priority order. Then go around the room to find out what others think the role is all about, and have them place their sticky notes in the "what others think" column.
Next, the role owner either "accepts" or "politely declines" the responsibilities identified by others. If they decline, they should suggest which role ought to own it.
You'll likely uncover responsibilities with no established owner. Note those in the "unassigned responsibilities" section below the table. Where responsibilities overlap, be sure to define who is the primary owner (vs. who is a contributor or a back-up).
Here's an example table from one of our development teams.
Summarize and identify next steps (5 min)
Congratulations! You've just done yourselves a great service. Summarize the roles and their responsibilities to make sure everyone is in agreement.
Then, find an owner for documenting it, as well as someone to figure out how you'll fill any skill gaps you identified.
Not ready yet?
If your company's idea of teamwork is bullsh*t, we've got some ideas that might help.
If there are as many distinct roles on your team as there are team members, don't have every person brainstorm responsibilities for every other role. Instead, have each person identify the responsibilities of the person sitting to their right.
Write up the findings, share with the team (and any other stakeholders).
Want even more Playbook?
Drop your email below to be notified when we add new Health Monitors and plays.
Drop a question or comment on the Atlassian Community site.