People on work teams don’t have to like each other, and they must be expected to help each other concerning the work being done. What is often seen as ‘personality conflicts’ is really a symptom of poorly defined roles within the work. Define the roles, and the personality issues disappear. Allowing the team and you to get your work done and stop having to play mediator.

team building and leadership expert michael cardus

One Team Development model often used in project management is the G.R.P.I Goals, Roles, Procedures, Interpersonal Relationships Model.

I have written about Goals Extensively.

Let’s explore Roles.

In the absence of Role-Clarification people make their own rules about what they can & can’t do to each other. Teamwork needs individual roles & clear role-relationships with others.

Working on many work-teams, you have felt the frustration that stems from the team’s unclear or non-existent roles. This usually manifests in confusion over authority and accountability and causes friction between team members, people outside the team needed for specific expertise on tasks, and management frustration on completing the work on time.

Questions like: Who is accountable for what? Who can stop who from doing what? Who can take the initiative in advising who? Who can change procedures? Who can demand what information? Who can ask for what services? Who reports on whom-and about what? (Jaques 1989)

What are the steps to Role-Clarification?

To begin, you must have an agreement upon the Goal. Then developing a structure of how the work will get done will lead to some role-clarity.

In Requisite Organization, Elliott Jaques lists 5 areas of accountability and authority to form role-components. While these are not specific roles, only the Team-Leaders and members can define their specific roles and work scope. They are sufficient to begin a discussion and charting of Role-Clarification on a team. The role-components below descend in authority over others. They all operate without the team-members being accountable for the output of the other only the direct manager is accountable for the output of subordinate team members.

  • Instruct: A tells B to do something or stop, delay, and B must do it.
  • Decide Disagreement: If A and B disagree, then A decides the issue, and B must accept A’s decision.
  • Be informed: A is kept reasonably informed about B’s relevant activities about which A might have to initiate action.
  • Attempt to Persuade (Individuals or Groups): A can have access to B (or B’s) to attempt to persuade them to take given actions or note given things, but B (or B’s) do not have to carry out A’s persuasions.
  • Report Higher: A must report higher if dissatisfied with B’s response.

This may seem too prescriptive, and you may be thinking Mike people have to stop the nonsense and do their work!

Systems-Drive-Behaviors and people need and desire to know where the Roles’ boundaries are for others and themselves. In the absence of a clear structure of how the work gets done, negative behaviors, coercion, manipulation, and frustration manifest and kill productivity.

What do you think?

How are roles defined in your work? Have you ever worked on a team that had really great Role-Clarity and everyone knew how the work got done?

Role-Clarification will get the work done on-time, within budget & quality specifications, and keep your team and you happy and productive. Are you ready to have that within your organization and team? Contact Mike today Phone 1-716-629-3678.

image by Hamed Saber