Don't lose your points!
Sign up and save them.
2 Tutorials that teach Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities
Take your pick:
Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities

Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities

Author: Kelly Nordstrom

This lesson discusses the importance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

28 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

263 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 25 of Sophia’s online courses. More than 2,000 colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Source: Woman with blond hair, public domain; Woman with brown hair, public domain,; Man with pink tie, public domain,; Woman w/red hair, public domain,; Young man black tshirt, public domain,; woman with short dark hair, public domain,

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Thank you for joining me for this tutorial on clarifying roles and responsibilities. As you can see here, this lesson discusses the importance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Let's get started.

What are our objectives today? What are roles? Why are roles so important? What are the benefits of having team roles? And how are roles defined?

So let's get right into it. A role is defined as a group of highly related work activities and responsibilities generally performed by a single individual. So you can see here, we have our IT project manager. And she has a few different roles.

And this is very common. Every member of a team will play one or more roles, or work functions, or a business function. So for individuals playing multiple roles, like our person here, they may be closely related or be very different.

So in this case, this person's roles are very different. In a smaller organization, it's common to find individuals playing more than one roles, and their roles may change more frequently. As you can see here, her job title is IT project manager. But her roles are different. So her job title is the umbrella for the roles that she plays. And then beneath the roles are the responsibilities within those roles.

We start with her job title, which comprises everything she does. Beneath her job title, she will have possibly several different roles. And within each role, now you'll find each of those responsibilities.

So these roles are formally assigned. This is-- you would probably find these in her job description. But there are other informal roles that may be taken on voluntarily by employees. For example, I've worked in a company where a person planned all the birthdays.

Now let's take a look at a different example. You can see how roles change across different industries. She has very different responsibilities within her roles. And again, the roles bubble up to her job title.

Let's take a look at another example. So let's take a look at this business analyst. Here's an example of having three formal roles very closely related. She's going to build the reports, run the reports, and help analyze the reports.

So let's take a look at the importance of roles. Having a recognized and valued role improves employee confidence and commitment to their work. Clear roles improve efficiency. Everyone knows what they're doing.

When roles are too close, the work may become inefficient due to unclear responsibilities. You can imagine that this would be a really frustrating environment in which to work. So what happens when we have the opposite issue, when there's too much space between two roles?

You can see here, we have our graphic designer and our marketing manager. And the marketing manager is responsible for leading the team creation of a marketing plan. Now, this may involve some deliverables by the graphic designer. What if he doesn't loop her in?

It's very likely that a task is going to be left undone or a goal will be missed, resulting in high frustration on both sides. So it's beneficial to determine all the roles that need to be performed by a team as a whole in order to achieve team goals.

So let's take a look at how to analyze team roles. So here we have our goal. So now we have generated this list of roles. And we're going to compare that to the team capacity, the number of people and their bandwidth that they have.

We want to see if there are any gaps relative to expertise. And look at this. We have those gaps. We need an HTML coder and an art buyer. Those skills are not represented in our current team.

This is also where we can check to see if we need more roles than the team members can reasonably handle. We want to make sure that our team members are not overworked. It's important to check each team member's bandwidth as well to see if we need to add extra roles or fewer roles. Again, every team is comprised of strengths, and we want to make sure they're efficient.

So the benefits of analyzing team roles, we can identify critical skill gaps. The roles are less likely to be assigned to those who do not have the required skill set. We want our team members to be matched with their strengths.

We also want to make sure that individuals are not overwhelmed by too much work. We also want to make sure that our team is efficient. We certainly don't want excess team capacity wasted due to lack of direction.

Once all these roles have been analyzed at the level of the team as a whole, now they can be assigned to the individuals. Of course, we want to match these roles with the best fit in terms of their skill set, but also with the individual interests and their professional development goals. And look at here to our project manager and account manager. These two are highly related, or they're interdependent. Depending on the workload, this can be one person, or it can be two individuals who work well together.

And, of course, we want feedback from our team members. So we're going to consult them relative to the role and responsibility assignment as these decisions are being made. We certainly don't want to approach them after the fact to say, "Guess what? You're going to be our graphic designer."

So how are individual roles and responsibilities defined? Roles in a team are associated with related responsibilities. These may include discrete tasks, ongoing work areas, management, monitoring, and approaches and perspectives. For example, one team member may be an advocate for high-quality user experience.

So let's take a look at how we define individual roles and responsibilities. So here we have our graphic designer. It's important to clearly define these roles by explicitly indicating the responsibilities associated with each role. You can see there's a plethora of responsibilities beneath this job title of graphic designer. The relationship between goals and responsibilities should be very close. Again, a team goal, personal goals, all of these should be in alignment, not to mention, SMART goals, specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-phased.

Responsibilities, just like goals, need to be smart. And the responsibilities of our graphic designer is going to bubble up to the team goals. The team goals drive the nature and the specifics of what is needed from each team member in regards to their responsibilities.

One reason that it's important to have clearly defined roles is to minimize or eliminate overlapping responsibility to avoid that duplication of effort. We can see here that our two people have quite a bit of overlap between the two. When individuals have similar roles or interacting roles, it's important to define the boundaries and limitations between these by clearly indicating responsibilities and avoiding conflict relative to gray areas between the two.

Although discrete roles are beneficial, there are also many benefits to training employees to have expertise in other roles. This is called cross training. You can see here that cross training improves group comprehension and overall connection. They understand each other. And of course, this means increased flexibility. Our team as a whole benefits from that.

And now we have improved ability to cover gaps in case we lose a team member. And it's always beneficial to have increased skill set and decreased boredom. We want to enhance the employees' skill set. So while cross training is beneficial, we still want to make sure that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.

Organizational charts can help with that. These charts generally include the reporting structure for each individual, along with their name and job title. This example here simply has job titles. Some cases, an organizational chart may include goals, roles, and responsibilities.

So you can see here that our account director manages three account managers. The account managers manage junior account executives. And the junior account executives manage the billing analyst.

Another chart often used to indicate responsibilities across the team is the RACI chart. As you can see here, the RACI chart will indicate who is consulted. You can see that the project sponsor is the consultant for the security governance draft. The business analyst is the person responsible for executing functional requirements. The project manager is going to be informed of the functional requirements.

So you can see with the RACI, R is responsible, A is accountable, C is consulted, and I is informed. It is clear to all team members who is accountable for what responsibility and what their contribution to each project will be.

So this concludes today's tutorial. Did we meet our objectives? What are roles? We talked about roles, highly related work activities and responsibilities.

Why are roles important? This is to prevent conflict over territory, prevent redundancy among roles, and to prevent work that may be left undone due to unclear responsibility. What are the benefits of team roles? This is where we can put together skills and strengths.

We talked about the close relationship between the goals and responsibilities. So that concludes today's tutorial. Thank you so much for joining me, and I hope to see you again soon.