How to Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

When it comes to managing your employees, one of the most important things you can do is define roles and responsibilities. That way, everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and can get the training and support they need to succeed at their jobs.

Defining roles and responsibilities helps ensure that everyone isn’t responsible for doing everything. When there’s a crisis, you want your team members to pivot to an “all hands on deck” mindset. But every day should not be a crisis — it’s not efficient and it burns people out.

Defining roles also ensures everyone has an understanding of how their work contributes to the overall success of your organization. If each team member does their job well, the business runs smoothly.

To support team members, you also need to plan in advance to temporarily shift responsibilities when someone is out of the office. If your team members know there is a plan in place, they will feel confident they can meet the challenges that come with an absent team member. In addition, clearly defining roles and responsibilities can help you avoid confusion about responsibilities that can trigger conflicts among team members.

Identify Tasks

One of the first things I do when working with a new consulting client is to ask them to create a business task list. This is a comprehensive list of all activities required to run their business. Everything from top to bottom goes on this list, whether the task is performed in-house or outsourced: marketing, financial, recruiting, client services, scheduling, reception, and customer service.

Assign Roles and Responsibilities

When you’re assigning responsibilities to team members, avoid the temptation to list two people as primary for one task. If everyone owns a task, then no one owns it. 

It’s important that you honor the assigned roles and responsibilities for each of your team members. If you don’t set an example, your team members won’t follow the plan and the result is increased confusion over responsibilities.

If necessary, create new roles or modify existing ones to accommodate new responsibilities.

Create a Cross-Training Plan

In a small office, a cross-training plan is essential to ensure everyone on your team is well-versed in more than one role. Anyone listed with secondary responsibility for an activity should be trained for the role. The person who has primary responsibility is most often the most qualified person to train the secondary person.

Review and Revise Your Plan as Needed

You don’t need to get your roles and responsibilities defined perfectly the first time. As your business grows and changes, so too will the need for a new plan.

Setting up your team for success depends on each individual understanding what they are responsible for and knowing what other team members are responsible for. You’ll avoid overlaps and duplication and even more importantly prevent important tasks from falling through the cracks.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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