Defining Team's Roles and Responsibilities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 7, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Defining team members' roles and responsibilities help them understand what management expects from everyone when working together. Specific responsibilities depend on the position each team member assumes. By clearly defining job descriptions, there is no duplication, confusion, frustration or disappointment. Instead, the team achieves increased productivity.

In this article, we explain what roles and responsibilities are, the advantages and how to define them and provide some examples of common responsibilities.

What are roles and responsibilities?

Responsibilities refer to the tasks an employee must do as part of their job, whereas roles refer to the functions a team member assumes. You can achieve exceptional results by providing clarity by defining every team member's duties.

Advantages of defining roles and responsibilities

Setting clear job descriptions and roles makes it easy for staff to understand what the company expects of them. Employees know exactly what they need to do and how they contribute to reaching the organization's goals. Below are the benefits of defining roles and job descriptions:

Creating a collaboration framework

When an organization distributes tasks and defines every employee's role, there are fewer conflicts in the office. Team players handle different functions according to their positions but work together to ensure they meet their goals. It also fosters a work environment with respect when all team players can concentrate on their own duties. Collaboration encourages employees to be positive, creative and innovative.

Related: How to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace (With Tips)

Evaluating performance

It's easier to identify which roles and responsibilities need to improve if a company isn't reaching its goals. For example, when communication fails, it holds the person in charge of communication responsible. But it's hard to pinpoint the area that needs improvement when everyone takes part in communication outside the requirements of their role. Evaluating performance achieves accountability because everyone consistently receives constructive feedback to help them grow and advance their careers.

Related: How Employee Performance Is Measured and Why It's Important

Saving resources

Defining roles ensures every employee understands their job description. They can develop strategies to work with other team members to meet departmental and company goals. With clear job descriptions, an organization can save a lot of resources. For instance, an organization can save money by paying wages to fewer employees that are focused on their specific tasks. When employees take on unclear responsibilities, they need to spend more time on them.

Increased morale

It motivates employees to do their best when they understand their roles and duties in an organization. For example, imagine an employee is tasked with repairing a machine. If it's one of their clearly defined duties, they'll work hard to finish it within the shortest time possible and at the highest standard. Employees work well together when their assigned tasks contribute toward a common goal. An organized team with defined roles has a motivated, cooperative and productive team.

Related: What Is Team Morale? (Definition and Tips on Boosting It)

Identifying employees' training needs

Technology advances so quickly that businesses must make sure that they keep their employees up to date. Refresher courses help employees align with the industry changes experienced in every sector. When an organization understands its employees' roles and performance, the company can identify the training the employees require. However, when an employee's responsibilities are unclear, it's challenging to know who needs more training and in what areas.

Promoting employees becomes easy

Defined roles help to identify successful and underperforming employees. Tracking performance is one way to measure whether employees are meeting the expectations of their roles. An organization can track employees' growth and determination. If an employee's responsibilities are clear, it's easier for senior management to identify their success and reward them with a promotion.

Hiring the right people

A company that has defined its employees' roles understands which departments require more human resources. The organization knows exactly which responsibilities to share or cover by hiring a new employee and making work easier for existing team members. During the hiring process, the organization understands exactly which qualifications and expertise to look for. They can outline those requirements clearly in the job description and attract the right candidates.

Related: Employee Selection Methods: How to Select the Right Employee

How to define job descriptions and roles clearly

Successful employees understand their responsibilities, objectives and what their employer expects from them. They also understand the level of authority they need to make specific decisions. For employees to understand their duties, defining their roles is critical. Here is a guide on how to define roles:

1. Consider what is available and what your company requires

For an organization to define job descriptions and roles, it has to consider what it has and what else the organization needs. An audit can be an excellent way of determining what is needed and what is available. A simple way to conduct an audit is by making a list of existing employees and a list of the company's tasks.

Using a rough organizational chart, analyze how various departments in the organization are connected. Go through the analysis and consider what else the company can do and which functions need improvement and identify the departments where the missing parts fit. This process identifies possible positions that you don't currently have.

2. Identify expectations from each job position

Employees and an organization's management must understand the description of each position. When identifying expectations and describing various functions, include the following components:

  • Position description: identifies the functions, responsibilities and tasks of employees of a specific role.

  • Functions and tasks: highlights the activities that employees in the position will handle, and why.

  • Roles: identifies capabilities, skills and the results you expect from an employee with those responsibilities.

  • Educational and experience requirements: identify the professional background you require from the employee.

  • Performance management: identifies how your company evaluates the performance of employees in that position. It's outlined by targets, and the metrics used to measure whether expectations are being met.

3. Prepare a chart

After defining your employees' strengths and weaknesses, you can find the most suitable position for every team member. Next, create a chart that describes the relationship between employees, teams and departments. These are known as organizational charts. When the employees review the chart, they understand their roles, with whom they work and to whom they report.

Related: How to Make an Organizational Chart for a Small Business

4. Get feedback

Ask employees what they think of the job descriptions. Involving your employees in your company's reorganization makes them feel included, valuable and part of the process. Employees and other stakeholders should agree to the plan defined in the organizational chart. In case of any objections, consider possible alterations you can make.

Related: How To Give Feedback Constructively in the Workplace

Types of team roles and responsibilities

Effective organizations require team members with unique personality types to perform various tasks. When you divide your company into teams, everyone has their own role to play and duties to perform. Here are some common types of team roles:

Action-oriented sharper role

Dynamic team members who relish challenges perform sharper roles. Sharper team players maintain positive mental attitudes when they face challenges and strive to overcome challenges. These team members are often extroverted, possess excellent communication skills and motivate their colleagues.

Action-oriented implementer role

Implementer team members ensure the completion of every task. These team members are well-organized and practical. Implementers are contemplative and turn ideas into realistic plans.

Action-oriented completer role

Team completers, or finishers, have excellent attention to detail. Completers are seen as perfectionists because they detect errors and ensure that the team meets deadlines. These team members are conscious of their surroundings and are neat. Completers strive to fix the smallest of problems and typically prefer to work alone to ensure the quality of the work they produce.

People-oriented coordinator role

Coordinator team members are confident and have great listening skills. Team coordinators guide teams through various activities. A coordinator is excellent at duty delegation and keeps the team's end goal in focus.

People-oriented team worker's role

Team workers ensure they unite their teams. These team members solve conflicts and issues affecting colleagues and the team dynamic. A team worker is supportive but remains neutral during team decision-making to avoid taking sides. Team workers put team unity above all else.

People-oriented resource investigator role

A resource investigator possesses excellent negotiation and networking skills. Investigators are also inquisitive, enthusiastic and extroverted, making them good at interacting with others. Investigators are good at acquiring information from colleagues and other people.

Thought-oriented monitor-evaluator role

Monitor-evaluators are critical thinkers, cautious, contemplative and serious. Before making a decision, they take their time to analyze information critically. These team members spend a lot of time finding solutions.

Thought-oriented specialist role

These employees are experts on their team. Team specialists focus on their areas of expertise, and their priority is to maintain professional standards. Team specialists are valuable members of teams for their in-depth subject knowledge.

Thought-oriented plants role

Plants are innovative. These team members create original ideas and strategies that help teams solve problems and overcome challenges. They make significant contributions to team initiatives, but are typically introverted and prefer to work alone.

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