3 Crucial Steps to Create Role Clarity Within Your Team
Roles and responsibilities can be hard to keep up with at the team level due to rapid change, evolving businesses, and organizational shifts. Often, leaders assume employees know their roles and responsibilities, but don't factor in team growth, company changes, or personal biases that could cause miscommunication. Role ambiguity is a setback that ultimately leads to unproductivity. These gray areas, for both new and tenured employees, create an overlapping of tasks between team members, directions that are as clear as mud, and communication gaps, ultimately leading to confusion. Team members who are unsure of who owns what may work on the same tasks and projects, or work in different directions because there is no alignment. Role confusion will create friction and conflict and is detrimental to your bottom line.
Inc.com accurately states that the only thing worse than not knowing what someone else is doing is not knowing what you're doing. When roles are unclear, paid employees waste time wondering what to work on and what direction to go in once they choose a task. Let's delve into the importance of Clarity and how you can create it on your team.
Create Clarity at the team level
Team members should not have to maneuver through their day-to-day tasks with confusion or ambiguity because responsibilities are a secret. Birkman defines Clarity as the alignment between people and tasks to achieve team goals. Role clarity allows your high-performing team to be effective and march in the same direction. And, it's up to the leader to ensure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.
Step 1: Clearly define employee roles
What areas does my role focus on that other roles do not? What is the purpose of my position?
These questions that team members may be asking themselves are valid when their leader doesn't define their role or communicate expectations. Leaders can clearly define employee roles during the enrollment process of a new employee by creating a list of functions and responsibilities. Although a new employee receives a job description, this could differ from the actual job role. During the onboarding process, provide new employees with an in-depth description of the details of their new position. For tenured employees who lack Clarity, evaluate that function's responsibilities, and efficiently clarify your goals for their role. Communicating prioritization for employees, so they know what responsibilities and aspects of their job are most important, is also critical to their success.
Clearly define what success looks like in each employee's role and your expectations for each team member. According to Gallup research, setting clear expectations may be the most foundational element to team success. Only about half of all workers strongly indicate that they know what is expected of them at work. Setting clear expectations for who should do what on the team allows team members to focus on priorities and goals that benefit the organization because you have identified boundaries and created ownership. Creating a foundation of Clarity also ensures two people aren't working on the same task at the same time, or working towards different goals or priorities. A lack of expectations will demotivate your employees and cause frustration. Role clarity will inform decisions, help set goals, and create a plan for execution.
Step 2: Create alignment
After each role is defined, understand how each position helps achieve your team's goals – and ensure your employees understand as well. Continually clarify roles, tasks, and decisions since change can be so frequent. An aligned understanding of priorities will drive your team to be solution-focused and engaged, rather than distracted by confusion and conflict.
Another way to create alignment is to implement an open communication policy between your team members and yourself. A psychologically safe environment will allow team members to feel comfortable telling you they are unsure of their deliverables or what others are responsible for. Align by creating a communication process. Use open communication tools to break down barriers of communication and utilize 1:1 communication with your direct reports. Leaders should be asking questions regarding the employee's role to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the organization's purpose. Set clear expectations and align on those expectations as a team.
Step 3: Promote transparency
What is everyone else working on? What priorities do my team members have that might impact my tasks? What challenges are my teammates currently dealing with that may affect me?
Team members require transparent role clarity with each other to be successful in their role. Empower your team to share information, ideas, and tasks they are working on.
Encouraging your team to be transparent will create an environment of accountability. Each member can hold one another accountable and know crucial deadlines. However, the team also relies on its leader to be transparent. Keep your employees in the loop, and be sure to funnel down high-level information. Sharing information helps each individual better understand their role and how it fits into the overarching purpose of the organization and team. Leaders who promote transparency will increase trust, resulting in employees accepting more responsibility. In the end, your employees will have the company's interests at heart.
Tight Alignment + Transparent Culture = Clarity
When you provide your team with as much Clarity as possible, your team's culture, collaboration, and performance will improve, resulting in organizational and team success. Well-defined roles and responsibilities allow your team members to be fully functional and productive to solve problems for your company and team to thrive.
Our High-Performing Teams: Building the Foundation workshop is a tool that will help you and your team create role clarity through psychological safety, tight alignment, and building a transparent culture. Connect with an expert for a free demo of our High-Performing Teams workshop to learn how you can empower your teams to take performance to the next level through role clarity. Let's talk.