Published: 12th January 2022
E-Canteen Fundas: Why being crystal clear about your role in the team is akin to half the battle won
Assigning roles and defining expectations play a huge part in achieving results. Be specific about the role, expectations, delivery, performance standard and consequences of achieving results
‘Our annual day competitions are coming up, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Any pointers on how to get the best out of our group members?’
‘Our team knows what they’re here for, Rinku,’ said Rahul. ‘I’m sure they will do their best.’
‘Not really,’ said Rakesh. ‘That’s a common mistake most leaders make. Just because your team members are qualified and know their jobs, it does not mean they’ll do their best. You, as the leader, are responsible to get the best out of them. Don’t leave that to chance. This is where the ‘what’ of leadership comes in — role clarity and goal setting.’
‘What are they, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘Let’s discuss role clarity now,’ said Rakesh. ‘There are two aspects to it. Firstly, identifying and defining the roles clearly, that is, each member’s function in the team. Secondly, finding and deploying the right resource for the right role. Like how we do in a play. Instead of simply giving the script to your actors and letting them figure out their roles, it's better you assign each one their role. So, let’s start with your core team. What are the important roles your team needs?’
‘We need people to lead our sports, cultural, literary and social activities and fetch us maximum points,’ said Rinku. ‘And someone to write and post content about our activities and publicise our effort so that it motivates us.’
‘Great,’ said Rakesh. ‘Now that you have identified broad roles, can you define them more clearly?’
‘But, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Why define it? Once we assign roles to people they’ll do their job right?’
‘A majority of team efforts are compromised because people are not clear about their role,’ said Rakesh. ‘You’ll be surprised to know that most people do not know their role in whatever team they are in. As a leader, it’s your job to make each one’s role very clear — what each one has to do and deliver, what their function in the team is and how it adds up to the team effort. Otherwise, the leader expects something and the team members assume something else, resulting in a wasted, inefficient effort. So, let’s hear about your expectations from your sports captain’s role?’
‘Okay, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I expect that the role of our sports captain would be to make our sports team the best in terms of discipline, preparation and team spirit — leading to good performance.’
‘Good,’ said Rakesh. ‘Put it down in behavioral terms so you can measure it. For example, how discipline, preparation and team spirit look like in terms of desired behaviour to you. Being punctual, following regular routines, being supportive and so on. Once you define roles in behavioural terms, everyone is clear about what is expected and what has to be delivered.’
‘Wow,’ said Rahul. ‘Never thought role clarity was so important.’
‘Of course,’ said Rakesh. ‘Roles are about expectations. The clearer the leader is about it, the better each one can deliver. In fact, the way you define roles can improve or diminish a member’s performance.’
‘How, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘Most people when asked to define their own roles go for minimal, simply because they do not believe in their own potential,’ said Rakesh. ‘As a leader, your biggest job is to identify each one’s potential and help them achieve it, so your team’s potential grows. If a person thinks her potential is x and you can see 5x, set an expectation of 5x in her role, which that person will try to achieve — with your support and encouragement of course. Then, find ways to make your team members feel excited about their roles and their contribution to the team. All this will show in your overall results.’
‘How do we pick the right people for the job, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘It’s most important to get the right people for the right role to get good results,’ said Rakesh. ‘Be patient. Shortlist potential candidates, spend time and understand each one. Know their strengths and limitations, analyse their past performance and motivations. What drives them? How enthusiastic are they? Do they have a plan on how to achieve results? Take your time and decide because this can make all the difference.’
‘Should they be people who are best at each subject, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul. ‘Like Fatima is our best athlete. Would she be good for the role of our sports team captain?’
‘Not always,’ said Rakesh. ‘Though it helps to be good at the job, it’s more important that they know how to produce results. Be careful not to be biased and pick your friends or those you like or can control. Pick those who will deliver results even if they disagree with you.’
‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I will write down roles and expectations clearly for each job and shortlist the right people for the roles.’
‘Do that,’ said Rakesh. ‘Once you get the right people in clearly defined roles, your effort gets doubly efficient immediately.’
Pro Tip: Assigning roles and defining expectations play a huge part in achieving results. Be specific about the role, expectations, delivery, performance standard and consequences of achieving or not achieving results. Write it down and review it periodically. Don’t leave it to your team members to figure out their roles. Tell them what you expect. If they know what is expected, they can figure out how to deliver it.