Structuring Your Team's Roles and Responsibilities

Pierre-Alain Bouchard

VP Engineering at Swile



"When working with a smaller sized company it might seem like a challenge to figure out who is responsible for what. There tends to be a lot of noise because everyone would like to give their opinion on every topic, and this leads to disruptions and a sense of ownership. As a manager, how can you combat individual involvement every step along the way, and thereby, balance the team dynamic?"

Actions taken

I recommend using the RACI matrix. It is a simple and effective means to defining and documenting roles and responsibilities. RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. What you do is ask individuals to write down on paper what they believe they are responsible and accountable for. Then they share their answers with the group and determine why, maybe, three people are accountable for one thing while no one is responsible for another. People make assumptions, but when they put it down on paper they have to stop and think about where their focus is and where the gaps are. This is a fantastic tool that shows discrepancy and responsibility amongst the team.

Another option is to define categories. Separate people and define distinct territories that they are responsible for. This may cause a little bit of tension in the beginning, but fundamentally the team will adjust and come to realize why they are involved with that specific aspect. It will tidy up collaboration, ensure work is done only by the people who need to be involved, and reduce problems overall. It is an organizational restructure that enhances the order and accountability of the team.

Lessons learned

  • "Many people who are no longer involved in a feature remain preoccupied with it. They want to stay in the loop and receive information about that aspect. A weekly group update will naturally free up their mind to focus on the tasks that they are newly responsible for."
  • "Communicate with the team the value of reorganizing. Get them to remember the values of the company and the goal that they all share."
  • "Encourage the respect of other team members and the work that they are assigned. Include it in your values and your company culture and you will help the group to be successful."

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Pierre-Alain Bouchard

VP Engineering at Swile

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentLeadership TrainingFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionTeam & Project Management

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