A Guide on How to Facilitate a Roles and Responsibilities Workshop | Hacker Noon

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@Isa SerpaIsadora

Passionate about solving real problems with digital things.

This activity helps teams to better understand the role and responsibilities of each person. By specifying the expectations of each person on the team, everyone understands what needs to be done to achieve team goals.

Roles are the positions each person takes in the team — for example, in an agile development team, you could have the role of a Product Manager, Developer, Business Analyst, etc.
Responsibilities are specific tasks and commitments that are expected of each person in the team who occupy a certain role.

This workshop promotes alignment on expectations for each role and of the group as a whole. This exercise is a good starting point when creating a new team or at times when the members of the team have changed.

In preparation for the workshop, it’s important to reserve a slot when each member of the team is available and is able to actively participate in the workshop, without interruptions. It’s important to have everyone engaged and committed.

Normally in facilitating, I focus on 3 main points: goal, expected outcome and time-box.

  • Goal: alignment on roles and responsibilities
  • Expected outcome: to define the responsibilities for each role and shared responsibilities of the team
  • Time-box: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Define each role that exists in the team, e.g. Project Manager, Business Analyst, Developer, Tech Lead and Designer and write them on a board (prepared ahead of the meeting). I created the below on Mural.

Time-box: 5 minutes

In this section, each member of the team has 5 minutes to write down the main activities they believe they are responsible for in their role. I suggest limiting the number of post-its to a maximum of 5 per person. The creation of these post-its is in the column corresponding to the role of the person.

Time-box: 5 minutes

In this step, the member of the team has 5 minutes to write down 1 to 3 responsibilities they believe are the main responsibilities of other roles in the team. It’s possible that some responsibilities identified don’t yet have a responsible person. In this case, participants should move the post-its to the “Unassigned” column. Reinforce the importance of listing this type of activity, because these activities can later be assigned to a certain role.

Time-box: 10 minutes per role

Choose a person to start, e.g. the Business Analyst. Ask the Business Analyst to read what they wrote as their top 3 priorities. Example below:

Following this, ask each member of the team to read what was written as the top priorities for the team’s Business Analyst. Throughout, the Business Analyst should either agree with or refuse the proposals.

In cases where there is no agreement between team members of who should be taking on a priority, it’s important that you as the facilitator, guide the discussion. Ask for examples and converge the thinking of the group. This will help the team to match the responsibility with the relevant role, or agree that the location responsibility should be placed in the “Unassigned” column.

For all roles, repeat the same exercise as for the Business Analyst. Set aside 10 minutes for each role to be discussed. It may take less time, but it’s important to allow enough time for the discussions to be effective.

After discussing and agreeing on the responsibilities for each role, the group will align expectations and identify those responsible for the activities in the “Unassigned” column. Set aside a maximum of 10 minutes to finish this column. Following this, the facilitator reads the activities and facilitates the discussion with the group so the main person responsible for each activity is identified.

Workshop summary and next steps
At the end of the exercise, summarize the roles and main responsibilities to ensure there is team consensus in moving forward. As next steps, it’s interesting to align with the team how these role assignments will be followed. I suggest scheduling a review of these roles, especially when there are changes in the team, such as people leaving or entering.

Thank you for reading and I hope this article has encouraged you to run this workshop with your team.


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