Empower your team, build a Responsibility Matrix

A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.

A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.

Have you ever faced a situation where in your absence, or that of a critical person, other team members are in a quandary regarding taking decisions, executing tasks or plans or sending reports?

Have you found yourself in a position where team members are calling you, as the key decision-making rests with you?

This is typically a problem faced by people who are managing multiple projects and are key to specific projects. Their team members normally have issues when they are unavailable.  This problem is compounded in the case of geographically distributed teams, or those working in different time zones.

If you have faced such a situation, this blog may be useful for you.

I believe the solution to this challenge lies in engaging with all your team members to create a ‘Responsibilities Matrix’. The idea here is to identify and list all the important tasks to be performed by the team.  Following this, the team needs to identify the primary and secondary owners of these tasks.  These responsibilities must be rotated, wherever possible, among other team members. This will help create backups and reduce dependencies on a few individuals.

I am using this responsibility matrix in all of my projects and a sample of it is attached to this blog.

The idea behind the matrix is bigger than simply adding tasks and the names of the engineers in charge. The aim is to develop a sense of ownership and team spirit. It is to empower the team, improve transparency and communication and lower the dependency on specific people.

How we did it was we sat together and identified the various tasks and grouped them under a ‘Major task’.  The teams then picked the owners of each Major task and recorded them in the Matrix.

The Primary owners were assigned the job of ensuring that the tasks were completed as planned. The secondary owners were directed to play the role of the primary owners in their absence. The individual contributors—the team members—were asked to complete the tasks. In case of a rotation, we advised them to make sure that the primary and secondary owners of Major tasks were not be moved at the same time.

I hope this gives you an idea about the ‘Responsibility Matrix’ and its benefits. I look forward to hearing your views on it.

responsibility matrix

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