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Last updated on 12/9/20

Define your role in the team

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Positioning yourself in the organizational chart

Your job involves one or several objectives. To achieve them, you perform single or multiple tasks and  follow procedures (methods, quality standards etc.) within specified time frames. In teamwork, members work together to contribute to a common objective.

You must, therefore, understand the shared objective and your individual contribution.

For each task, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What: what is the task?

  2. Why: what is the purpose of carrying out this task? In what way does it contribute to the overall objective?

  3. How: what procedures / methods / standards?

  4. Who: Who is affected by my actions in the context of this task. Who affects me?

  5. Where: what is the geographical scope of the action required by this task?

  6. When: how long does the team have to achieve the objective, what are the deadlines, what deadlines should I set the people whose help I require for the execution of my task?

The job description, on the basis of which you were recruited, should provide additional information on the operational links and internal and external relationships:

  • Identification of the job (example: commercial assistant, quality engineer, wages manager, etc.)

  • Status: management, non-management (supervisor, employee, higher management)

  • Position:  supervision of the team or not

  • Activity: mission and tasks, objectives set with your N+1

  • Relations to be maintained: operational relations, reporting

  • Profile: skills validated by recruitment interview

And of course, your manager and teammates will be able to supplement this information, present your contacts, and train you in procedures and methods.

Deciphering the relational chart

For the rest, you must observe and decipher, because not everything will be immediately visible, and even less will be written or said. When you arrive in a new team, there is always a feeling that everyone knows the rules except you. Your integration depends on this deciphering in which caution and patience are essential.

Who are the real leaders?

Not knowing the real leaders can lead to embarrassment.

Management is too often confused with leadership. Your N+1 has operational responsibility. Their primary role is to organize. Even if it is desirable for the manager to also be a leader, it is sometimes another person in the team who occupies this position and exercises real influence on the rest of the group. A sensible manager will not to be offended and will rely on this influencer.

So, make sure you identify the leader(s). They may also change depending on the situation and the context.

What can your role be?

Your role is not the same as your job

Your job depends on your skills, while your role depends on your behaviour in work situations. Specifically, your role is characterized by the nature of the contribution you make to collective work.

Roles are sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit, and it takes time to build them, which is one of the aspects of settling into your job.

According to Belbin (2003), there are 9 roles that contribute to the success of a team. See if you can recognize yourself in one of them:

  1. Resource Investigator: uses their inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team

  2. Monitor-Evaluator: provides a logical eye, making impartial judgments where required and weighs up the team's options in a dispassionate way

  3. Specialist: brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team

  4. Shaper: provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum

  5. Plant: tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways

  6. Completer-Finisher: most effectively used at the end of tasks to polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control

  7. Coordinator: needed to focus on the team's objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately

  8. Implementer: needed to plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible

  9. Team Worker: helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team

The role that you occupy depends on:

  • Your job: Your job predisposes you to certain roles. Some positions are more analytical or more creative, relate more to organization or support, or communication than others. But then an accountant could just as well take on the role of "organizer" as that of "perfectionist", while a marketing assistant could be a "coordinator", an "initiator" or a "supporter".

  •  Your preference: Instinctively, you carry out your tasks in a certain way that corresponds to the awareness that you have of your skills at the time, your level of introversion/extroversion, your resistance to stress, your intellectual abilities, your emotional maturity, and your value system.

  • The group dynamic: The nature of your role is not entirely up to you. Sometimes you are pushed into a role without consciously wanting it. Because that is the way others see you or because the role you would prefer is already taken. Note that you increase the risk of conflict if you take on a role that is already occupied.

Dysfunctional roles

The role of leader

There remains a role that is too often associated with that of manager and which transcends all those already mentioned because it is allocated by the others. We cannot simply choose to be a leader.

It is not necessary to be formally invested with authority in order to be leader. In more horizontal structures, the leader emerges naturally depending on the projects and situations.

Here are the attributes of the leader, who does not necessarily have hierarchical authority:

  • lays the foundations, clarifies the objectives,

  • is inspiring, has vision,

  • encourages discussion, gets people to participate, reformulates, facilitates, gathers people around them,

  • works with alternatives: always has several options and leaves a margin for accepting other people’s ideas,

  • knows how to manage disagreements,

  • looks for people who can compensate for any gaps in their own knowledge/abilities,

  • knows how to bring people together who have the right skills, and

  • maintains harmony within the group and enables each member to progress.

Fulfilling your role: warning!

If you commit yourself without maintaining a little distance, you may no longer make the distinction between your role and your own identity, which exposes you to three drawbacks:

  • You lose yourself and start to believe that you are no more than your role:

For example: A management controller has been given a cost-killing mission of identifying and removing any unnecessary expenditures. He must consider processes and people as cost centres which could lead to layoffs. Identifying with this role could cause you to lose touch with the human element. Care professions (medical, social, educational, rescuers, etc.) present the opposite risk, with the systematic sacrifice of oneself for the good of others, which can become counter-productive in the long term.

  • It prevents you from taking on other roles:

Believing that your role is embedded in your personality makes it unlikely that you will take up opportunities or try other roles. A successful, fulfilling career requires periodical role changes because each role strengthens your identity, nourishes and develops new skills and other aspects of your personality. Taking on the challenge of different roles contributes to satisfying the need for self-fulfilment (Maslow’s fifth need).

  • You make yourself vulnerable in the event that you lose the role:

Do not become too attached to your role; it can easily disappear due to a change of job, redundancy, restructuring, etc.

This is why it is important to develop your emotional maturity (see previous chapter). Mastering techniques for successfully fulfilling a role (communicating and organising effectively) will also help you to find the right balance. This is the programme for Part 2 of this course.

Summary

  • Effective teamwork requires understanding a team's shared objective and your individual role.

  • The role you occupy depends on your job, your preference and the group dynamic.

  • The success of a team is defined by functional roles: Resource Investigator, Monitor-Evaluator, Specialist, Shaper, Plant, Completer-Finisher, Coordinator, Implementer, Team Worker.

  • Various dysfunction roles hinder team success: Saboteur, Constrainer, Critic, Joker.

  • The role of leader is not necessarily filled by a manager.

See you again soon! 😁

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement