Understanding Each Other’s Role

It is not uncommon to hear the words, ‘I don’t know what he/she does’.  In fact, it is quite common.  I’m almost tempted to say it’s very common.

I was watching an old episode of MASH last week.  It was Christmas and someone suggested all members of the unit should swap roles for 48 hours.  Apparently, it was a British military tradition to change roles on Boxing Day.  Higher positions swapped with lower positions in the hierarchy.  This meant surgeons could be nurses or orderlies.  The major became the clerk and vice versa.  Of course, some people loved this switch and others not so much.  It presented plenty of laughs.

However, it was apparent individuals were still utilising their skills and knowledge despite the position they were ‘acting’ in.  Individuals were able to bring a different way of thinking to the position that may not be natural for the incumbent.  It also became apparent, regardless of rank, experience, knowledge or skills, there came a time when the lack of knowledge about the role, began to have an impact on how the unit could or would operate.

Knowledge, skills, experience, and approach are important at every level of a structure.  It can make the difference between performing or not, both individually and as a Team.

Having role clarity is an important and fundamental element in creating the foundations for a high performing team.  In the first instance, the individual and their immediate manager must be clear and have a shared understanding of the role of the individual.  Secondly, understanding what other members of the Team do is also particularly important.  Besides the assumptions people start to make about what someone may or may not be doing, it provides understanding of the value each role and individual provides to the Team.  It obviously helps to know what to do in times of absence.

How well do the members in your Team understand each other’s role?

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