Defining Roles With Responsibilities
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what roles each individual should assume in a collaboration (e.g., meeting leader, archivist, contact person, etc.). This difficulty is due in part to the fact that individuals are often quite poor at recognizing what they do best and where they fall short. This activity is meant to highlight the skills and values of each member, and to help assign roles in collaboration.
Read through the following list of traits, and for each item, rate yourself on a 1 – 7 scale (1 = “Does not describe me at all”; 4 = “Neither describes nor doesn’t describe me”; 7 = “Describes me extremely well). After the scoring, discuss the results with the group as they relate to the different responsibilities within the collaboration.
1. I don’t like having to offer the first opinion.
2. I excel at identifying and using the strengths of others.
3. I don’t hesitate to speak up to help the group make the right choice.
4. I excel at weighing the pros and cons of different courses of action.
5. I facilitate projects by clarifying procedures and verifying information.
6. I find that ideas are best communicated in a “free-flowing” way; stopping to take notes hinders my thought process.
7. I don’t believe in pressuring others to make decisions or act quickly; people work best at their own pace.
8. I am good at “thinking outside the box”.
9. Once a project is underway, I don’t like having to train new people to bring them up to speed.
10. I excel at “boiling down” ideas so that they are understandable for everyone.
11. If others seem committed to an idea, I don’t like to “rock the boat” and offer a dissenting opinion.
12. I believe that precision and high standards are key to success.
13. I am easily distracted by my thoughts or other work.
14. I like coming up with creative solutions that others might not think of.
15. I ensure that my work is completed thoroughly and on time.
16. I thrive on working under pressure.
17. I don’t like being the person who brings others to consensus.
18. I believe that hard deadlines can create undue stress for group members.
19. I believe that work should speak for itself; it’s better to be thorough than to reach a wide audience.
For questions 1, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 17, 18, and 19, subtract your score from eight. For example, if you gave yourself a “3” for question 19, your score should be “5” (8 – 3 = 5).
We have delineated the following common “roles” in a collaborative group. Add up your scores (including the scores that you just reverse-coded) for each of the following traits to get a sense for where your strengths may fall.
Facilitator (Q1, Q3, Q4, Q8, Q11): You have no problem speaking your mind in a group, and getting others to share ideas. You are happy to start discussion, and generally have a clear sense for what needs to be decided to reach objectives.
Communicator (Q4, Q5, Q9, Q10, Q19): You prioritize being able to reduce information into a form that is accessible to many people. Although you believe in the importance of the work you do, you believe that it is equally important to be able to communicate that work to others. You are willing to talk to members of other groups, and bring them up to speed on project currents when necessary.
Note-taker (Q5, Q6, Q12, Q13, Q15): You prioritize organization, and believe that the most efficient way to approach a task is to be diligent and thorough in handling of information. You are willing to fact-check as necessary to help eliminate false information from meetings and records.
Meeting manager (Q1, Q2, Q4, Q8, Q11): You believe in keeping everybody on-task and keeping the group’s goals in the forefront of everyone’s mind. You will delegate tasks as necessary, but can also come up with novel solutions on your own when necessary.
Archivist (Q5, Q6, Q12, Q13, Q15): You are timely and organized, and you place an emphasis on accuracy and completeness. Like the note-taker, you have no problem being the person who keeps track of things the group discusses and important materials that the group uses. You make sure that people meet their deadlines.
Timekeeper/Objective Organizer (Q7, Q12, Q15, Q16, Q18): You understand the value of having set deadlines and work well within time constraints. You will keep the group on-task and try and use the group’s time in the most optimal way possible. You can see the “big picture” and understand what incremental goals need to be set and met in order to achieve the group’s objectives.
[Inspired by Belbin Self-Perception Inventory (SPI) (Belbin, 2012). Specific questions and scales in this activity are different than in the SPI.]