How To Write A Team Job Description
One of the difficulties of managing a team is monitoring and evaluating the performance of individual team members. At the end of the day, who do you hold responsible for the success or failure of the team? The whole team, just the team leader or individual team members? While there is no easy answer, you can simplify team management by providing the members with a team job description at the start of a project.
What is an ideal team?
First, let’s be clear about what we mean by a “team”. Pulling together a group of employees and setting them to work on a project does not automatically make a team. They are still essentially working individually on their own assigned tasks. A real team is a cohesive group, comprised of individuals with skills that are both specific and complementary. They must work together to achieve their goal. A workgroup is like an assembly line; a team is like an orchestra. Workgroup members cooperate; team members collaborate. Each role is individually important of course, but when put together into a beautiful song, the team is better than the sum of their parts.
Spelling out duties in the team job description
Because team members must work together holistically and harmoniously, it is crucial that each member of the team understand what each and every member brings to the team. Not just what they need to do, but why they are important to the team’s success. That is where the job description comes in.
Like an individual’s job description, a team job description spells out what the team’s specific duties and responsibilities are, collectively and individually. It lists the skills and experience needed and who on the team has them. It identifies the role each member of the team is expected to play, including who will serve as the team leader. And it states who the team and team leader reports to. This is important because team members need to understand that they are beholden to the team manager for their performance on the team, not to their usual supervisor or manager, if they have one. The team leader is the person best for the job, not just someone who has a manager role already.
Goals and deliverables
The team job description also needs to specify the project’s goals and deliverables. It needs to be clear that these are the responsibility of the team as a unit. They are not the job of particular team members or the team leader. Individual members or subgroups of members may have tasks assigned to them for which they are responsible and accountable. But the team as a whole must own the project’s outcomes, or they will not function cohesively as a team.
Along with the project work plan, the team job description serves as an aid to provide clarity and direction to the team. It also establishes the criteria by which the team and team members’ performance will be evaluated and how and by whom any performance issues that might arise during the project will be handled. It is not a substitute for team management, but rather provides a common ground of understanding that makes managing the team easier and fairer.
By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
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