Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017 IMA: BIZ: Essential roles in a self-managed working group (team)

Essential roles in a self-managed working group (team)
Updated 6/5/2017
A quick summary of what team members need to do in a self-managed working group to help it function effectively and efficiently.


  • Takes responsibility for helping the team make progress.
  • Shares the team goal.
  • Helps to plan the path that gets the team to that goal.
  • Notices communication problems and acts to resolve them.
  • Pays attention to what the team needs for effective functioning "right now."
  • Tries to supply the immediate need immediately.
  • Points out needed action items.
  • Takes action items when possible.
  • Helps with action items when possible.
  • Keeps track of pending action items.
  • Keeps focused on the goal and shares that focus with the team.


  • Everybody's job is nobody's job.
  • The secret to getting there is to know where you're going. 
  • A problem is just an opportunity to see what you can do. 
  • The gate to discovery opens if you ask the right question.
  • You can get more practice in complaining than you can with fixing.
  • If you are perfect on the first try, you have nowhere to go but down.
  • If you are not learning new things, you already know all you will ever know. 

How can I see group (team) roles?

Mindfulness in groups: Paying attention to how the group is functioning, as distinct from paying attention to your own interests.  If you do that you will soon see that some actions are needed to move the group toward its (your) goal.  
These tasks are conventionally done by a designated leader; others in the group leave it to the leader to see the need and take the needed action.  A self-managed group needs some members to do these tasks.  These have come to be called "roles."

Types of team roles (from Boundless)

Action-oriented roles are pragmatic—they focus on getting things done by taking ideas and turning them in practical plans. We think of these as leadership roles, since what they do can stimulate others to achieve goals
People-oriented roles deal with coordinating tasks, supporting communication, and facilitating working relationships. These roles can require negotiation skills, keen perception about human behavior, and good listening abilities. 
Idea-oriented roles involve generating new approaches, analyzing information, and thinking critically about the team's work. Often these roles are filled by specialists with deep knowledge in a functional area or another type of subject-matter expertise.

Concrete examples of  group roles

Idea-oriented roles

  • Contributing ideas
  • Listing information that needs to be available and considered
  • Offers relevant information
  • Seeking ideas
  • Evaluating ideas
  • Organizing ideas into groups of related ideas
  • Devil's advocate
  • Seeking idea evaluation
  • Proposing goal-related criteria for evaluating ideas
  • Visualizing abstract ideas
  • Generalizing from specific ideas
  • Brainstorming

Action oriented roles

  • Goal setting
  • Agenda making
  • Turning ideas and goals into concrete plans 
  • Proposing action items to implement concrete plans
  • Citing needed action items
  • Asking for action-item takers
  • Taking an action item
  • Helping on an action item taken by someone else
  • Reporting on an action item
  • Reviewing action-items pending
  • Summarizing the status of action items
  • Proposing agreement by consensus

Group maintenance roles

  • Record-keeping: ideas, plans, action items, pending action items
  • Seeking consensus
  • Clarifying opinions
  • Gate-keeping
  • Mediating
  • Harmonizing
  • Instigating group self-analysis
  • Resolving conflict
  • Relieving tension--joking

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                                1 comment:

                                1. Nice. Saving this one for my notes. Most of us could also use an outline of "what to do if a team member does not share the goals" and other stuff that goes wrong.


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