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Allocating Work Rolesin project management

Allocating Work Rôles
On digestion of this outline, you should be able to:
analyse the work structure
allocate rôles effectively
build successful teams
Definition of terms
An organisation is a group of people working together in concerted or
coordinated effortto attain objectives.
assignment of responsibility & authority
Responsibility duty to perform a task or duty; can be delegated
Accountability moral obligation to perform a task or duty: cannot be delegated
the right to give orders and expect to be followed; the right to
perform tasks without superior permission
temporary, whilst working outside one's normal area eg, as a
member of a project team
Job description
a written statement -what is done, why and how
minimum acceptable personal qualities & qualifications of an
specification incumbent
chain of command - who orders whom and who obeys whom
advice and consultancy - no power to order changes
number of subordinates who can be controlled effieciently &
Span of control
Unity of
one boss per person
The Organising Function
Chief executives are responsible for the overall activities of an
organisation, but
each manager or supervisor is responsible for the organisation of his/her own
Traditional Allocation of Work Rôles
By seniority and experiences
Originally, oldest and longest serving got best jobs
Changing emphasis on young and vital - but age is still a discriminator.
By gender
Characteristically different jobs - varies in different cultures
As with above, changing emphasis - Equal Employment Opportunity and
Affirmative Action
imply gender is still a major issue.
By Race and Class
Trades and skills passed on - often protected from outsiders.
Influence of education and background maintained status quo.
By Qualification
Educational, trade or skill
Required documentation
Changed nature of eligibility v suitability eg medical students now being
selected by aptitude
Public Service insists on selection of most eligible candidate by qualification
and experience- what does or can this mean and lead to?
By Individual Contribution
Qualifications and experience, suitability and eligibility
Technically ideal does not necessarily mean well-suited for the demands
of the job and vice versa. Whenever senior positions become available,
internal market may be bigger than realised - possible savings on
selection procedures. [In most cases, people are selected who are
technically eligible but not suited: Peter Principle?]
Normal selection criteria look at
acceptability at interview
whereas person description [job specification] for job looks at
rôle fit with the existing team.
Surprise fits are often found by accident and are few in number; tend to stay because
they are surprised, and are ineligible for like jobs outside their present employment. [I
cannot remember when I first used this diagram - but suspect I now have the positions
for Surprise Fits and Poor Fits reversed - what do you think?]
Eligibility can always be improved through training. The most eligible are often overrated whereas the most suitable are seldom recognised.
Qualities of improvers [new appointees] were seen by supervisors as
takes initiative
pride in job
good personal relations
listens to instructions
wide viewpoint
seeks work when slack
quality conscious
good timekeeper
asks questions
methodical and neat
reports faults
remedies the problems.
Non-improvers were seen as
doesn't follow instructions
bad timekeeper
dislikes supervision
careless about quality
can't concentrate
chats, gazes around
personal problems
bad personal relations
overconfident for ability
doesn't pull weight
doesn't like change
doesn't report faults
no loyalty to company
Factors were not equal in frequency.
Those who get on tend to be those who self-manage and who are aware of their rôle
relationships - not the technically able. Successful teams and individuals are aware of
their strengths, avoid areas where they cannot compete, and adopt compensating
Individually, this could mean performing a secondary team rôle if the
occasion demands it - but cannot last - the primary rôle must be dominant in the
long term.
Contracting out is another possibility o building a balanced team where sacrifice is not necessary;
delegating in the areas of one's weakness; or
announcing there is a lack in one area and seeking competition and
volunteers to fill it.
Do not be forced into maintaining a rôle which is not yours.
Changing nature of job market - jobs not so well defined, job descriptions change
regularly, managers are more volatile
Nature of legal changes - employers cannot afford to make selection mistakes.
Growing emphasis on behaviour - personality fit.
Organisational Structure
Unity of command implies one boss per person.
Authority should run in a chain, or line from the chief executive downwards.
Functions and responsibilities of each level must be dissected in each subordinate
position and worked out in more detail; ie, all general responsibilities of CEO must be
covered somewhere by someone, and no one can have a task which is not a dissection
of someone further up the chain [see Outline 14]
The CEO can delegate her responsibilities, but not her accountability [to Board,
shareholders, whatever] - as can every manager below her. If a particular task is
broken down and constantly delegated until it ends up with the floorsweeper, she/he is
ultimately responsible for seeing that the task is carried out - but each delegator
remains accountable to the higher level for seeing that it is done - ie, if the CEO finds
the floor dirty, she should ask her deputy to account for it - she in turn will ask the
next level manager and so on. The CEO should not directly abuse the floorsweeper,
nor should the various managers try to wipe their hands of it by saying - I passed it on
to manager xyz.
Each level of management should be given the authority as well as the responsibility
to carry out the delegated task. At the end of the line, the floorsweeper should be
allowed to draw necessary stores such as a broom without having to seek superior
permission - filling in 15 forms in triplicate?
Project teams
temporary - finish when project does
dual lines of accountability - to project leader and permanent head
can be cause of conflict if a member tries to play one boss off against the other
[I recall once working for a navy department and being allocated two days a
week to the air force for a project. When I asked the latter which two days, they
suggested Friday as one day because the base finished work at 1400. Three
months later, my navy boss tried to contact me at 1500 and was not very happy
that I had been finishing work at 1400 when his department continued till
Belbin's Team Rôle Descriptions
Somewhat like a Myers-Briggs test, people can complete questions which reveal the
rôle for which they would be best suited, and Belbin [see bibliography] argues that we
all fit into a dominant and a secondary rôle. Table shows rôle name, strength of
contribution in that rôle, & allowable weaknesses.
Executives rarely strong in all rôles - need to find complementary types to make an
effective team. Without doing any tests, you may be able to see yourself or others
herein - but don't take it too seriously without further detailed analysis of what Belbin
Creative, imaginative,
unorthodox, solves difficult
Extrovert, enthusiast,
communicative, explores
opportunities, develops contacts
Ignores details, too preoccupied to communicate
Overoptimistic, loses interest
Mature, confident, good chair,
clarifies goals, promotes
decision-making, delegates well.
Challenging, dynamic, thrives
on pressure, has drive and
courage to overcome obstacles.
Sober, strategic and discerning,
sees all options, judges
Co-operative, mild, perceptive,
diplomatic; listens, builds,
averts friction, calms.
Disciplined, reliable,
conservative, efficient, turns
ideas into practical actions.
Painstaking, conscientious,
anxious, searches out errors and
omissions, delivers on time
Singleminded, self starting,
dedicated, provides knowledge
and skills in rare supply.
Can be seen as manipulative,
delegates personal work.
Can provoke others, hurt
Lacks drive and ability to
inspire others, overly critical.
Indecisive in crunch situations,
can be easily influenced.
Somewhat inflexible, slow to
respond to new possibilities
Inclined to worry unduly,
reluctant to delegate, can be a
Contributes on only a narrow
front, dwells on technicalities,
overlooks the big picture.
Pitfalls & Problems of Team Work
Make sure
meaning of team i s precise - not synonymous with sheep, audience, squad,
players have reciprocal parts, know each other's parts and react dynamically.
Be wary if
functional structures take precedence o people are there in the team by virtue of their positions or
o by being selected by other people.
the emphasis on teamwork is such that no one wants to rock the boat, and
complacency rules - despite the emphasis on communication, newsletters,
Strained relations
Sometimes, members of a team do not get on as well as they should, or you, the
manager, have problems with one of the members. Belbin sees 3 groups, symbolised
failure to see how relationship can ever be established
avoidance after actual experience[s]
enjoyment of success in one plane, but not another. [eg, social v working]
Need to look for strengths of each party perhaps by examining weaknesses and
assuming in good faith that negatives also have their positive sides.
Need to try to find mutual rôle recognition - as this may be missing or obscured, for
one or both.
Need for one to move to a secondary rôle which is more manageable but probably
only a temporary solution.
Introduction of a third party may help - may also disrupt a working relationship.
Steps to Success
1. For a project, use of working parties to present reports to the committee allowing chair to incorporate outsiders.
2. For the organisation, change in selection procedures - not selecting what you
already have, restructuring the job - will need an outside consultant to avoid
inbuilt processes and culture.
3. Ask the right questions - what is the goal? Find Shapers and Co-ordinators to
4. Find a good project manager or CEO and let him pick his own team - but may
prefer those he is comfortable with, not necessarily the best for the team.
5. Choose a talented specialist and then find a manager who can relate well to
her/him. The ensuing team needs to be one without conflicting priorities - but
functional and seniority considerations tend to intrude.
6. Once team is chosen for a project, not before, decide on the style to be followed
- regular meetings of all, working in small groups or individually?
a. Identify needs - set right targets - shapers and co-ordinators
b. Find ideas - how to proceed - plants and resource investigators
c. Formulate plans - weigh up options & make sure all resources are made
good use of - monitor evaluators and specialists
d. Make contacts - persuade doubters that improvement is likely and
appease those disturbed - resource investigators and team workers
e. Establish the organisation - develop plans, procedures, methods, working
paractices - implementers and co-ordinators
f. Follow through - make sure that all works well - completers and
Casting director needs to put right people in right jobs - often falls to CEO or another
senior executive - hence need for them to be well trained. Use of computer-assisted
typing of team rôles - vastly expensive but worthwhile. In smaller organisations,
casting director will need broad vision.