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Business Leadership

Overthinking roles and responsibilities

I’ve seen this time and again — most managers and team players confuse roles with responsibilities. They’re not the same, and using them interchangeably more often than not causes a boatload of confusion that organizations and teams can do without.

So, if you’re a manager, coaching your team is a responsibility. It’s not a role, and assuming one will only mean that you’re not doing the one thing you’re paid for — managing your team. Mere coaching isn’t enough unless, of course, you’re an internal coach and coaching teams and leaders are part of your responsibilities.

The demarcation between roles and responsibilities is an important one because most leaders tend to stack on newer responsibilities without realizing that it’s getting in the way of their primary functions. And all of that causes a great deal of stress and overwhelm.

Here’s my take — if a newly stated responsibility (like coaching or even ‘quality control’) is proving to affect the team or organization at large positively, the leadership needs to consider converting it into a full-time role. Because fundamentally, it’s far better to bring in a specialist than have five different people carry out the responsibilities.

Yes, you can have those rounds of discussions (mostly unnecessary) around the ROI and wade through heaps of paperwork for business cases, but overthinking or overanalyzing isn’t going to help. Delaying a strategic move like this is only going to sabotage performance over the long haul.