Construction workers looking ahead and talking at a construction site

Role clarity is critical in the forming process of new project and bid teams. Project team members need to know what’s expected of them, where the boundaries are and what success looks like in order for them to feel safe in the team, empowered to make decisions and be pro-active.

This doesn’t mean that project team members adopt an ‘it’s not in my job description’ attitude, but rather empowers them to be more proactive as they are not confused as to where they should focus their efforts thus freeing up energy to be more productive.

Role clarity is a security need and is important for getting the basics right as a Project Director or AMT member when creating an environment for success. We cannot ask project team members to be committed and highly motivated if their security needs are not being met.  Ensuring everyone is clear on both their role and what success looks like is a critical focus area for any Project Director or AMT member to create an environment of trust, teamwork and collaboration.

For project or bid success this needs to be set early during the forming stages of the project team to ensure upfront alignment.

In my experience there are five key areas to role clarity which include:

  • Expectations and Standards – These are the expected standards of behaviour in the team and what is seen as acceptable and not acceptable. I often refer to them as the ‘Ground Rules’;
  • Accountabilities and Responsibilities – This is the individual role accountabilities in terms of what work individuals are expected to undertake and the areas they are expected to deliver outcomes;
  • Authority and Delegations – The permission levels of the individual in terms of where they are empowered to get on and make decisions vs. when they need to check in with others;
  • Key Focus Areas and Priorities – This is the priorities of the team in terms of where individuals should prioritise their time and energy.  For example, client service, safety, production, stakeholder relationships etc. This is particularly important for Bid Teams in terms of linking back individual roles to the projects key win themes; and
  • Objectives and Key Performance Indicators – The goals which focus our efforts and the measures that indicate whether we have been successful or not. What gets measured and what gets incentivised is what gets done, so being clear on what we want the project team to prioritise is critical.

Role clarity is a relatively basic concept, yet it consistently emerges as a gap when we are working with project teams. One of the main gaps is that Project Directors and AMT members are often inconsistent in what they expect in that they say one thing but their behaviour reflects different priorities. Congruence and alignment around what we say and do is critical in role clarity to ensure staff are not getting mixed messages between what is set down in writing and what the Project Director or AMT member indicates are the priorities on a day to day basis.

Project Directors or AMT members need to work hard on role clarity as it takes time for people to align and get on the same page.  Having a job description is not enough and alignment requires regular reinforcement.