The ABC Project is in trouble. Carmen is the leader of the area, and her direct reports are doing the heavy lifting to get the project off the ground. Carmen is frustrated that her boss, Celia, expressed concern over missing key deadlines. To make matters worse, when Carmen talks to her team, they say that they weren’t given the latitude to move forward. That’s why the ABC Project is stalled.

This is a situation that unfolds when there is confusion about accountability, authority and responsibility. How do you prevent miscommunications, misalignments and delays?

  1. Understand the different roles. Julia Romanenkova on Railsware.com’s blog summarizes: “These components are interrelated. Authority is the granting of power. Responsibility is the fulfilment of obligation, and accountability is answering for one’s work.”
  2. Create a single point of accountability. This person will make decisions and define the specifics of the work to be done.
  3. Decide who has authority. Who will make decisions and ensure that there is alignment on the work to be done?
  4. Clearly define responsibilities. Know who will do what by when and how. And make sure that the responsible person understands how the work aligns with necessary results and impact. The delegation framework is a great tool for defining responsibility.

Several Humanergy clients love the acronym MOCHA as a tool to create mutual understanding about work. This model features 5 roles:

  1. Manager – Assigns responsibility, holds owner accountable and gets involved when there are issues.
  2. Owner – Ensures that the work gets done, with helpers if needed. This is ONE person.
  3. Consulted – Needed for input and/or alignment.
  4. Helper – Assists with work. May be one or more persons.
  5. Approver – Signs off on decisions. May be the manager or not.

Great teams not only communicate clearly, deal with issues proactively and make great moment-by-moment choices, they align early on roles in execution of work that matters.

Do you find that project or work roles get messy? Have a clear path for defining roles? Comment below or message us.


Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash