Organizations with multiple work sites typically set up an automated system of digital charts so that project leaders can assemble a virtual team without ever having the members meet in person. Instead, they gather on-line in chat rooms to discuss tasks, seek consultation, and keep each other informed.
This virtual, exacting style is useful in larger, more complex systems where records are necessary and people may not be available to meet face to face. However, smaller organizations often prefer a simpler, less formal version.
Instead of letter designations, “hats” are used to verbally indicate who is performing in what role on any given task. For example, you might be in the middle of discussing a sticky situation with your colleagues when someone asks, “What would you do?”
As they listen to your reply, some may interpret what you say as a directive because they see you as a peer coach wearing an authority [A] “hat.” Your reputation as a Doer may leave some with the impression that you are wearing the responsibility [R] “hat.” Others may see you wearing the information [I] or consultation [C] “hat” and figure you are just offering advice. Lack of clarity in situations like this creates ambiguity and role confusion, which are the building blocks of organizational dysfunction.
Until people get used to the charting process, the best way to prevent role confusion is to declare what “hat” you are wearing each time you offer input or answer questions. Let those you are coaching know that if they do get confused, it is okay to ask for clarification. What is not okay is guessing or assuming, which just leads to more unintended consequences.
Responsibility Charting empowers low performers by infusing them with new energy and clarity of purpose. As they focus more on their responsibilities, they will come to rely on each other when they are confused. Now that you know how to apply this multi-use tool, you will find that many of those folks who were previously known to be under-performers are ready to accept responsibility for getting it right. A more equitable distribution of work tasks will bring a greater level of collaboration, which ultimately leads to higher performance and greater productivity.