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How to Share Work Responsibilities


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1) Basics on why and how Work Responsibilities can be shared:
Responsibility is a feeling and understanding of ownership. When a group of persons is assigned to a task this doesn’t mean yet they automatically share responsibility for it, because if this group is organized in a “traditional” way, then there is only one (or maybe two) person(s) who really cares about this task, while others just do what they are commanded to do, no more and no less.

This happens because people don’t really (want to) share responsibilities. There are a set of reasons why supervisors and workers neglect sharing responsibilities, while staying committed to traditional model of relationships. In this model group members are focused on satisfying their manager who owns all power, responsibility for task, and managerial resource, so things just fall apart when this manager isn’t at workplace or decides to leave.

Teams with shared responsibilities appear just more steadfast against different business challenges as they “don’t put all their eggs in one basket”. Let’s briefly consider what it means to share work responsibilities with team members and what may hamper this process.

What does it mean to share work responsibilities:

  • More autonomy for partners: when people decide to share responsibilities, they go beyond the traditional model of employee-manager relationships. They establish rather a partnership where awareness of partners, along with their engagement into managerial processes, is much higher, therefore a workgroup appears robust and sustainable in a challenging environment, as everyone is “a driver”, but not only “a passenger”.
  • More self-management for partners: sharing responsibilities puts a person above a convenient model: “I do just what I was asked to do (I am not responsible for orders coming from the top)”. Once people are granted more autonomy, they become more amenable to themselves. They can make decisions, and hence they need to understand that their current choices will place them in certain situations which they will need to cope with in future.
  • Less burnout for manager: when a person tries to handle too many things by himself/herself, this overload can just stress him/her down to exhaustion and sickness. Sharing responsibilities is what can prevent manager’s burnout. A manager, even if his/her tolerance to stress is very high, can find a lot of more suitable tasks for applying his/her talents and skills, than taking personal responsibility for every detail.
  • More of mutual supervision: in traditional workgroups the manager owns work success, while other team members are rather interested to please their boss with their work results, but they do not really care of results delivered by their co-workers. They may say: “Supervision over my co-workers is not my task. Their mistakes are their problems yet. I have enough of my own tasks to do”. As we mentioned before, a manager cannot be fully responsible for quality of every item, but when workers share task ownership, they will be interested to help each other in eliminating mistakes as they can harm the overall product and success.
  • More motivation for partners: once people are interested in their shared outcomes, they have an environment stimulating them to become more valuable to their teams: to improve their own skills and knowledge, to be more diligent and proactive.

Why managers may not share work responsibilities:

  • Love to control: some managers are just complete control freaks. They love to control every detail of work and every step of their subordinates; perfectionism is their natural style of work, and they consider sharing responsibilities as intruding into their kingdom of absolute control.
  • Belief in their own superiority: some managers really think of their positions and authority as of natural results gained by their outstanding talents and personal traits. Their competence and power need to be inviolable and should be respected, they are only ones who know what to do, and they have all rights to establish and rule a kind of their own corporate despotism.
  • Lack of trust: some managers are very suspicious about people, or they are very worried about results, so they are sure that they need to keep everything under control and nobody can handle everything well enough as only they can.

2) Sharing Work Responsibilities:

  1. Establish partnership on the project (share work ownership with partners):
    1. Set an interesting mission to be shared by the work participants;
    2. Define benefits that can be gained by participants from success of the work;
    3. If possible, make the team members investors/shareholders of the project;
    4. While key team members can become shareholders, others may need a plan to join them;
    5. Link remunerations of people to results of their work;
    6. Set rules of mutual respect and accountability;
  1. Respect democracy and autonomy of team members:
    1. Keep people aware of working plans and involve them in decision-making;
    2. Regularly collect inputs and opinions from the team members;
    3. Maintain regular feedbacks on performance and reviews of work done;
    4. Provide people with guidance and consulting, but not with directives;
    5. Respect diversity of opinions and help in resolving conflicts;
    6. Eliminate favoritism, egoism and fear in the team;
    7. Continually motivate people with praise, rewards and positive criticism;
  1. Maintain self-management and organization:
    1. Enable personal work planning based upon approved priorities;
    2. Avoid micromanagement and giving some strict directives;
    3. Encourage and help people to organize their workplaces in manners they like;
    4. Trust people as you trust professionals, support their creativity and expertise;
    5. Establish leadership to serve as an example of excellent performance;
    6. Provide people with ideas on how they can improve their skills and working style;
    7. Give them more possibilities for co-operation and teambuilding activities;
  1. Promote and maintain understanding of what people are responsible for:
    1. Explain the team what everyone of them is responsible for;
    2. Explain them how this is linked to their skills and competence;
    3. Make sure everyone considers his/her own portion of responsibility as correct and fair;
    4. Make sure everyone understands how his/her responsibility is linked to overall success;
    5. Set high enough, but fair, feasible and transparent standards of performance;
    6. Reduce paperwork related to reporting, but rather set controls only at key points;
    7. Explain that the management has a leading portion of work responsibility, and hence is always open for comments, suggestions and positive criticism (would appreciate it);

3) A simple way to share Work Responsibilities with VIP Task Manager:

VIP Task Manager is a product that stands for collaboration between people, so it enables multiple employees to share their responsibilities in terms of their particular tasks and goals. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to share work responsibilities between people using this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Permissions;
  • Task Tree mode;

Task Tree mode actions (define responsibilities to be shared):

  1. Make sure that you have effective work breakdown structure of task groups and tasks;
  2. Determine the tasks (set their time, priorities, etc) and select the team members who are suitable to take responsibility for them;
  3. Adjust Permissions at “Permissions Panel” to allow these resources to “View” and “Edit” tasks that they will share responsibilities for;
  4. Make sure they can see the tasks and task groups they need to be responsible for;
  5. Use tab “Resources” to assign tasks to appropriate people;
  6. Ensure that the supervisor (or team leader) is selected in the “Watch List”, so he can get instant Notifications on progress and changes;
  7. Add some explanations into Notes section of each task or task group;
  8. Use Comments to maintain cooperative communications and send feedbacks;
  9. Use “Attachments” to add some links to work-related documents;

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