Making team members own their roles and responsibilites

/Making team members own their roles and responsibilites

Some times answering WIIFM – ‘What’s In It For Me’ for the team member while allocating role and responsibility can dramatically increase the team member’s ownership on his/her role and responsibility.  Using WIIFM can be tricky as aspirations sought but not fulfilled can be counter productive and decrease team member’s ownership.  So, it has to be used very judiciously in order to produce positive results.  Following is one incident of judicious use of WIIFM.

The project involved a legacy application based on IBM AS 400 and the project manager carried out simple one-on-one meetings with the team members during the project initiation.  One of the star performers of the project expressed that he is interested in Java and not in AS 400.  When asked by the project manager as to why he is specific about Java, the team member answered that Java projects are technologically more challenging and handling more challenging assignments would give him better satisfaction than run-of-the-mill projects.  The project manager took this aspiration seriously, but was obviously not in a position to accommodate his aspiration as his project did not involve any Java component.  So, he told the team member that if he performs well in this project, he would recommend to his account manager to try for a shift to a Java project for his next assignment.  Additionally, he assigned him a module that had maximum complexity within the AS 400 technology.  This move by the project manager kept the team member content if not delighted and helped him to take complete ownership of his role and concentrate on his tasks.

The key to this positive result is the fact that the project manager listened to the team member’s aspiration and tried his best to fulfil the aspiration.  This gesture by the project manager made the team member feel important and cared-for and resulted in better ownership.  In the corporate world, it is not that professionals would always get what they want and they would make compromises.  But, if handled carefully, this compromise would not leave them with a bad taste and instead make them view the deal that they got  positively with enthusiasm.  And the method used by the project manager in the above  case – honest concern for team member’s aspiration, but a pragmatic solution – is no rocket science and is instead simple, pragmatic and can be followed by most.


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