LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
“Wait, I thought you were doing that…” or “Oh, that’s my job?” are two things you might hear at home where no one wants to empty the dishwasher, but at work, while leading a mission critical project, these comments are even more cringeworthy! Of course, identifying roles and responsibilities is much easier with fewer people and fewer tasks. But, when efforts are complex and duties are intricate, sticky notes quickly lose their effectiveness. …And then there the is challenge of understanding the difference between being responsible and being accountable.
The RACI (RAY-see) Matrix offers very clear and separate definitions of responsible and accountable. Though the matrix has been known to both assist and plague project teams, it is most useful for repeatable and predictable activities. RACI is an acronym for Responsible (R), Accountable (A), Consulted (C), and Informed (I). Draw a grid and list functions or roles across the top, then list decisions or actions down the left. Now, as you consider a project or process, fill in the entire chart.
The “doer” is the individual(s) who actually complete the task. The “doer” is responsible for action/implementation. Responsibility can be shared. The degree of responsibility is determined by the individual with the “A”. … The accountable person is the individual who is ultimately answerable for the activity or decision. This includes “yes” or “no” authority and veto power. Only one “A” can be assigned to an action. ~ Role & Responsibility Charting (RACI), by Michael L Smith and James Erwin (PDF)
A few things to consider when completing a RACI Matrix:
- Reality Check: The challenge with sorting out roles is knowing what the team thinks they are doing, what others think the team is doing, and what is actually happening. Oh, most importantly, “What should be happening?” You might need two matrices, one for Today (reality) and one for Tomorrow (desired).
- Vertical Review: Examine a function from top to bottom. If you have too many R’s and A’s for one role, delegation, training, or hiring may be necessary. If a role doesn’t have any R’s or A’s, consider expanding or eliminating the position. Remember, only one role can be ultimately accountable!
- Horizontal Review: Examine an action from left to right. Too many R’s may indicate the task is too complex and should be divided. Too few R’s may indicate more help is needed to get the job done. Too many C’s and I’s may indicate consulting and informing is occurring too often and too few C’s and I’s may indicate your teams are not communicating enough or with intention.
A few final tips, don’t get too detailed– the RACI Matrix should not replace a job description or process diagram. RACI Matrices will need to be maintained as functions and decisions develop over time. Removing role confusion improves morale, balances workloads, increases efficiency, and establishes accountability (or ownership) for one individual who relies on a team of “responsible” contributors.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting all Christians, everywhere, for the purpose of Community, Accountability, Transformation, and Leadership. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.