From my experience in managing and leading teams, one of the most important lessons I have learned is that, as a team leader, it’s imperative to provide a good match between the responsibilities assigned to a team member and their skill set. If you delegate responsibilities to a team member who lacks the required skills or, just as important, feels unprepared to take on the assigned tasks, you will end up with a dissatisfied team member who produces suboptimal work.
It’s always worth the time it takes, as a team leader, to understand the skill sets of your team members, and sometimes it takes a different mindset, as a leader, to achieve the right results.
Thinking about tasks and responsibilities in a functional way
Team managers will often assign work and responsibilities based solely on their understanding of certain pre-existing roles on the team. For example, client or customer service interactions might be delegated to someone who occupies a sales role, since that person has experience with those types of responsibilities. This type of delegation follows the pattern of assigning work according to position title or organizational culture and norms.
However, in assigning responsibilities, a team leader should also consider the scope of the work that needs to be done on a project or an initiative, and, from that understanding, find the best match of skill set and division of duties to accomplish that work.
If there is a member of your team who would provide a great fit between skill set and responsibility, you should consider assigning that team member to the task, even if that person might not have been customarily assigned to that role previously. This is a more functional way of thinking about the delegation of work and the assignment of duties.
Analyzing the skill sets on your team
There are different methods you can use to understand the skill sets of your team members. One way to do this is through formal assessment and through tests and skill analyses. Through assessment, you can inventory the skills and knowledge that your team members possess and gain valuable data regarding the areas in which your staff might need additional training. This can also help you decide how to delegate work in such a way that you align your team members’ skill sets with the responsibilities they are assigned.
Behavioral interviewing (conversations) may also be useful. This technique involves asking your team members to discuss a situation when they executed their work using certain skills. For example, you might ask a team member about how they resolve a complex problem to better understand their critical thinking skills, or how they collaborated with colleagues to achieve success under pressure. These types of questions can reveal much about a team member’s skills and capabilities.
In my experience, properly matching the skill sets of team members with their assigned responsibilities can increase productivity and lead to higher levels of team cooperation and confidence.