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Depicting Roles with a Responsibility Assignment Matrix

One way you can display team roles and responsibilities is in a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) — also called a Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC). Defining and sharing team roles and responsibilities upfront can help you improve performance and identify and head off potential difficulties during any project you are managing.

The RAM is a table that depicts each project audience’s role in the performance of different project activities. A RAM’s format is as follows:

  • Project deliverables are in the left-hand column.

  • Project audiences are in the top row.

  • The role each audience will play in performing the work to produce each deliverable is in the intersections of the rows and columns.

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The RAM here indicates which of the following three roles people can have in this project’s activities:

  • Primary responsibility (P): You’ll ensure the results are achieved.

  • Secondary responsibility (S): You’ll ensure some portion of the results is achieved.

  • Approval (A): You’re not actually working on the deliverable, but you approve the results produced by others who are.

The RAM is just a format. For each project, you define and assign the roles you feel are appropriate. You may, for example, decide to use the following roles in addition to the three already defined:

  • Review (R): You review and comment on the results of an activity, but your formal approval isn’t required.

  • Output (O): You receive products from the activity.

  • Input (I): You provide input for the activity work.

The roles included in a project RAM describe the work different people must do to help accomplish the project activities. To help your team members increase their contributions to the entire team as well as the quality of their own work, base their project assignments on their skills, knowledge, and experience and on the behaviors they tend to exhibit on tasks they perform.

Examples of behavioral roles that people play include the following:

  • Encourager: One who praises and accepts the ideas of others

  • Harmonizer: One who relieves tensions and resolves conflicts

  • Gatekeeper: One who encourages other team members to participate

  • Follower: One who follows the lead of others

  • Group observer: One who gives feedback while maintaining his distance

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