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Section 12  Team Roles and Responsibilities


Nadine Carpenter has stated that members of a team usually assume different roles, which are necessary to help the team perform effectively. Roles may be assumed by separate members or shared by various members at different times. In many cases, one or more team members can fulfill more than one role. 

Team Roles 

Every team has both a task and a maintenance function as roles on a team. Task functions help a team accomplish its goals and objectives. Task functions might include setting goals, gathering date, or reporting progress.

Maintenance functions facilitate the team process to ensure participation of all its members and to help teams recognize various skills and contributions of other team members, and reconciling differences. Below is a description of task and maintenance roles.  

Task Roles: 

Proposes tasks, goals, or actions. Defines team problems and often initiates suggestions or procedures.  

        Information Seeker: 
Requests facts and data. Asks for factual clarification.  

        Opinion Seeker
Asks for clarification of values related to the topic of discussion, questions values of suggested alternatives.  

Offers information, gives opinions, expresses feelings.  

Interprets ideas and suggestions, describes issues, defines terms, and clears up confusion.  

Restates suggestions, pulls together ideas, suggests decisions or conclusions for the team to consider.  

        Reality Tester
Tests ideas against data to see if they will work. Also, analyzes ideas that the team suggests.  

Raises questions about activities as they relate to goals, points out departure from initially suggested goals.  

Goes along with the team directions and decisions, passively accepts suggestions, serves as audience for team discussion.  

Maintenance Roles 

Reduces tension and tries to reconcile disagreements, helps solve problems. 

Gives feedback, encourages others to participate, listens attentively. 

[Nadine Carpenter. The 1994 Annual: Developing Human Resources  (New York: Brockstein Publishers, 1994), 139]. 

Team Responsibilities 

          Following is a description of responsibilities that can be handled by teams: 

Select the group leader.  

Teams elect their own leader from their membership. At first, popular members may be elected. But teams will quickly learn that the best leaders were those who had organizational skills, planning, interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. 

Establish relief, break and vacations schedules.  

Teams need autonomy setting up their own schedules to facilitate the unitís productivity and effectiveness. 

Make specific job assignments within the work group. 

Each team makes its own job assignments. Examples might be on a rotating or seniority schedule. Teams usually find a way to satisfy individual member preferences without compromising productivity goals. 

Train new members of a work group. 

 All team members should carry out this responsibility, which is important in terms of developing the wide range of skills required for each new member to advance.

Recommend changes for patient care issues.

Team members can make suggestions for improvement regarding products, processes, or equipment that will be in the best interest of patients. 

Conduct frequent meetings.

Teams need to meet frequently to resolve quality issues, prepare budget recommendations or examine the progress on various projects. 

Team Leader 

            The team leader plays a pivotal role as a facilitator in maximizing team effectiveness. To that end, there are numerous behaviors that team leaders can use in getting teams to manage their own efforts and passing control to the group. Among those behaviors are the following: 

        Try to help the team solve its own problems. Ask for a solution to a problem rather than proposing a solution. 

        Help a team solve conflict within its group. 

        Inform the team members when they do something well. 

        Encourage team members to discuss problems openly. 

        Foster collaboration among team members. 

        Provide teams organizational information they may need to make decisions. 

        Anticipate future problems or situations. 

        Be a team resource and mentor as needed. 

        Act the way you want your team to act. Your behavior as a team leader has a direct effect on your group. They take cures from your attitudes and actions. 

        When things go wrong (and they will) donít blow up. No matter what your team has done, losing your temper almost never helps the situation and will make things worse the next time that something goes wrong. Letting team members calmly own up to and fix mistakes repairs the damage efficiently and with the fewest ulcers and helps you plan for the next time. 

        Give team members assignments that will expose them to upper management but be around to answer questions along the way.

        View the team leader role as a challenge and not a threat. Perceive it as a opportunity for personal growth and development. 

        Prepare a class of successors, not just one successor. The best way to move up in an organization is to train someone on your team to take over. Better yet, youíll grow the team, one staff member at a time. 

        Learn your own stress signals. The healthiest team leaders know what to do when their stress level gets to high and they initiate a plan to put balance back into the equation. 

        Believe that you can make an impact and a difference. This is probably one of the most important traits for thriving as a team leader! 

Most team leaders allow their team to come together slowly, at their own pace. More savvy leaders recognize how to encourage team members to assume variations of the basic roles. John Hall describes such roles as listed below: 


No team can succeed without one person who sees ďthe big picture.Ē This individual watches the far horizons for potential problems and opportunities. This team member also maintains a sense of direction in moving the goals along when everyone else seems stuck.

There can be room on teams for more than one strategist provided they agree on an overall vision and cooperate rather than compete with each other to win the teams support for the direction they feel is most important to pursue. 


Some people seem to be born with a knack for human relations. They make everyone feel wanted, important, and central to the teamís success. These team members are described as networkers, have acquired or been blessed with the ability to recognize what other team members want, need or know.

Theyíve learned the skill or have been given the natural ability to bring other together into a cohesive unit. Too many networkers on the same team can present a problem. While they can function as the glue that keeps the team together, they can be in a position to socialize too much and not accomplish the teamís goals. 


When work needs to be done, often long, hard and thankless work, itís the dynamo that comes through for the team, time and time again. This team member is motivated by the challenge to complete specific, perhaps detailed tasks.

 He or she likes to be recognized as an expert and insists on the importance of doing quality work even against difficult obstacles. The dynamo is normally a reliable, dependable force that habitually pushes the team closer to its goals, regardless of how demanding the circumstances are. 

        [John Hall. Supervising and Managing People.  New York: McGraw Hill Publishers, 1996), 196].