What are roles and responsibilities?

In order for a team to be successful it is important that players and staff all have set roles within the team’s own group structure. It is also important  there are clear responsibilities that all people involved with the team respect and carry out.  By having set roles and responsibilities a group structure can form and ensure that all factors contributing to team success are addressed. (Carron and Hausenblas, 1998)

So what are Roles?
Roles can be broken down into two categories:

Formal roles – such as the team captain, team physiotherapist and photographer – which tend to be performance based and strictly embedded in the team’s structure.

Informal roles – such as social captain or the “team joker” – which tend to be on a more social level within the team, but whose importance cannot be underestimated on the teams chemistry.

Roles are created in 5 easy steps (Eys et al., 2007):

1. Manager realises a task needs completing and needs someone to complete it.

2. Manager creates role and finds suitable candidate to complete the role.

3. Person interprets the role and what it requires.

4. Person completes the role to best of ability.

5. Manager reassesses role activity and person suitability and adjusts as appropriate.

How can roles be applied to a team?

Formal roles are often linked to staff roles within a team or the team captain but depending on the task required and the personnel available these can be delegated on to players too. Such things such as making sure training equipment is present and ready for use would often be given to a coach but in the absence of a coach a player would assume the role. However some roles cannot be easily transferred such as the Team Captain or Vice-Captain. These roles can be exclusive as only certain members of the squad suit this role. Informal roles such as “Social Captain” are often filled on their own by the person most suitable to the role (Bales, 1966). These roles can be very important in the smooth running of the team and can have a great impact on team cohesion and squad dynamics.

Roles don’t need to be exclusive to tasks off the field too. It is also important that players know the different roles relating to the way in which you want your team to play. For example it is important that each position on the field has a set role to play within the team and that these can all relate to each other. This way players know what they have to do in order for the team to be successful and how their role is important within the team.  It is also important that as a team, players are aware of other peoples roles so that they link well together. Players can receive a real confidence boost when they know they are completing their role well and it is working well within the team.

If at any point a problem appears or a role needs to be changed then the manager can easily adapt a role using the 5 steps previous. This can lead to constant adaption of roles and improved performance.

Why do we need set responsibilities?

Responsibilities in a team can also be referred to as “Norms”. Norms are set behaviours that people display in order to fit in with the group. Things such as wearing a shirt and tie or team tracksuit on game-day are set behaviours that help teams to bond together and show cohesion. Other norms such as always being on time, no negative criticism or insults towards teammates or simply everyone helps put equipment away are all ways in which help a team to build together and be successful. Having norms can help increase discipline and teach respect for fellow members of the group. It may be appropriate to have penalties for people not following team norms, such as a fine for not having clean boots on a game-day or for a mobile phone going off in the changing room. These can be used in a novel, but serious, way to reinforce the behaviours that you want within your team.

Having these set norms can also help new members of a squad adapt and gel with the current squad. If the whole team follows certain behaviours then they can conform to these and quickly be integrated into the team.

Problems with norms?

Some problems that can occur with norms are that once they are set they can be difficult to change. If bad norms exist, such as groups of players going out before game-days or players always being late, it can be hard to change these in order to implement good norms. Changing these can often be hard for a manager and can cause difficulties within the team. It is important to stop bad norms from developing, this is because things such as groups eating unhealthily or going out clubbing before game days can develop quickly and have a negative effect on performance.

Having clear and well established roles and responsibilities within a team can help build team cohesion and develop a great squad dynamic (Carron, Bray & Eys, 2002). They can teach a team to be disciplined and to have respect for each other and help each other to improve their game and reach the next level of performance.