Introduction to Working with Roles

Introduction to Working with Roles

A brief introduction to bring you up to speed in 2 minutes. What are Roles? How can you work with Roles? How are they used for self-management in Holacracy and sociocracy, and how can working with Roles benefit your team?

What are Roles?

Roles are clearly defined slices of work and decision-making.

What is working with Roles?

When you work with Roles, you divide the work a team or organization needs to do into coherent packages: Roles. Each Role has a mission and gets a distinct set of responsibilities.
You delegate Roles to individuals in the team. The person filling the Role is accountable for the work defined in that Role.
One person can have multiple Roles. It is also possible for several people to fill the same Role.

Roles versus functions

Roles are typically smaller than traditional functions. They are also dynamic. A function profile is often a static description created by someone else, whereas the people who do the work define a Role. They keep the Role up-to-date in regular governance meetings. Therefore Roles are more agile than traditional functions.

How is working with Roles different?

Roles are explicit and transparent to everyone in the organization. All your colleagues can see what your responsibilities are. Clearly defined Roles make it easy to find the accountable person in your organization.
When working with Roles, it becomes straightforward to distribute decision-making power to experts in your organization. Any Role in any team can be made accountable for a specific part of the work. Allocating decisions to experts in the organization allows a company to react faster and become more agile.

Roles in Holacracy and sociocracy

Holacracy and sociocracy are contemporary “operating systems” for organizations. These are frameworks that companies can use to organize themselves and the work they do. Both Holacracy and sociocracy help organizations distribute decision-making power. They replace the traditional hierarchical command-and-control structure with self-management.
Sociocracy and Holacracy both use Roles as the building blocks for organizations. But you can enjoy the benefits of working with Roles without practicing Holacracy or sociocracy. Working with Roles can benefit a single team, a department, or even an entire organization without Holacracy or sociocracy.

How will working with Roles benefit your team?

Working with Roles brings advantages for people, teams, and organizations. Both individuals and (multi-disciplinary) teams benefit from the clarity that Roles bring to the job. When you start working with Roles, you can achieve

On an organizational level, you will also benefit from a more dynamic org chart. An overview of all teams that makes all responsibilities in your organization transparent for everyone. A single source of truth that is up to date and as agile as your teams. With the organic flexibility to grow with your organization.

In our resources, you will find more in-depth explorations of the benefits and best practices of working with Roles for individuals, teams, and organizations.

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