Developing A Responsibility Chart

Have you ever had the situation where you've been involved in a discussion that went along the lines of "I thought you were doing that" or "Nobody told me about that, if you'd asked me I would have said that wouldn't have worked because of these problems ..." or, "I'm so busy, while they are sitting around twiddling their thumbs".


  • Sample Responsibility Chart (excel)
  • Responsibility Chart Template (docx and pages)
  • PDF of this article

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It is conversations such as these, that give rise to your need to maybe make use of a tool known as the Responsibility ('R') Chart.

The R-Chart enables you to engage your team members in discussions about responsibility for activities and decisions that the team must make. In other words you are deciding who does what, who needs to help and who has approval/veto power.

Creating your R-Chart can lead to very robust, and sometimes time-consuming, conversations but at the end of the process you have a richness of understanding and clarity in the team , that can transform performance rapidly.

I have witnessed a team that, within a three month period, went from confusion and inefficiency to improving their productivity by a factor of three and team morale soared.

The Responsibility Chart can be used:

  • With a team that is just forming
  • With a team that has been in place for a while, but is having issues over who is responsible for what
  • To facilitate growth in the team, by clarifying who is currently responsible for what, and who could/should be responsible for it in the future
  • To more evenly distribute workload
  • To build greater understanding of each member's role in the team
  • To assign responsibilities across an entire organization

Process For Creating Your R-Chart

  • Decide who to involve
  • Draw up the R-Chart
  • Document the current process, indicating who currently has the "R", "I", "S" and/or "V"
  • Decide if the current process needs to be modified for you to become more efficient

Let's take a look at each step in more detail ...

Decide Who To Involve

You need to decide if you are going to create the R-Chart:

  • Together with the entire team,
  • By using a sub-set of the team,
  • By the team leader completing alone, or
  • Completed by each team member individually and collated by the team leader

As you can guess there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. A lot will depend upon the outcome you want to achieve as to which method you choose.

For example, if you had listed the following, as your desired outcomes for putting together a Responsibility Chart:

  • High degree of understanding, by all team members, of all activities and decisions made within the team
  • Complete commitment to implementing and applying the resultant output
  • Engagement of the team
  • Growth of the team

then your only option, to be truly successful, would be to complete the R-Chart process as an entire team. Using a scale of 'high', 'medium' and 'low' the table below provides an indication of what you can expect:

Involvement Efficiency Time Understanding Commitment Engagement Growth
As An Entire Team M H H H H H
Probably the least efficient, but definitely the most effective for long-term implementation and team growth
Using A Sub-Group M M M M M M
Still requires a review by the entire team and their input provided back to the sub-group is necessary for the output to be successfully implemented
As Individuals M M L L L M
The team would need to come together to discuss the differences and decide on appropriate outcome
By Team Leader H L L L L L
Probably the most efficient, but possibly the least effective in terms of implementation (or at least committed implementation)

As the R-Chart is developed, particularly when the team is engaged in creating it, there are often many powerful and enlightening discussions. You can literally see light bulbs go off around the room as people gain a fuller understanding of what has to happen, in order for the end product or service to be produced. You witness people start to question why a specific task or decision, needs to occur as it does, and whether that is the most efficient way for the team to operate.

Once you've decided how you are going to create your Responsibility Chart the next step is to:

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