Role Expectation Mapping is a process described by the awesome Jimmy Janlén designed to aid collaboration and help a team work through mismatches in understanding of each other’s roles. I came across Jimmy's article recently when working with a small team who were struggling with what they could and should expect of each other.
Since there were only two distinct roles on the team, and the group was small I decided to facilitate this in a slightly different way than described in Jimmy’s post, and I created the Role Expectation Mapping Canvas to help the process. The purpose of the canvas is to allow the team to discover their mismatched expectations interactively in the room, as opposed to going through an interview process.
Step One - Describe your Role, and Those you Interact With
Each attendee filled out sections 1-4 of the canvas individually. This allowed them to describe what their responsibilities are, and how they interact with others.
Step Two - Merge Similar Roles
Then the group merged the results for those sharing the same role. For example, everyone with ‘Role A’ came together and achieved consensus on Sections 1-4 for that role. Anything a group couldn’t agree on easily was captured for later discussion.
Step Three - Surface Differences
Then, the canvases were swapped around and people had an opportunity to add to or amend the canvas of other roles based on their perspective, using a different colour pen to highlight discrepancies.
Hint: avoid the use of red pens when making amendments - too many evocative classroom memories!
Step Four - Achieve Consensus
Now that we had visualised the differences in expectations, we were able to discuss them and come to a consensus. This section didn’t differ to the original process, so refer to Jimmy’s post for further instructions.
Step Five - Solve Challenges Together
Everyone has challenges in performing their role. To end the session constructively, each attendee filled out and discussed their challenges in performing their role in Section 5 of the canvas. This gave us the chance to share and overcome our role-related issues in working as a team.
The team came up with actions that allowed them to resolve their challenges in working together. Solving each other’s issues is a great start to a more positive, collaborative working environment!