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Clarifying Team Responsibilities
The aim of this resource is to help a manager and their direct reports to have clarity about responsibilities: what they can and can’t do without referral. It was developed to help direct reports at middle and junior management level.
Management Meeting

It may be especially useful where a member of the team is not taking the expected initiative or for those who particularly appreciate a structured working environment. I certainly wouldn’t consider it necessary or appropriate to document this for all line management relationships. An alternative way for this to be used might be as part of an induction conversation when someone is newly appointed to a role.

I originally wrote this resource when I was seeking to delegate more operational responsibility to my direct reports. I borrowed the principle from the documented delegation aspect of the Carver model of governance (also known as policy governance). This defines and guides what can and can’t be done by those at different levels in an organisation, so that there is a common expectation.


I’ve since shared this approach with other managers and mentees who have found it useful. It is good practice to be clear about what responsibilities and authority have been delegated and the extent of this. The following is an example which sets out three different levels of delegation. You will need to customise it for your own situation.


I’d suggest that the manager prepares a draft document, then gives it to their direct report ahead of a discussion to clarify and fine-tune the contents. What follows is a sample which you can edit for your own situation.


As your line manager I’d like us to be clear about…


Matters you have responsibility for

  1. Undertaking all the tasks in your current job description (which we will review annually at your appraisal)

  2. Prioritising and fulfilling the personal objectives agreed at your appraisal.

  3. Line managing any direct reports that you have, including:

    • Undertaking regular update meetings with them, setting priorities and timescales for their work.

    • Carrying out annual appraisals which include setting personal objectives and training objectives.

  4. Actioning any specific tasks/requests from me by the requested/agreed date. 

  5. Keeping expenditure within the agreed budget or subsequent financial forecast.

  6. Writing your part of a monthly report within X days of the end of the month

  7. Sharing in the leadership of the team, making suggestions and taking initiative.


Matters to keep me in the loop on

  1. Giving advance notice if the deadline on any requested action or task needs to be extended.

  2. Providing opportunity for me to input into any of your direct reports’ probationary reviews, appraisals, personal objectives and learning and development objectives.

  3. Sharing draft financial forecasts with me for review, at least X working days before the finance deadline.

  4. Flagging any potential situation which could put the organisation at significant risk: especially where related to legal or reputational risk, financial control, strategy and programme delivery, staffing, health and safety, security of systems and data.

  5. Consulting on any proposed policy changes before they are finalised. NB Some may need to be approved by the leadership team or the board.

  6. Advising any notifications of late/overdue information received from any statutory body (eg Companies House, HM Revenue and Customs, Health and Safety Executive, Charity Commission in the UK or The Companies Office, Inland Revenue and Charity Services in New Zealand).

  7. Notifying any internal or external complaints received that are not resolved by the initial response.


Matters where a decision needs to be referred to me

  1. Any request to overspend on a budget or financial forecast, unless there is a compensating under spend of less than £XXX/$XXX within the budget for which you are responsible.

  2. Where there is a proposed change to a job description or job title and/or salary increase for any staff post.

  3. Before accepting the resignation of one of your direct reports.


If you are uncertain whether you have authority or responsibility for something please do ask me.




Author and copyright: Helen Calder 2019

This resource has been peer reviewed.

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