Planning Self-Managed Team Member Rotation

As teams move from being supervised or facilitated during their development to a more self-managed work team, members will take more responsibility for their different team roles. As part of this process, members will rotate their roles in order for everyone to participate in the self-leadership process. During the rotation process, team members may also choose to do cross-training to increase team flexibility and group knowledge.

The most common method for rotating team roles is to use a rotation grid. This method works best for teams with lots of different roles and any number of members. To make a rotation grid, the team leader should use Excel or other spreadsheet tool for quick creation. Make the grid with team member names listed down the first left column. Then the team should decide how often roles are to rotate: weekly, monthly, quarterly, or other. If the rotation is to be weekly, then the role titles are placed across the top row. The dates each member is to do a role would be put into the cell where name and roles converge. If the rotation is less frequent, put the months or timeframes across the top row and place a code for role titles in the cell where the timeframes and names join. Examples that may be used for role title codes are: F = Facilitator, M = Minute taker, T = Timekeeper, G = Gatekeeper, and etc.

Another option for weekly role rotation where there are few roles for members to do, such as in meetings, is to go alphabetically by last name of each member. The different roles would follow each other for three periods with the same member having multiple roles. This method works well for small or large teams since it is easy to follow without a written guideline, as long as members arrange for others to substitute in their role if they will be unavailable the week where they have an assignment. An example of alphabetical name rotation could be as follows for a four member team with three rotating meeting roles during a 4-week period:

  • The “A” member would be meeting facilitator for week 1, and then be minute taker in week 2 and timekeeper in week 3. When week 4 comes, “A” has no role other than participating team member.
  • The “B” member would be meeting facilitator for week 2, and then be minute taker in week 3 and timekeeper in week 4. In week 1, this member only does their regular team member role.
  • The “C” member would be meeting facilitator for week 3, and then be minute taker in week 4 and timekeeper in week 1. C’s week without an assigned role is week 2.
  • The “D” member would become meeting facilitator for week 4, and then be minute taker in week 1 and timekeeper in week 2. D would have week 3 without a specialized role.

Using a role rotation process can also help the team to cross-train and become a more flexible team with better group knowledge of all job tasks. During rotation, members rotate roles with each other in order for everyone to help lead the team towards self-management. Teams grow best when they can move from having a supervisor or facilitator to managing themselves and how their team accomplishes their work and assignment of responsibility for their various team roles. NOTE:

NOTE: See also article on “Power Totes for Team Roles and Rotation” for ideas to make rotation easier.