Efficiency from Setting Specific Roles

Everybody doing their job!

Setting Specific Roles Brings Productivity and Efficiency

My last blog gave 6 tips for hiking in the backcountry and was pretty much a practical piece that I hope was useful. There is a back story full of relationship lessons like many others I get to share that are at the heart of hikingwithyourhoney.com. We learned the value of helping friends do a project just because we are friends. We enjoyed a quiet, cool rest journaling and talking to God. We were reminded to be open to learn from everyone. We pushed our patience to a new level with each other. We practiced being very specific with roles that use our natural skills. It is this last one that I want to tell you about today.

Specific roles – projects go better for us when each of us has a clearly defined roll-particularly when the roll is within our natural skill.

Have you ever had that feeling that you were both working hard but nothing was getting done? And have you ever felt like everything was just clicking and your project was done before you knew it? What is the difference between these two scenarios? What did you do differently and how can you repeat the productive efficient scenario more often?

Well, what we have noticed for us is that our ship flies through the water like our sails are full of wind when we know what each of us is doing. When responsibilities are clear and tasks are identified as yours and mine. Even when we are both working on the same thing because “many hands make light work” or just because it’s so big we need to both work on it until its done – we do better when we know what our roll is.

This method nearly eliminates duplication. It gives the one in charge of the task the freedom to receive input but make a decision. It gives energy to the doer because he or she owns the activity – taking responsibility for it. It brings efficiency.

One example of this is fleshed out in the following story:

We started the day working with a family out on their rough undeveloped land. We were all just puttering around making a little progress toward creating a community area. We were to develop a clearing with an outhouse, a fire ring, a tool shed and picnic area. We were having a good time but there was a lot of talking and standing around with the clock ticking. We wanted this hard couple of days of really dirty work to be social but we had certain things that really needed to get done.

Things really took off when we started assembling a large shed. I laid out all the pieces and starting doing step one because I just love building something and I needed something to do. My honey grabbed the instructions and prepared the pieces for step two because she loves to read and explain how something works. She’s done some technical writing and editing of this type of instructions and easily became the “cruise director”. She figured out the orientation of each piece and could clearly explain the step to me and the others that came along to join us. My friend Jared, supported each piece in place and I did the screw gun work. He instinctively knows what needs to be done next and what to do to be supportive. This division of labor was kind of accidental but it worked well on the first couple of steps so we stuck carefully to these roles. As we needed more hands, Jared, who is also the natural leader of the group, called for others and gave clear instructions. Jared’s Father-in-law and owner of the property, Robert, came to evaluate our progress about half way though and employed his natural skill as a problem solver. He jumped in and made slight adjustments here and there which prevented assembly issues down the line. When something didn’t quite fit, he would know just where to push or lift. We built that shed in what felt like just minutes. It really took six of us about two and a half hours but time flew because we could see progress and everyone was in their groove.

Enjoying the final product

My Mom always said, “many hands make light work”. She is right and I want to define that again but saying that this assumes that each person knows what to do and it goes even better when what they get to do is in their skill set.

What activity could you break down into steps that would help you get the job done faster? Do you have something to do where you usually fight but you have to get it done? How could you define roles and responsibility to eliminate the friction and improve efficiency? Please share your ideas with us!

You May Also Like…

1 Comment


  1. Three Keys to Recovering Your Energy | HIKING WITH YOUR HONEY: How to Get Your Sweetheart on the Trail - […] the flip side of all that productivity talk I shared yesterday is the need for recovery.  My rope gets tied in…