Role Descriptions - why we can't live without them

7th March 2020


It's something that’s isn’t widely understood:

Most people want to do a good job!

Ok, there are plenty of slackers and coasters out there. But in general most people would prefer to be told ‘good work’ each day and feel that they actually accomplished something and contributed to a larger mission.

As long as they are fairly remunerated for the level of work they perform they will be self motivated and pursue their targets on their own motivation.

But.... a fundamental thing that will destroy that motivation extremely quickly is lack of structure & clarity in their work.

When it comes to structure and clarity one of the most fundamental things you can do is provide your team with clarity in the form of a Role Description.

Did you just roll your eyes? (No pun intended..)

If you did, it’s because you have been exposed to terrible Role Descriptions and have never seen them form part of a useful, clear system.

Let’s look at this simple formula:

Performance > Expectations = Good Job:
Where > is ‘greater than or equal to’

Performance < Expectations = Bad Job  
Where < is ‘less than’

As you can see in these two equations:

The variable is Performance.

The constant is Expectations.

The problem with many work places is that ‘expectations’ can vary wildly. Different people have different expectations. Even the same person can have different expectations depending on circumstance, mood, time of day…

You might have a boss one day that has fairly casual attitude to turning up to work on time, then start work at a new company where every minute late is seen as a personal insult..

The key point is, you can’t assume your employees know what you expect of them unless you clearly articulate it.

This is, of course, an ongoing process. But it all starts with a clear understanding of their role within the organisation. Including why their job exists, who they report to, what they are accountable for and, what they are authorised to do.

A role description that covers these key elements will set your team up for success by creating clarity.

Here they are again:

Purpose - What is the job, where does it fit into the company, how does it contribute to the overall success of the company, why is it important and, which other position does it report to?

Accountabilities - what are you (or their supervisor) going to hold them accountable for? What do you expect them to take care of? Write these down in simple dot points. Make sure they're clear tasks or functions that your employee is going to understand. 

Examples of accountabilities include - Keep costs to budget. Execute the marketing plan.

Authorities - what are they allowed to do? I like to make this very clear. You want a person to know the limit of their authority when it comes to your business. Can they spend $200? Do they need to ask you? Can they spend $10,000? Can they hire staff, can they fire them? Write it down. Most of the time the Authorities will tie in to their Accountabilities.

It may seem like a big task but when you sit and think about what's included it can very simple. It helps to have it laid out on one document. Remember:

  • Keep it clear 
  • Keep it simple 
  • Use easy to understand language 
  • Make it accessible to all


HELP ME PLEASE!! I can hear you cry as you look at my incredibly functional Role Description.  

Don't stress too much - drop me an email or give me a call and we can talk about how to set up the Role Descriptions for your business. 

Don't forget to have fun! 

Brett Baker :)
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