Role Definition

Define Roles to Deliver Results

If you want to go on vacation, do you just get in the car and start driving? No! You define where you want to go and how to get there.

If you want to break up a sidewalk, what type of hammer should you use? If you’re framing a house, what hammer should you use? How about making a picture frame? Fighting a battle? Tearing down a wall?

Is any hammer right for any job? No! You have to make sure you have the right tool for the task.

So is any person right for any job? No! People are even more varied than hammers. You have to make sure you get the right person in the right seat.

Can you imagine using a carpenter’s hammer to break up a sidewalk? Can you get the job done? Probably not. Does it help you “build character”? No. Who’s to blame when you ultimately can’t finish the task? You? Or the person who gave you the improper tool?

The fault lies with the wrong hammer choice. But you don’t know what type of hammer you’ll need until you define the job to be done. The exact same rule applies to the hiring process.

You cannot match a candidate to a job until you’ve defined the job.

This is a very simple concept yet hardly anyone does it. This first step in the hiring process is the most important. It sets the foundation for not only a good hire but also for a great team member. It is a critical step in building a successful company.

And yet, most companies skip this step.

The foundation of your success starts with defining what you need from each role at your company. That definition is vital to ensuring your team will deliver the results you need. Every role plays a part in your success.

Defining the role provides countless benefits. The two biggest are improving communication and accountability.

It is an invalid assumption that everyone at the company knows and understands each of the roles within the organization. In fact, you and your manager may have different, unvoiced opinions about the Key Accountabilities of a role under your supervision. You have to clearly communicate what you need from each role so that everyone knows what is expected—both from themselves and their peers.

This clarity will then set you up for accountability. Once you’ve shared the expected successful outcomes of each role, everyone will agree to meet those expectations. You will give them the training, the feedback, the responsibility, and the authority to accomplish those outcomes. But then it becomes their responsibility to be successful. You will guide. You’ll help. You’ll coach. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know they’re the wrong fit if they can’t perform on their own.

A third benefit of defining a role well is that it also sets the basis for job satisfaction and engagement.

You’ll be able to find candidates who are well-matched to the skills, knowledge, experience, and Behavioral and Driving Forces of the job. This means that they will naturally like what it is they are doing and therefore be more enthused and excited about their work.

People who are well suited to their roles are more likely to offer discretionary effort. Going above and beyond just the bare minimum. But you won’t tap into that extra effort if you don’t get people in the right seats.

Defining Roles through the Benchmarking Process

Our patented job Benchmarking process allows the job to “talk”.  The process will eliminate any personal biases and get to why the job exists. It answers questions such as: What are the key results the job is responsible for? Which behaviors does this job primarily need to demonstrate? What is the motivation this job provides? What skills, knowledge, and experience are required to succeed in this role?

The Benchmarking process begins with a brainstorming session where all the stakeholders in the role will discuss all the reasons why the job exists. Stakeholders are those who understand the role well, those who are currently performing the role well, and those who manage and/or work directly with the role.

We will use the Brainstorming exercise to clearly define the Key Accountabilities (success outcomes) of the position. We then summarize and codify the Key Accountabilities in a Job Defined Agreement. Think of it as an outcome-focused, living and breathing job description. In addition to creating the Job Defined Agreement, the Key Accountabilities will help to define the Behaviors, Driving Forces, Competencies, and Acumen required for success in the role.

The Benchmarking session is incredibly valuable to the organization as it enhances communication and accountability. By eliciting input from those involved in the success of the role, it creates buy-in and understanding. It helps everyone at the company understand what the role is expected to deliver. Eliminating confusion, duplication, and scope creep.

The Job Defined Agreement

The Job Defined Agreement (JDA) is your link with your direct report. You’ll use it in the hiring process, helping you to understand who to look for to fill the role. And it will help you give feedback every month, if not more often, once you have hired for the role. As a living, breathing document you and your direct report will update, improve, and modify the JDA as the role changes.

It will give your teammate the autonomy to work within the boundaries you have set. It will give them the authority as well as the responsibility to perform their role within the organization.

Imagine every task, duty, and responsibility in your organization being on someone’s JDA. Everyone will know what everyone else is responsible for. And you’ll have peace of mind knowing that everything is being taken care of by someone.

Elements of the Job Defined Agreement

  • Results Statement
  • Reporting Positions (if any)
  • Key Accountabilities in order of importance
  • Position Specific Standards
  • Company-wide Standards

The Results Statement

A concise description of the role, ideally one sentence in length. You create it after the other elements of the JDA. It’s used primarily to describe to others what the role is all about. And you’ll use it most often for recruiting. Instead of telling someone in your network that you are looking for a salesperson, you would say instead that you are looking for someone who can profitably book new HVAC equipment work by effectively responding to referrals from service and call-ins by representing the company in a win/win manner.

What you think when “salesperson” is mentioned will be different than what your networking contact thinks when you mention “salesperson”. Eliminate the possibility of confusion by using the Results Statement.

Reporting Positions

These are the roles that report to the position. It includes the job title and the related results statement.

Key Accountabilities

This is where the rubber meets the road. What are the successful outcomes of the role? Why does this job exist? There are usually three to five Key Accountabilities. They are ranked in order of importance, not necessarily the time required to accomplish them. There should be sufficient detail to clearly define each Key Accountability, but you do not need to explain how each is to be accomplished. Only what the successful outcome looks like.

Key Accountabilities get more specific and task-oriented the lower in the organizational chart you go. They get more general in nature the higher the position in the organizational chart. For instance, a K.A. for a CEO might be: Meet the strategic objectives of the organization. A K.A. for an auto mechanic might be: Perform, at a minimum, 10 state inspections a day.

Position Specific Standards

These are requirements that are specific to the role and warrant mentioning. They could be educational requirements, industry certifications required to perform the role (and the time expectation to acquire the certification), driver’s licenses, transportation needs, physical needs, etc.

Company-wide Standards

The important tenants of the company’s standards are listed.

The Job Defined Agreement and defining roles well is the key to setting your company up for success.

Don’t leave your employees in the lurch by handing them a vague list of job duties. That won’t set them or your company up to win. Take the time to clearly define what you expect from each role and then empower your employees to deliver those results.

Eure Consulting