The Power of Defining Roles in the Workplace

Sinead Lennon-Smith

Teamwork makes the dream work. And nothing kills office vibe faster than an empty motivational quote.

Everyone knows the value of teamwork to an organisation. We’ve seen enough slogans on mugs, posters and training-day paraphernalia to last a lifetime. However, the importance of role definition in creating that team is so often overlooked. Together Everyone Achieves More - unless no-one knows what they’re supposed to be doing.

Consciously defining each person’s role, their responsibilities and success criteria within the team can have an instant positive impact. It ensures that:

  1. Everyone knows what they’re doing. It sounds simple, but when roles are clear, people know what’s expected of them, how to behave and what they need to accomplish. Plus, if they can see the importance of their contribution to the group’s overall success then they’re granted an extra motivational edge.
     

  2. Everything gets done. In high pressure environments, under tight deadlines, tasks slip through the cracks. This is especially true for the undesirable jobs which no-one wants! When everyone knows their responsibilities, as well as those of others, there is greater accountability, making sure nothing gets forgotten.
     

  3. People cooperate more effectively. There’s less conflict and ‘political’ manoeuvring when desirable, high profile tasks are equally distributed, or tracked to make sure they’re not handed to the same person time after time. Also, individuals have far more respect for colleagues when they can see the vital part they play in the group’s overall success. A respectful environment is more positive, collaborative and creative.
     

  4. Communication is improved. Not just improved - reduced, which is key. Think back to your last week at work. How many emails were sent and phone calls made to check what was being done, who was doing it and when it was due? Imagine the extra energy you’d be able to commit to other, more important tasks.

So, the benefits of role definition are clear. But how do we reach this Nirvana of an efficient, focused workforce? Well, it’s not as ominous a task as you might think.

The first step is simple. Look at what you have and work out what you need. This can be done by making a straightforward list of the people at your organisation. Then create a second list detailing the roles and tasks your organisation performs. You’ll see where you have a surplus or shortfall of expertise, then be able to add or reduce where necessary.

Secondly, make sure every person you hire meets strictly defined criteria for their role, using a position description like the following:

  • Job Description: more than an official title or designation, this sums up the tasks, functions and responsibilities of whoever holds the position.
  • Tasks or Functions: a detailed and specific rundown of the employee’s activities.
  • Roles or Responsibilities: an outline of the expected results associated with the position.
  • Competencies: the skills, capabilities and capacity to fulfil the responsibilities of the role.
  • Experience and Education: a consideration of the background required to gain the competencies of the position.
  • Performance Management and Indicators: an explanation of how the employee will be evaluated with respect to their performance. For example, what are the metrics used? And what are the key performance targets?

These position attributes will ensure your new team members know exactly what they need to accomplish, making them far more likely to deliver to their potential.

For more help finding the ideal candidate to enhance your organisation, get in touch with the KennedyPearce team at london@kennedypearce.com