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Benefits of Defined Roles and Responsibilities in Your Business

Benefits of Defined Roles and Responsibilities in Your Business.

When startup businesses begin to achieve a measure of success, it becomes necessary to start adding structure to the way in which the business is managed. One of the areas that need special attention is human resources management and roles and responsibilities in particular.

I have discussed the recruitment and selection process in another article -( However, before you can recruit successfully, you need to clearly identify why you are hiring people and what you expect them to do after they are hired.

It is not sufficient to identify a bottleneck in the business and to look to recruit someone to relieve the pressure point. This type of short-term gap filling is clearly not a coherent business strategy. The process of defining a role in a business, and the responsibilities to be undertaken by a new hire, is best done before a bottleneck develops. In my opinion, this is best accomplished by using a template document similar to the one below.

Roles and Responsibilities Sample

Roles and Responsibilities Sample

The individual components of the template are as follows:

  • Job Title
  • Reporting Line
  • Job Role
  • Relevant Experience Required & Cultural Fit
  • Key Responsibilities
  • Personal Characteristics
  • Specific Objectives for the first 12 Months
  • Training & Educational Requirements to Ensure Success of Incumbent

Having well considered and defined roles and responsibilities makes it much easier to recruit and select the right candidates for your business. It also makes it clear to existing employees why a new recruit is required and what the expectations of the management team are. It has the added benefit of allowing existing employees to step up to the plate and apply for roles that interest them, or ones that represent career growth for them.

So why are there so many different elements to the template? Let us consider each one in turn.

Job Title is really important because it will reflect the seniority of the position while clearly identifying where the incumbent fits into the existing or new organizational structure.

Reporting Line cannot be ambiguous. There should be a single person to whom each employee reports. Many businesses make the mistake of having certain employees or managers reporting to several different bosses. This causes disruption or chaos and encourages divided or confused loyalties. Avoid this at all costs.

Job Role is meant to be a summary of the high level requirements of the job. The day-to-day responsibilities come a little bit later. It might be seen as an elevator pitch for the incumbent when asked by anyone what they do for a living.

Relevant Experience describes what a candidate must bring to the job in terms of career history, specific attributes and qualifications required of the job holder, as well as how they need to match with the existing business and company culture. Take temperament into account and never under-estimate the importance of matching with company culture. Getting this wrong is frequently the cause of costly mis-hires.

Key Responsibilities are a defined list of all the specific areas for which the incumbent is responsible. Try to be as specific as possible while leaving room for amendments or expansion as the business or job role evolves.

Personal Characteristics describe the modus operandi and personality traits of the ideal candidate for the job. You must take the time to do this properly and avoid scripting it based on someone that already works in your business, unless they are doing the same job. Never try to fit a job description around a particular individual as this can cause a mis-match as you try to squeeze a square peg into a round hole.

Specific Objectives need to be a clear articulation of what you expect the incumbent to deliver during their first year in the business. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and set firmly on a time line. They should easily translate into a performance appraisal mechanism that is already in use in the business.

Training and Educational Requirements are a list of the programs that the incumbent must have gone through, or will go through, in order for them to be able to execute their role properly.

The sample template for a managing director shown above is for one particular business. Every business will be different and every element of the form should be reflective of the specific needs of your business, and should be customized to match your specific requirements.

If you don’t already use this type of document in your business, you need to seriously consider completing one for every job role that exists. Including your own role. It takes away ambiguity and gives each employee a sense of purpose and direction. It will also help to identify where redundancies exist in the business as well as areas of the business that are not well served. In essence, the full selection of all roles and responsibilities should match all of the activities carried out in your business at a macro level.

You can take this to the next level by developing workflow or business process maps that provide visual representation of everything that happens in your business. However, this topic is for another article.

Niall Strickland

By | 2017-06-01T12:14:25+00:00 January 1st, 2016|How's My Business Doing Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

Niall Strickland is CEO of and creator of HowsMyBusinessDoing online business analysis software. He is an MBA with 35 years of international business experience.

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