The essential components of an effective role description

Title

Should:

  • Accurately summarize the position
  • Give an idea of the general duties and regular tasks (we call them KRAs - Key Results Areas)
  • Reflect the position and function of the role in relation to the overall organizational hierarchy

Should not:

  • Apply an inflated title (e.g. do not include “manager” in the title of someone who does not supervise others)

Role Summary

Should:

  • Be concise and tightly-written
  • Be only a paragraph or two
  • Provide an outline of the ultimate purpose of the position, the primary function of the employee, and how the role directly contributes to the organization’s objectives
  • Delineate how the role differs from other roles by highlighting specialized duties and expectations

Key Results Areas (KRAs)

Should:

  • Draw attention to only the essential duties and responsibilities.
    Note: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that role descriptions not exclude persons with disabilities due to their inability to perform non-essential tasks of a role; avoid running afoul of the ADA by clearly and explicitly identifying only the essential duties of a specific role. The ADA requires that for a task to be considered essential, the role should exist in order to accomplish the task, there are a limited number of other employees who could complete the task, and those individuals are hired for their specialized ability necessary to complete the task.
  • Be sure that everything is related to the job. Give serious and careful thought to what percentage of the role’s time will be dedicated to particular tasks, and refine the list of key duties to only the essentials
  • Be listed in order of importance or otherwise weighted
  • Explicitly state expectations
  • Include KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with specific measures for each Key Results Area

Qualifications

Should:

  • Note requirements for education level (e.g. college degrees and professional certifications). You may want to include disclaimers like “or equivalent experience” to encourage more applications.
  • Include requirements for experience (e.g. years, levels of expertise, and types)
  • Include requirements for competencies (e.g. communication skills, ability to collaborate)
  • Include requirements for specific knowledge (e.g. proficiency in a foreign language)
    Note: Again, be sure to comply with the ADA by including only essential qualifications for the role.

Role descriptions may not be referenced on a daily basis, yet they place a pivotal role in an organization’s daily operations. Further, in a performance management system like BLOOM® role descriptions are tightly integrated with performance reviews, goals, and tasks and form the backbone of the system. The bottom line is that writing effective role descriptions now will pay off in time, money, and company resources down the road. Learn how to write effective role descriptions and you will orient employees to the opportunities for the future.

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