If you and your new employee don’t have a shared understanding of what they are responsible for, they likely won’t stay nearly as long as you’d like.

There is so much room for misunderstanding too! What does it mean to be a [insert just about any job title here] at your company? Getting on the same page starts with what you do before you hire.

Step 1 – Title vs. Role

Get clear that there is a difference between a title and a role. A role is directly tied to the area responsibility held. In a small company most titles are associated with 1-5 roles. For instance, the title Operations Manager could have multiple roles associated with it.

Example: The position Operations Manager at ABC, Co. is responsible for: Project Management Support, Customer Relations Manager, HR Support, Financial Data Manager, and Operations Manager.

Step 2 – Statement of Role Responsibility

Clearly articulate the responsibilities of each role.. Many people think of holding these roles as the “hats they wear”. Regardless of what you call it, this is a high level statement to get clarity on the broad area of responsibility.

Example: HR Support – responsible for managing HR processes as they relate to hiring and onboarding. This responsibility statement works if someone else in the company has responsibility for HR as a whole.

Step 3 – Metrics for Success

Set measurable metrics for success for each position (and it’s associated roles). Defining which measurements indicate success will allow both you and your employee to check in and adjust when goals for metrics are not being met or indeed exceeded.

Example: For the  Operations Manager at ABC, Co. the metrics might include customer satisfaction ratings, financial reporting timeliness and accuracy, % completion of to dos, and employer satisfaction ratings.

Step 4 – Communication

Ensure that a mechanism for two-way communication exists around each position. How frequently do you engage your employees in open conversation about responsibility without having to talk about actual performance? Is the design of roles to titles appropriate for the business? Are the metrics appropriate?

The more you share your interpretations and expectations, the more your employees will be able to measure their own success, report it to you, and suggest changes to improve performance for themselves. In a well run operation, self accountability is the larger part of what affects efficiency and effectiveness.

What’s Next

Think about the current titles and roles in your business.  Get each person to create their role responsibility. With your team’s participation they are more likely to own the responsibilities and become self accountable. Asking your team to be part of developing new position role responsibilities could significantly enhance the value of the work that will be done by your team and the new hire.

One last thought. There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows when we work on complex issues like position titles and their associated roles, the outcomes are far more effective when we take breaks and release our mind from the project at hand. Make this initiative to build self accountability an iterative one. The Zeigarnik Effect, a study by Alejandro llaris, The Exploration of Consciousness Research Institute on the link between meditation and problem solving, and so many more suggest that’s probably a smart move.

Do you know what roles you hold? Do your people know your roles?! Do you and all your people have a shared understanding of their role responsibilities?

If your answer to these questions is no, you probably spend a LOT of time holding people accountable.


M. Miche Rayment is the Founder and Chief Facilitator for The Hire Effect™. The Hire Effect’s clients learn how to use Role Responsibility Documents for themselves and how to be self accountable. TheHireEffect.com