Role Clarity / Job Descriptions

Poorly defined or conflicted roles in organizations can be a stressor for workers. Poor role definition arises from a lack of clarity in workers objectives, key accountabilities, their co-workers’ expectations of them and the overall scope or responsibilities of their job.


  • Strives to let people know what it is that they are accountable for doing
  • Communicates whether or not, and potentially how, the organization cares to influence tasks
  • Should give a picture of what ‘success’ looks like
  • Should look at how any given role will interface with interdependent roles
  • Should ‘fit’ your business strategy
  • Provides better input to the other human capital alignment levers, tools and decisions
  • Should be done with a fair bit of rigor
  • Typically requires input from people ‘doing’ the role
  • Needs an independent review
  • Describes ‘needs’ vs. ‘desires’
  • Should be conscious of ‘padding’
  • Is helped by a strong job evaluation methodology
  • Provides a critical link to corporate governance


Managing Role Clarity

  • Provide all workers with an introduction to the organization and a job description to ensure that workers are aware of their role within their immediate work team or unit, program area, and the broader organization.
  • Develop and maintain a working environment where workers are consulted and can provide feedback on changes impacting on their job tasks.
  • Implement a performance management system, where workers receive regular feedback on jobs well done and any areas for improvement.
  • It is important workers feel confident and capable of undertaking new or revised tasks. Make sure they receive enough training for them to be competent in their roles.


Role Conflict

Role conflict occurs when workers are given two different and incompatible roles at the same time, or their role overlaps with another worker or work group. The greater the role conflict, the higher the likelihood of a worker experiencing occupational stress.


Managing Role Conflict

  • Avoid placing inconsistent demands on workers and ensure that as much as possible the different requirements are compatible.
  • Have clear reporting relationships so that workers know who they are directly accountable to.
  • Avoid making workers accountable to more than one immediate supervisor to reduce potential conflict in work demands.
  • Ensure systems are in place to enable workers to raise concerns about any conflicts they have in their role and responsibilities. For example, hold regular team meetings to enable workers to discuss any potential role conflict.
  • Avoid assigning roles to workers that conflict with their personal needs and values.
  • Implement a performance management system, where workers receive regular feedback on jobs well done and any areas for improvement.


Contact us to discuss learning how to begin building better role clarity within your organization and how best to introduce performance management.

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