Role Profiles – the Building Blocks of Organisational Development & Strategy

Over the past couple of years, I have been privileged to partner with numerous clients in their quest to get their organisational Role Profiles written, up-to date, and ready to add practical and strategic value to the company.


What has struck me is how few companies give this document the time and credit it is due. Profiling is often a desk-top exercise that occurs without stakeholder engagement, consideration for the strategy and departmental objectives or organisational structure. Many profiles are written for specific employees, contain irrelevant or unrealistic content, or span a number of themes of work complexity – thereby blurring or diluting the role’s core focus. Too few companies rely on best practice principles and frameworks to underpin their profiling process (e.g. role families, output and competency libraries, Themes of Work, Requisite Organisation, a standardised online system) and in so doing, undermine the myriad of Management and HR processes that hinge on a first-class job/role profile. When profiles are hurriedly and thoughtlessly compiled, recruitment, employee engagement, remuneration and grading, talent and succession management are but a few of numerous processes that will be compromised. Most importantly however, a poor profile (or the lack of one) will obstruct directed, cohesive, collaborative work-flow throughout the organisation.

A best practice role profile:
  • Is drafted collaboratively, based on input and insights from incumbents and their managers
  • Is determined by organisational strategy and is clearly connected to the overall Departmental responsibilities, dividing these across individual roles whilst accounting for the theme of work complexity that each position will need to successfully navigate
  • Enables employees to clearly understand their purpose in the team from where they can create unique value-add for the organization. Each individual will thus understand the work above, accept accountability for the work at their own level and be able to articulate the work below
  • Communicates an accurate, realistic, current picture of what a job is expected to deliver
  • Is one step that forms part of logical career path when viewed in departmental context
  • Balances accountability and authority
  • Clarifies the job’s discretionary space: interrelationships / interdependencies between jobs are appropriate and boundaries between roles are clear
  • Defines the key inputs and outputs of a role, how they will be measured and what competencies are required to deliver successfully: clear job accountabilities (KPA’s) linked to clear measures (KPI’s)
  • Enables fair grading and remuneration
  • Describes the role, not the person
  • Is unambiguous and can be understood and interpreted similarly by new entrants, existing incumbents and managers

When aligned to Themes of Work complexity, using Requisite Organisation as a framework on which to “hang” each job, this tool takes on an entirely greater meaning and adds value, structure and clarity of purpose that transcends “what must I do” and links every individual’s deliverables and accountability to achieving organisational goals and strategy.

Ultimately, jobs exist to achieve the organisational mission. Being mindful of how they are designed, communicated and used can only pay off for everyone!

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