Some of the challenges associated with traditional job descriptions is they capture roles, accountability, and requirements, as they are known at the time the description is written. As a general rule they are not directly linked to the organizations vision, mission, objectives, and metrics. If we are to maintain descriptors of the work should they (at a minimum) -

  • Connect the work to the mission, vision, goals, and metrics?
  • Be future focused, describing the work as aspirational?
  • Include the collaboration required to achieve results?

If you believe the answers are yes, then perhaps your organization should consider what I am going to call “Success Profiles."

As HR organizations continue evolving toward a focus on organizational performance, it is critical to consider how we as HR professionals “engineer" our organizations for success. Creating Success Profiles as a part of an organizational transformation or reorganization can bring needed clarity to staff and managers who often struggle to connect to the broader vision. A key distinction between the traditional job description and the Success Profile is that the staff takes the lead in writing their Success Profile in collaboration with their colleagues and managers. It is not solely a HR driven initiative.

The blueprint below is a basic skeletal outline of a process that can be expanded to meet the unique needs of your organization.

Step One

The business unit head translates the organization's objectives into several components of her/his particular role. For example -

  • The critical competencies for success in her/his role
  • The critical accountabilities for which she/he is responsible
  • The key metrics used to measure the accountabilities
  • The accountabilities shared with colleagues and peers
  • The enterprise wide leadership behaviors

Here is a sample of how a profile could be constructed.

Step Two

The business unit leader shares her/his Success Profile with their team and has a detailed discussion of each corporate objective. This is a cascaded process, beginning with the Executive Team, cascading to their direct reports, etc.

Step Three

Each team member creates her/his own profile. This is key because each team member understands best their unique role and how it intersects with various stakeholders.

Step Four

When every team member has completed their profile they are individually presented at a facilitated workshop. This is a key step. The profiles are built individually but the team calibrates them. This is where conflicts, ambiguities, and inconsistencies can be resolved. The output of the workshop is that each participant has a completed charter that supports the enterprise, contains individual and collaborative accountability, leadership behaviors and metrics.

Final thoughts

The Success Profiles are living documents and as such their should be a built in review process and time line that is comfortable for the organization. Rather than create what may be perceived as “new work" for the organization, it is optimal to build this process into any reorganization or transformation effort.

When defining the accountability, focus on the critical few.

Finally, we did not touch on a component that should be carefully considered. What is the level of independent authority granted to each person? Think about it in terms of the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed). Depending on the organizational dynamics it could prove very useful to include in the Success Profile what the individual “owns", “influences", or has “veto power" over.

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