Setting Roles Into Your Organization

Are job titles getting in the way of our professional growth? Are they just made up for appearances? Questions we answer in this article.

November 23, 2021

Setting Roles Into Your Organization

November 24, 2021

Old hierarchy has taught us – myself included – that big and pompous job titles are a statement of power. But what would happen if we got rid of job titles and transformed them into roles and clarified its accountabilities? 

In this article we’ll provide great tips on how to set roles and clarify accountabilities for each team member from an organization:
We’ll dive into:

  • What are job titles and how they get in the way of growth
  • What are roles, accountabilities and purpose 
  • A guideline on how to clarify/set roles within the organization

What are job titles and do they get in the way of growth?

If we search the meaning of what job titles are, we can find: “specific designation of a position within an organization, normally associated with a job description that details the tasks and responsibilities that go with it.” Having stated what entitles a job title and its description, how many of you have taken a job position because of its title and not because of its salary or because it would bring joy to your professional growth? 

I have –  guilty as charged! I have taken jobs with over-the-top titles just for the sake of looks and ego– thinking this would open doors and possibilities along the way. But was I really doing my job and what it required? Not really. Most of the time I was multi-tasking to get a mission done. Job titles can get blurry if the organization is not clear and proactive at clarifying roles and accountabilities from the very beginning.


According to an article, job titles are only validation cards of who we are “without having to explain what we do.” A survey done to 1,500 workers concluded that 70% of them would take a better job title over an increase in salary. And what does this show about our working culture and old hierarchy? It demonstrates how we place a big importance on appearances instead of personal/professional growth. We focus on how we will be perceived in the working industry, instead of what we actually bring to the table with skills and knowledge to complete the mission successfully. 

Anne-Laure Le Cunff tells her story in an article on how working at Google felt like, its expectations and she delves on how job titles can become a sign of vanity and appearances.  She states: “When I started working at Google, I was quickly introduced to the job ladder that has since become pervasive in the tech industry. Depending on your first job there, you get assigned to a particular ladder, with fixed accomplishments to demonstrate in order to climb to the next level.” Cunff continues: “They are like a checklist of accomplishments you need to demonstrate to your manager and to your peers. The problem with rubrics—beside the fact that many are badly designed—is that they encourage fitting a mould that doesn’t evolve with the ever-changing demands of the business. People end up doing what will look good rather than what’s actually good.”

So, does job titles limit our growth and block our potential with things we could do in an organization? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But if you think that job titles do block growth and potential, then you’ve come to the right place because up next we’re giving you the lowdown on how to move from job titles to roles and ways to clarify them.

What are roles, accountabilities and purpose?

Roles are said to represent the activities that perform in an organization. They are the building blocks of a company and each role is assigned to anyone within the organization. 

For example:

  • Content Specialist
  • Website Specialist
  • Public Relations

Accountabilities are the set of expectations that come with each role. 

For example:

  • Delivering a webinar each month
  • Delivering high-quality content each week
  • Engaging with the correct media for an impactful outcome

Purpose is the goal pursued and/or potential of the role to be completed within the organization. 

For example:

  • Enhance content visibility 
  • Attract/increase new prospects to the site 
  • Well-written content in two languages

And how does it work in Holacracy? 

A single person can fill multiple roles and a single role can be filled by multiple team members. 

However, these are points we should keep in mind when filling roles that come with a set of authorities:

  • Ownership to execute any action that the member sees fit in regards to the roles’ purpose and mission
  • Ownership to control/regulate any issue concerning your role/s

picture taken from Target Teal

So how do we set roles that are effective within your organization?

Clarifying roles and setting accountabilities are vital from the start for the assigned team member. This not only will enhance communication within the organization, but also, it will leave a clear path for your peer on what he/she must work on in the future. Also, this will enhance the team’s productivity level and performance. 

1. Clarify the role

You’d think it’s easy to just hand out roles and roles descriptions, but it really isn’t. When assigning a role/task to a team member, make sure the language is clear and easy to understand to anyone involved within the role. 

2. Explain the reason of the role

Giving a brief explanation as to why the role is important – could bring clarity and awareness to the person assigned to that specific role. Offering a quick overview as to why and how that specific role plays a vital part of the entire process and/or organization, could also help your peers into understanding for better performance.

3. Check for understanding of the role

Sometimes we think that our explanations and deliverance are clear for everybody – wrong! We all have different methods of understanding a certain task/role/objective, so make sure everyone is on the right path when it comes to role understanding. And how do we do that? Follow up with the team member, let them show you how their process is done, or perhaps let them know that you’re open to questions for further clarification. 

4. Explain priorities and responsibilities of the role

Roles as we mentioned above do come with a set of accountabilities, objectives, goals and so much more. When assigning it to a peer/s, make sure everything is set clear and transparent. Transparency is key for a team’s higher performance. Leave its priorities clear and discussed with the assigned member, so they can understand what is the end-goal of the role and everything that comes with it.

Here we can find Brian Robertson explaining what are roles and Governance:

How to keep your roles visible and structured with Holaspirit?

Every organization has different ways of clarifying roles, dealing with transparency and visibility amongst the entire team. However, maintaining a visible and visual board of where each team member stands within circles and responsibilities, only helps the organization to stay structured, self-managed with great communication. 

The clarification of the roles must make it possible to determine quite precisely who can make, which decision, and who is responsible when a decision is not followed or when actions are not implemented.

The home page Chart gives you a structure of your organization based on roles and circles. Your organization displays more or less circles and roles depending on its complexity.

Note: the size of the circle depends on the role's position in the hierarchy and the number of roles it contains.

How to navigate roles in your organization?

From the role menu, you will find all the roles documented for your organization.

From the chart menu, you can:

  • Click anywhere inside a circle (but not directly on a role) to zoom in and out of your chart.
  • You can navigate to all the roles in it. It will help you identify "who does what" in a clear way! Making it easy to understand how things work. To show the details of a circle or a role, simply move your mouse over the circle or role name and click on it – the information will slide out from the side.
  • To return to the Chart view, just click the "X" in the top-right corner.
  • Use the search and sorting option at the top right of your screen on the bottleneck to find what you're looking for directly on the chart.
  • Use the global search if you want to get a list of results

 

Check out how roles and its accountabilities work in a self-organization platform – book a demo!


WRITTEN BY

Sofia Graniello

Content Specialist

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I love writing and a good cup of green tea.