What’s Your Job, Really?

Whether you are an employee, the boss, or a self-employed professional, it’s important to know clearly what is your role. We typically define our roles using a formal or informal job description. And that is usually a longish list of tasks or “responsibilities” masquerading as tasks. This sort of job description offers you

  • Little certainty about what you should be doing or what in your role is more important. It’s just a list of tasks.
  • Difficulty finding common ground with bosses, staff, peers, or clients about what you will or won’t do.
  • No way to effectively manage, evaluate, support, or develop others because their roles are similarly confused.

Instead of a job description, use a relatively short list of key accountabilities. A key accountability is a high-level description of what it means to be successful in the role. Here is how to define a role, yours or any other’s, using key accountabilities.

  1. Write down your answers to these questions: “Why does this role exist?” “How will we know if the job has been done well?” Shoot for 3-5 statements. Make them measurable. Qualitative or quantitative measures are fine.
  2. Prioritize the statements. Which one can you get away with doing less well if you are doing the others very well?
  3. Assign a percentage of your work week to each statement. Note: you may spend most of your time on your least important key accountability and that’s fine. The percentages from all the key accountabilities should total 75 or 80 percent; the buffer is to account for down time and necessary work on non-key projects.

Try this for your role and then comment below. How would a small set of key accountabilities for your role help you?

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