Implement This Today: Why Every Company Needs Role Guides

Image via 99U
Image via 99U

Understanding Role Guides

A Role Guide is an internal document that covers every key expectation for a specific role:

  • Overview: A glimpse into the day-to-day of this role, including potential regular tasks.
  • Personality: A description of the type of person most likely to succeed in the role.
  • Responsibilities: Overarching responsibilities of the role.
  • Expectations: Performance triggers that signal increase — or decrease — leadership confidence in someone’s performance in the role.
  • Qualifications: Any necessary qualifications for the person in the role.
  • Compensation: Overview of compensation structure.

Where a Role Guide fits into the business

Think of the Role Guide as a reference point for every stage in the employee lifecycle.

  • Interview guides and rubrics for the hiring process.
  • Onboarding and 30 / 60 / 90 day performance plans for new employees.
  • 1-on-1 meetings and performance check-ins with managers.
  • Larger performance reviews, salary negotiations, and promotion conversations.
  • Making the case to let someone go or having a mutual parting of the ways during the off-boarding process.

Creating Role Guides retroactively

This type of document is ideally created before the hire is made, but can also be created retroactively for existing teams.

  • More opportunity for employees to innovate since outcome expectations are set.
  • The role will be easier to hire for in the future because you’ll know what is expected.
  • Role Guides have to apply to every role — up to and including the CEO.
  • There’s a chance that a Role Guide might conflict with existing documents, rubrics, and templates your company uses. Be aware of this and augment those documents to ensure continuity and consistency.

The key to Role Guides: flexibility and collaboration

When designing your Role Guides, make sure that managers understand it’s intended to be a living document. If a stellar candidate doesn’t 100% match the Role Guide, it doesn’t mean they won’t be successful at your company. Or if the role evolves with the person you hire, don’t hold them back by expecting full adherence to the guide — you have to leave room for creativity and innovation. Ultimately, this guide provides a kickstart, cheat sheet, and foundation for manager-employee collaboration, but not a rule cast in stone.

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