Are your people clear about what YOU want?
Strategic Issues

Are your people clear about what YOU want?

December 13, 2013

by Tony Vidler

One of the most challenging things for professionals today is working out job descriptions that accurately capture the key tasks and functions of a staff members position.  Often this is made all the more difficult because managers are not clear to begin with on what they wish their staff to achieve.

Creating an extensively detailed job description often doesn’t help too much.  Sure there is employment law in abundance that dictates how contracts must be structured, and best practice alone would suggest that there is a need for an accurate Job Description.  The problem with job descriptions though is they capture the minutiae…the daily humdrum tasks of a position….without providing clarity on what is actually important.  Often when hiring advisers to work with your firm there isn’t even a job description – there is simply a legal contract.  It is little wonder that there is often a gap between the principal of the firm’s expectations, and those of their key people.

A fabulous mantra to remember when hiring anyone and then trying to work out how to remunerate and motivate them is “you will get the behavior you reward“.

So what is the behavior you want?  How can that be captured in about 3-5 bullet points?


If you can capture your thoughts on what behavior you want it becomes very simple to write a “Role Description” – which is way different to a job description. A role description gives guidance and clarity about what the big and important things are. The Job Description really only provides explanation and guidance about how a staff member might go about executing the key functions.

An example of a very very long Role Description for an employed Financial Adviser might look like this

  • To secure (or exceed) $XXX in revenue per allocated client on average in a calendar year
  • Maintain (or exceed) 90% persistency level on the book.
  • Complete all service, sales and advice documentation to OUR minimum standards 100% of the time.
  • Deliver service – not just advice – to clients daily.
  • Run your part of the business as a business.
  • Enjoy yourself, and be a positive contributing member of the team

The point in having a clear role description that can be captured in a relatively small number of bullet points is that it creates clarity for everyone. There is no doubt what is valued.  There is no doubt how success will be measured.  There is no doubt about what elements of the role are the most important things.  Most importantly though it empowers your people to find creative ways to achieve the objectives. It liberates them to a degree from the detailed tasks of a Job Description.

To achieve higher levels of engagement and performance from your staff give them a clear role description.  If nothing else, they will be totally clear about you as a business owner want.


© 2013 Tony Vidler.  All rights reserved.
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