The One-Page Role Description [Free Tool]

Clear role descriptions improve employee performance and organizational success. Use our one-page worksheet to define authority, accountabilities, and responsibilities for your roles.

Role clarity is a major contributing factor to job performance.

Most people don’t have the role clarity they want (and need) in order to be successful at work. Clear role descriptions help everyone in a company understand their responsibilities, accountabilities, and authority.

This one-page Role Description worksheet helps you create and maintain role clarity across your organization with 5 key questions:

  1. What decision-making authority comes with the role?
  2. What measurable outcomes is the role accountable for?
  3. What are the role's responsibilities?
  4. What skills and values are important for success?
  5. How is this role connected to the organization?

Role Description Image (with border)Continue reading below to learn how to use the form and the philosophy behind the tool.

Go ahead and download the form so you can follow along:

How to Use the Form

Step 1: Role Title

The role title should accurately reflect the primary function of the position within the organization. Consider using an industry-standard title to make it easier for both internal and external stakeholders to understand the role's scope and level of responsibility. A clear and consistent use of role titles across the organization helps maintain a well-structured hierarchy and facilitates communication.

Step 2: Reports To

Clearly identify the role's direct supervisor or manager to establish a clear chain of accountability. This information helps employees understand their place within the organizational structure and who they should approach for guidance, feedback, and decision-making support.

Step 3: Summary

Provide a concise overview of the role's purpose, highlighting its key contributions to the organization. Focus on the value the role adds to customers, the business, and other stakeholders to emphasize its importance and align it with the company's overall goals and objectives. A well-crafted summary helps attract the right talent and sets the tone for the rest of the role description.

Step 4: Authority

Clearly define the role's decision-making powers to empower employees and minimize confusion or delays in critical processes. Prioritize the most important decisions and limit the list to maintain clarity and focus. Even though most decisions involve collaboration, it helps to establish a single point of authority.

Step 5: Accountability

Outline the specific outcomes and results the role is responsible for delivering to ensure employees understand their impact on the organization's success. Prioritize the most critical accountabilities and keep the list concise to maintain focus and clarity. Emphasize outcomes that are within the role's control to set realistic expectations and maintain a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Step 6: Measurable Outcomes

Define quantifiable performance indicators to help employees understand how their success will be evaluated and to provide a basis for setting goals and targets. Focus on currently measurable outcomes to ensure the role description remains practical and actionable. Align these measurable outcomes with the company's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to reinforce the role's connection to the organization's overall strategy.

Step 7: Responsibility

List out specific tasks that the role is responsible for completing or performing regularly. These responsibilities should capture repetitive or periodic tasks.

Step 8: Skills

Identify the key skills and competencies required for successful performance in the role to guide employee development and training efforts. Focus on areas where improved mastery can significantly enhance job performance and contribute to the organization's success. Use this information to create targeted development plans that help employees grow and advance within the company.

Step 9: Values

Highlight the core values and principles that should guide the role's approach to decision-making and problem-solving. Clearly communicate which values are non-negotiable and may result in disciplinary action if violated or recognition if exemplified. Reinforcing the organization's values through role descriptions helps create a cohesive and purpose-driven culture.


Our Philosophy on Role Descriptions

Role Titles

Role Titles denote a person's level of authority and accountability within the company. While individuals may carry various unrelated responsibilities, they will only have one Role Title that reflects their primary function.

Each Role Title exists to perform certain work and make specific decisions. Decisions can only be made by one person, though that person is expected to rely on others' insights and perspectives to aid their decision-making.

Organization Chart Accountability

Connections on an organizational chart denote lines of accountability, such that each person in the organization is accountable to one other person, and each person with direct reports has responsibility for the performance and development of their direct reports.

While the organizational chart depicts lines of accountability, it should not constrain communication within the company because it does not denote lines of communication. In fact, people with direct reports should be encouraging and facilitating cross-departmental collaboration.

(I have a lot more to say about organization charts that I'll leave out of this post. Here's another article, if you're interested in knowing why I think they should be inverted: Invert Your Org Chart For A Fresh Perspective On Leadership.) 

Role Description vs. Job Description

Role Descriptions are for internal use and are intended to reflect the expectations of that role. A Role Description captures the level of authority, accountability measures, and typical responsibilities associated with the role. It becomes the basis for objectives, key results, and performance measures.

Conversely, Job Descriptions are used externally for recruiting purposes. They summarize the essential responsibilities, activities, qualifications, and skills for a role, providing a realistic job preview to candidates and enabling effective screening of applications or searches by recruiters.

Primary Managerial Titles

Where possible, a consistent use of managerial titles should be used throughout the organization and across departments -- exceptions being very rare. For example, to meet the needs of a mid-sized organization's growth strategy and to limit unnecessary layers, constrain yourself to no more than four managerial titles:

CEO > Director > Manager > Team Lead

These titles reflect increasing levels of authority in the performance of other people and business outcomes.

Managerial roles exist to connect individuals to the company's vision, strategy, and objectives. To ensure high-quality connections, managers should have from 3-12 direct reports, and responsibilities should be delegated such that a manager is able to focus on their primary objective of improving employee performance. (We cover this responsibility in detail during our New Manager Fundamentals 12-week course.)

Managerial roles must have a clear benefit to the business and only exist to meet business objectives.

Implementing a clear and consistent organizational structure is essential for the growth and success of your company. By defining role titles, establishing a clear organizational structure, and creating role descriptions, you can ensure that every employee understands their responsibilities and how they contribute to the overall goals of the organization.

To help you achieve this, we've developed a one-page Role Description form that simplifies the process of creating role descriptions. Our tool will help you outline a role's authority, accountability, measurable outcomes, responsibilities, skills, and values. 

Download your copy here:

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