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Get Rid of Your Job Descriptions

Written by Preston True on October 6, 2016

Accountability Chart Employees Accountability

Underwater view of male swimmer in a pool with swim lanesA client reached out recently with the following:

“Stacy and I are planning to have a ‘difficult’ conversation with Joe tomorrow. His performance is leaving a lot to be desired. I suspect he will be surprised. We plan to talk in terms of core values, capabilities and accountabilities, but acknowledge that Stacy and I may have created some of this problem by stepping in and assuming some of his responsibilities (rather than holding him accountable). He may be in the wrong seat and, as we define the seats on the Accountability Chart, he may be better suited for a different role. Did we screw up?”

The final question can only be answered by my client, but the scenario is a common one for many organizations.

Use Functional Roles, Not Job Descriptions


Bottom line, it’s really about creating an organization in which everyone is clear in what “lane” they're best suited to swim, and are going to create the greatest value for the company. Each of us is responsible for swimming in our respective lanes—but as the leadership team, we must create the lanes first.

Lanes in an EOS-powered company can be defined as the functional “seats” in which folks will sit. Collectively, these seats are defined by an Accountability Chartbut, more specifically, by the five Roles & Responsibilities of an individual seat. 

Let’s take the Sales seat for a moment. Most companies have a job description for this seat, but that job description is frequently created from a wish list of skills, not the core functional attributes that can easily be tied to the performance of the company. Said simply, most job descriptions detail the generic attributes of an ideal candidate, but rarely specify the roles and responsibilities that directly lead to organizational growth.

Example of common sales job description:

  • Service existing accounts / obtain orders
  • Adjust content of sales presentations
  • Study existing / potential volume
  • Keep management informed
  • Monitor competition

Example of sales roles and responsibilities:

  • LMA (effective leadership + effective management = high levels of accountability)
  • Sales / revenue goals accountability
  • Selling / sales production
  • Sales planning / execution
  • Sales process / consistency of results

The second list of bullets may seem too general, but look at it through this lensthey are “end results” of the first set of bullets. In other words, “service existing accounts / obtain orders” is really in service of meeting “Sales / Revenue Goals.”

Measuring Success in Each Role

I’ll argue all day long that I’m “servicing existing accounts / obtaining orders” when I call my clients regularly, and have them say they’ll place an order. If you measure me only on those items, then I’m doing my job. But when those efforts fail to produce actual revenue, it’ll be more difficult for you to hold me accountable for what you’re truly seeking: an increase in revenue.

When we take this back to my client’s situation, if they failed to clearly define the sales roles and responsibilities in the language of results, they will forever struggle to accurately measure whether Joe is in the right seat or not.

How Are You Doing?

In your next leadership team meeting, distinguish the 3-4 primary functions of your business (e.g. ,sales, marketing, operations, or finance).  Outline the five roles and responsibilities (ideal end results) for one of those functions. Only after doing those two exercises should you assess whether you have the right person in that particular seat or not.

Michael Phelps has won 23 gold medals to datenot because he was allowed to swim all over the pool, but in large part because the lanes and results were clearly distinguished before he dove in.

To learn more about where you may have opportunities to increase accountability and results, invest 5-7 minutes in the EOS Organizational Checkup and discover where to start.

Next Steps

Define Your Company Structure

This article originally appeared on the True Point Advisors blog on September 19, 2016.


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