Defining Roles, Responsibilities And Objectives


When leaders build successful organisations they have taken great care to ensure that all job holders know exactly what is expected of them and that they have the skills, tools and resources to deliver on those expectations.

They also ensure that roles are synchronised with their own organisational processes – if there are process components or activities which are not allocated specifically to individual roles, they simply won’t get done. Conversely individual process components that are allocated to more than one job holder can cause confusion, duplication and role conflicts so need to be carefully thought through. There is a guide on a tool called RACI at the end of this Info Guide on how to do that

The output from documenting roles and responsibilities is usually called a Job Description, but there are many varieties and designers will learn from this Info Guide how to create them without!

Where do I start?

The easiest place to start is to create a list of the key activities that you want done in a given role – that list will come in part from the organisation’s structure, in part from the organisation’s processes and in part from your own thoughts about what you think is important for the role.

That list should be written down, modified as you think about the role in greater depth and then converted into a pie-chart which also reflects the approximate amount of time you think should be allocated to each part of the role. After some reflection, you might end up with something like this….


This pie-chart outlines the five major parts of the role and these major parts are called Key Results Areas (KRAs) – the name says exactly where you want the job holder to focus.

When writing down a KRA make sure:

  • It is from one to four words long.
  • It has no directional indicators (increase, reduce, etc.).
  • It has no quantities or time specified.

The distribution of KRAs will vary over time, should number between five and eight and the mix of operational, supervisory and managerial work will vary according to the job you want doing. Further guidance on this is outlined below.

In addition, you should attach a statement to the pie chart which describes the purpose of the job – an indicator to the job holder of why the job exists at all. Some commentators think you should do this before you create the pie chart, but many find it easier to do it afterwards.

In start-up organisations, a job purpose statement and a pie chart may be sufficient to get things going and no further work will be immediately necessary. But sooner or later, further clarification of each of the KRAs will be necessary and that is where objective setting fits in.

Objective Setting

Objective Setting is at the heart of performance management and can not take place until the KRAs are in place. Once in place, objectives define precisely what is required from any given Key Result Area.

When considering the performance and contribution of any job holder a manager will look at both the KRA statement and the objective, so both are read together.

Hallmarks of Good Objectives

First of all, the objectives should serve as a forecast of the results we can reasonably expect to see in the upcoming time period and should accurately reflect the major contributions the job holder is expected to make.

Secondly, an objective is stated as a desired end result. It defines what is to be achieved rather than how – describing not activity but rather the end result of activity.

Thirdly, objectives should always focus on the most important business result needed from the job holder, not simply the easiest to measure. Even though it is vital for objectives to cover the most important results required of the job holder it is not necessary to set objectives for all key result areas. However, job holders are responsible for all aspects of the job, not just the areas covered by objectives.

Finally, objectives need to be both realistic and attainable if we really expect job holders to follow through.

As an aide memoire remember SMART – objectives should be specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time based. There are two examples of well-constructed objectives at the end of this Info Guide.

Managerial Key Result Areas

There are six types of managerial KRA…

  1. Special Projects. Special projects are those one-off assignments that have little to do with routine job function.
  2. Personal Development. This type of managerial KRA highlights the importance of continuing development of personal, technical and managerial skills.
  3. Team-working. This involves the manager (with or without his/her team) working together with other teams inside the organisation to improve working interfaces and relationships.
  4. Innovation as a managerial KRA relates to the practice of continuous improvement.
  5. This KRA reflects the responsibility of a manager to ensure the work unit for which he/she is responsible is operating efficiently.
  6. Staff performance. This is one of the most important of the managerial KRA’s.

Job Specific Key Result Areas

These will be functionally and occupationally specific and are best identified uniquely for individual managers and job holders. Guidance on the areas that might be considered can be found on the last page of this Info Guide and from professional bodies and institutes.



An illustration for objectives for each of the Sales Manager’s key result areas.

Key Result Area : Achievement of Sales and Order Targets

*      To achieve customer order quota of £XXXK reflecting a minimum mix of products A 10%,B 15% and C 30% by year end.

*      To secure supply agreements or their equivalent from three of the top ten accounts by year end.

Key Result Area : Account Administration Processes

*      To provide an 18 month sales plan for each of the top ten accounts highlighting board level involvement, on the following schedule: two by January 31 and October 31; and three by April 30 and August 31.

*      To file 95% of all call reports within 5 working days of a customer visit, maintaining an active follow up log for the year.

Key Result Area : Sales Forecasts

*      To provide a monthly 30-60-90 day forecast by the Monday of the last week in each fiscal month, which identifies major incoming orders and is accurate to within plus/minus 10%.

Key Result Area : Customer Satisfaction

*      To achieve an average customer satisfaction survey index of .67 for the year.

Key Result Area : Expenses

*      To control expenses to 4.7% of sales for the year.

Key Result Area : Sales Staff

*      To reduce turnover to 9% and ensure no sales position to be vacant more than 45 days for the year.

*      To ensure that at least one “off job” development plan outlined on the previous year’s appraisal is completed for each sales representative by December 31.


An illustration of objectives for the Industrial Engineer’s key result areas.

Key Result Area : Process Performance

*      To develop and implement an engineering study on the impact of Just In Time on through put, product cost and resources (i.e., capital equipment, floor space, people) by February 15.

*      To reduce through put of pack assembly by 20% (from 10 to 8 working days) by October and maintain that rate through the year.

Key Result Area : Equipment Layout and Workflow

*      To determine equipment requirement for the new XIL product line and ensure that the equipment is operational by June 30.

*      To identify and resolve at least one bottle-neck operation in manufacturing flow which results in an increase in production rate from 50K to 60K by year end.

Key Result Area : Expertise to Manufacturing Management

*      To reduce by September 18 the direct cost of the Alpha product by 10%.

*      To increase machine utilisation in sub-assembly by 8% by year end without adversely impacting cost.

Key Result Area : Time Standards

*      To determine methods of measuring indirect labour productivity of the receiving department and develop recommendations that are approved by the Manager, Engineering by the third quarter.

Key Result Area : Cost Analysis of Design Changes

*      No specific objectives.

Key Result Area : Coordinate Engineers/Technicians

*      To improve teamwork on ongoing projects by allocating at least 15% of my time per week to coordinate of activities of engineers and technicians.




Step 1 – Write down all of the tasks you need doing for a given process or project and place them into a column in an Excel worksheet

Step 2 – Write down all of the roles that contribute in some way to a given process or project and place them into the top line in an Excel worksheet

Step 3 – Annotate each of the boxes on the spreadsheet with one or more of four letters….

R – stands for Responsible and means that this role is responsible for this task; there must be at least one role responsible, although other roles can be delegated to assist in the work required

A – stands for Accountable and means answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task – an accountable role must sign off work and there can only be one such role

C – stands for Consulted and means those go-to roles when opinions are sought, typically held by subject matter experts and with whom there is two-way communication.

I – stands for Informed and means those roles that are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable and with whom there is one-way communication


Source: Wikipedia

Step 4 – Update the matrix on a regular basis and let job holders know

Copyright: © Clive Weston, The Hartwell Consultancy, 2020

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