Do your Position Descriptions add value or are they just a fancy To Do List

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The other day I was with a CEO and she asked my opinion on a Position Description that had been prepared for a new role being created within her organisation. After reviewing it my candid response was that it was a very comprehensive To Do List however it lacked many key focus areas anyone coming into this position needed.

There are as many views around about position description as there are templates to create them, and I am going to share one approach that has stood the test of time for over twenty years because it sets out simply and clearly what is expected of the person who accepts the particular position.

Position Purpose: Combine in a single sentence why this position is required.

Character: Describe the qualities expected of the person in this position. It is worth remembering that character is judged by a leader’s actions not words.

Key Results Areas: Key Result Areas or KRAs are key phrases that answer what the core areas of focus are for the position. KRAs relate to the position not to the person.

Outcome Statements: The outcome statement explains what must be achieved to ensure success in each KRA. It is usually a single sentence containing an Action Verb + End Result + a link to the business.

Measures: Simple statements that describe how progress and ultimate success in the position will be measured.

Activities: A list of key points that outline the activities that must be undertaken in order to achieve what is described in the outcome statement.

Limits to Authority: This is the one area that is most frequently missing in position descriptions. Limits to authority are essential if a leader is to be held accountable for decisions made and outcomes achieved.

Limits to authority outline the limits of what resources (people, time, budget, materials) a leader can commit to investing on the behalf of the company. It differs from authority levels in that boundaries are set beyond which investment cannot occur without further involvement of someone with higher authority.

Performance Goals: Performance goals are connected to delivery and achievement of some agreed end point, they are not predictions. Performance goals cover what has to be done, the result that has to be achieved and the measures to be used to assess the result. They are created participatively and relate to an agreed period e.g. one year.

The more specific and focused a position description is, the more the leader is able to act autonomously and the easier it is to reach agreement on specific accountabilities in relation to their role. Invest time to really think about what people need in order for them to be able to do their best work, to make a meaningful contribution to organisational outcomes and further develop the career to which they aspire.


Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.

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