Write Down Your Roles, Responsibilities, and Expectations

Most of us are probably accustomed to thinking about our work in terms of “job titles” and “job descriptions.” If someone asks me what I do, I tell them I’m a controller. If I were to create a description of my job I might start with the purpose, then list duties, and round it off with skills and qualifications.

Another way to think about jobs and work is with the concept of “roles, responsibilities, and expectations (RR&E’s).” These are explained in The Science of Success by Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, Inc.

RR&E’s are intended to “define general areas of responsibility and accountability.” Koch explains, “A person is accountable if he or she will bear the consequences (good or bad) of a decision. Both the person making the decision and the person delegating are held accountable” (p. 129).

Supervisors are expected to ensure that RR&Es maximize the employees’ contributions to the organization. Importantly, employees must take ownership to “ensure his or her RR&Es are current, accurate, and effective” (p. 129). No matter what type of management style exists in your organization, it is wise to take ownership of your role and your broader career development and progress.

Koch defines roles, responsibilities, and expectations, as follows:

  • “A role is a description of the position held and the functions performed by an individual” (p. 129).
  • “Each role has an associated bundle of responsibilities. These responsibilities clearly define the products, services, assets or processes for which we are accountable” (p. 130).
  • “Expectations are written statements specifying the results required of an employee if the business is to achieve its objectives” (p. 130).

A potential employer would expect to see your resume if you were applying for a job. Similarly, you should expect, at least in general terms, a written description of the potential roles, responsibilities, and expectations for the job you are thinking of pursuing. That way you can determine whether you have the appropriate skill sets and whether the role fits with your career plan and goals. New hires should work their their supervisors and take ownership of the job by documenting their specific RR&Es within the business.

Koch says, “Expectations should always be clear, specific, and whenever possible, measurable” (p. 130). They should challenge employees to take ownership, reach higher, and be creative.

Get it in writing. Just as agreements, goals, mission and vision statements, and policies should be documented in writing; an employer should come to a mutual understanding and document the roles, responsibilities, and expectations with each employee.