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I understand what is meant by role clarity

Role clarity refers to the clear and accurate perception of roles, responsibilities, values, and processes at work. It is the degree to which employees have a clear understanding of the expectations and behaviors which are aligned with the goals of their jobs.

I am familiar with terminology closely related to role clarity

Role ambiguity

Role ambiguity is the opposite of role clarity.

The word ambiguity means inexact, or open to more than one interpretation.

Role expectations

Role expectations are the expectations of mastery, behaviour and priorities as articulated by the role assigner.

Role potential

Role potential is a clear understanding of what one needs to master better in order to be considered a proficient role practicioner.

Role mastery

Role mastery is a person's confidence in their ability to predictably achieving successful outcomes when practicing a role.

Role autonomy

Role autonomy is the experience of being able to execute the key responsibilities of a role without the need for external involvement.

Role conflict

Role conflict describes the conflicts that arise to confusion or disagreement about the boundries of role responsibilities and mandate.

Role fatigue

Role fatigue is the experience of practicing a role which does not match ones strengths, ambitions or potential.

Role fit

Role fit is the degree to which a role holder aligns with the intention of a role (as intended by the role assigner).
I know how role ambiguity impacts people differently depending on their role in the organization 3
  • Insecurity, confusion, and stress due to not knowing what is expected of them, where their responsibility begins and ends, and what risks they are supposed to manage
  • Frustration due to an unclear division of labor, which
    • increases the time needed to coordinate work
    • increases the likelihood of someone intruding on your turf
  • Imposter syndrome: Being concerned of being exposed as a bad worker, due to not knowing exactly what is expected and how to get better at the job
  • Injustice for the yes-employees due to lack of transparency about who does what, making it more difficult for employees and leaders alike to clearly recognize that some have taken on more responsibilities than others
  • Stagnation due to knowing how to improve at ones job
  • Disappointment for being buypassed for a role I belived I was capable of handling
  • Stress and overwhelm due to too many things competing for my attention, or for being assigned a role for which I am not yet ready
  • Frustrationconcern and sometimes anger due to people not doing work you expect them to, or how you expect them to do it
  • Tiredness or stress caused by taking on too much work yourself, or by running from task to task (fire to fire)
  • Annoyance caused by someone else encrouching on your responsibilities, leaving a gap of orphaned responsibilities between you, or or an inability to make decisions effectively because anyone can claim to have a say in anything
  • Guilt caused by
    • not sufficiently enabling people to do a great job
    • not having enough time for important, long term work
  • Shame when potential and new employees ask you to describe onboarding and developing opportunities
  • Nervousness associated with scaling for fear of losing control
  • Helplessness/hopelessness due to not being able to identify the tools needed to address root causes of problemss, which in turn would allow you to sleep better at night, have a better relationship with your family and have a general increase in quality of life
  • Inability to understand what exactly each person does and is expected to do within the organization, making it more difficult to:
    • Hold them accountable to their roles and responsibilities
    • Change or introduce new role expectations
    • Measure their performance in relation to their specific expectations
    • Pin-point which responsibilities and skills they should focus on in order to improve in their roles
    • Transfer their roles to others
    • Negotiate with them, and replace them, if neccessary
  • Suspicion that
    • Important responsibilities fall through the cracks (go unmanaged, or are not properly operationalized)
    • Important work is not done in the same way across the organization, which is a liability
    • Onboarding takes longer than neccessary
    • Productivity suffers due to rework, duplication of work or wasting time
  • Concern that
    • Best practices of how to execute within a role is not effectively shared across role holders
    • We don't know what people know (people learn about the organization through chinese whispers)
      • Are they actually familiar with what we expect from them?
      • Do they actually understand (and are comfortable with) our culture?
    • Important, non-urgent responsibilities don't get prioritized
I understand the relationship between role clarity and performance management

Role clarity and performance management are closely linked and have a significant impact on organizational effectiveness. Here's an explanation of their relationship:

Role Clarity: Role clarity refers to the extent to which individuals understand their roles, responsibilities, and expectations within an organization. It involves having a clear understanding of what tasks need to be performed, how they contribute to overall goals, and how success will be measured. When employees have role clarity, they have a clear understanding of their job requirements and can focus their efforts on fulfilling those responsibilities effectively.

Performance Management: Performance management is a systematic process that involves setting goals, providing feedback, and evaluating employee performance to improve individual and organizational performance. It aims to align individual objectives with organizational goals and create a performance-driven culture. Performance management typically includes goal setting, performance feedback, coaching, and performance appraisal.

Relationship between Role Clarity and Performance Management: Role clarity is essential for effective performance management. Here's how they are related:

  1. Goal Alignment: Performance management involves setting goals that are aligned with organizational objectives. When employees have role clarity, they understand how their individual goals contribute to the broader organizational goals. This alignment ensures that performance management efforts are focused on the right priorities.

  2. Performance Expectations: Role clarity helps define performance expectations. When employees clearly understand their roles, they know what is expected of them in terms of tasks, responsibilities, and performance standards. This clarity enables managers to set meaningful performance targets and provide accurate feedback during performance evaluations.

  3. Feedback and Coaching: Performance management requires ongoing feedback and coaching to enhance performance. When employees have role clarity, managers can provide targeted feedback that helps individuals improve in specific areas of their job. Clarity about roles also enables managers to offer relevant coaching to bridge any skill gaps and support employee development.

  4. Performance Evaluation: Role clarity contributes to fair and accurate performance evaluations. When employees understand their roles, it becomes easier to assess their performance against established standards and objectives. Evaluations based on clear role expectations lead to more objective and valid assessments of individual performance.

  5. Employee Engagement and Motivation: Role clarity positively impacts employee engagement and motivation. When employees have a clear understanding of their roles, they feel more confident and empowered in their work. This clarity reduces ambiguity, enhances job satisfaction, and improves overall motivation, leading to better performance outcomes.

In summary, role clarity is crucial for effective performance management. It provides the foundation for setting goals, offering feedback, evaluating performance, and fostering employee engagement. Organizations that prioritize role clarity and integrate it into their performance management processes are more likely to achieve higher levels of performance and success.

I understand how role clarity can be measured

Since role clarity refers to both how clear and accurate the perception of roles is, it makes sense to examine these two dimensions separately when measuring role clarity.

Comfort and confidence

Comfort and confidence is looking at role clarity from the perspective of the role holder. It attempts to uncover perception in relation to the feelings of the role holder.

A high degree of clarity is a strong indicator that the role holder will be comfortable and confident in practicing the role as they understand it.

For measuring the comfort and confidence dimension, a role clarity survey is a good option.


Accuracy is looking at role clarity from the perspective of the organization. It attempts to uncover perception in relation to expectations set forth by the organization.

A high degree of accuracy is a strong indicator that the role holder will practice the role in a manner which aligns with the vision of the organization.

For measuring the accuracy dimension, familiarity is a good option.

When to measure what

Since comfort and confidence usually improve over time in an organization, measuring the this dimension is most important with new hires. Commonly, this would be done in association with and closely following the onboarding process until clarity is deemed to be sufficiently high.

When it comes to accuracy, this measurement can more easily get out of sync as expectations are added and modified. As a result, it makes sense to continously review the accuracy perception over the entire employment period in order to ensure that the employee remains aligned and engaged with their roles and expectations at any given time.

Time to role clarity

Time to role clarity refers to how much time it takes someone to reach the level of role clarity required to do their job autonomously.

Time to role clarity is an important indicator in measuring onboarding success, both for the sake of productivity, profitability and employee experience.

I can recognize the symptoms of low role clarity


  • Leaders are being accused of micro management
  • Delegation of roles, responsibilities and processes fail and have to be reversed
  • People disagree about who has the mandate to make certain types of decisions


  • Leaders take or hold on to responsibilities because they believe they are the only one within the organization able to do the work properly.
  • Leaders working long hours or neglecting important work that is not client-faced due to haven taken on too many responsibilities
  • Leaders holding a myriad of roles within the organization, not clearly defined
  • Leaders taking on any work for which it's not clear who is responsible (acting like a "jack of all trades")
  • Leaders complain about having to do everything themselves or requesting that employees "take more responsibility".
  • Leaders observe many problems and try to solve them, but the problems reoccur. 
  • Leaders find themselves constantly repeating expectations.

Scaling organizations

  • It can take up to 12 months before new hires are considered operative in their roles
  • An onboarding culture of "Here's a computer - go figure it out"
  • Work that is important, but non-urgent does not get done (because there exists no accountability for not doing it)
  • People hesitate to take initiative and move forward because they are not sure what their expected role is
  • Expectations are communicated as a game of chinese whispers
  • Employees focus on the wrong tasks at the wrong times.
  • Employees do not represent the organization in a uniform way to external stakeholders.
  • Inefficient cooperation

Mature organizations

In addition to the organizational symptoms above, mature organizations may also experience

  • Leaders have a resigned attitude
  • High turnover
  • High conflict/frustration level
  • A toxic environment (backtalk, rumor spreading, office politics, unconstructive conflict resolution)
  • High absence rate
  • Visible and unconstructive frustration
I know the different types of role expectations

Role expectations are the things we expect a role holder to be familiar with and adhere to in some form or another in their daily work.

Role expectations can be broken down into the following groups:

Here is a comprehensive list of specific role expectations within these groups.

For more details on how to ensure that role expectations are clear and fair, check out the skillset Expectation design.

I understand the processes contributing to role clarity

There are multiple processes in an organization which, either in part or in their entirety, are intended to improve the role clarity within the organization.

We can think of this as a cycle with, with processes broken down into four stages:


The design processes are centered around identifying, articulating and clarifying roles and role expectations.

This work is preferably done proactively as a part of a role clarification process, onboarding preperations, a delegation process or a process designed to rig a specific area of responsibility within the organization.

If not handled proactively, clarification of role expecations often have to be handled reactively as a part of conflict resolutions or low employee satisfaction.


The alignment processes are centered around familiarizing the role holders with role expectations.

The alignment is typically done as a part of an onboarding (for new employees) or reboarding (for existing employees) process.


The evaluation processes are focused on evaluating to which extent the design and align processes have actually resulted in role clarity.

See the skill of how to measure role clarity for more detailed information on the tools and ways to evaluate role clarity at different stages of the employment journey.


The development processes are centered around the ongoing improvement of role clarity for a given role holder.

Processes here include performance evaluations, self-evaluations, self-reflection, check-ins and other processes focused on the continous identification and resolving of the obstacles keeping people from adhering to role expectations.

I know that role clarity is perishable

You could be forgiven for thinking that role clarity is something that one builds up during the initial months within an organization, and then you've got it for however long you decide to stay within the organization. Sadly, that's not the case, as the expectations with which you are expected to be familiar remain a moving target.

For starters, it is very common for our roles within an organization to change during or employment along with our skills, ambitions and the needs of the organization.

And even if our roles were never to change, we would still regularly build up a gradually better understanding of role expectations, meaning what a great role holders master, how they behave and what they prioritize.

Maintaining role clarity is an ongoing process of clarifying expectations and aligning people with those expectations during the entire length of their role tenure.


Sales Development Representative (SDR)

Commitment qualification

Account executive (AE)
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Executive roles Leadership stages Leadership support and enablement Leadership development