159 – Defining Your Role
Purpose/Objectives: This exercise enables employees and superiors to com-
pare expectations about the content of a job and the
relative importance each places on the individual
assignments. First, the employee writes a list of the job
responsibilities, lists them by importance, and places a
personal and organizational value on the more impor-
tant items. The superior is then asked to review the
first list, make any necessary changes, and rank the
items as he or she sees their importance. After com-
paring them, clarification dramatically improves both
productivity and job satisfaction. In addition, the
employee can now better negotiate for those items that
will meet his or her own needs and those of the
Time Required: 60 minutes
Group Size: Unlimited
Use this Session Builder as:
• An action plan to put into practice principles of role
clarity and assertiveness.
• A pre-session assignment to lead into a discussion of
the key principles of assertiveness and role
• A learning aid for those employees and superiors who
are having trouble clarifying expectations of a job
• Make copies of the Instruction Sheet and the Suggested Assignment Areas list for
• Provide pencils and plain paper for participants to use when completing the
• Have a whiteboard or flipchart and markers available to use during the
• The room should be flexible enough for small group discussions to occur (if that
option is chosen).
• Distribute a copy of the Instruction Sheet, a pencil, and plain paper to each
participant. In Step 1, ask each person to write a job description listing all of
his or her duties and responsibilities. Have them write down on paper
everything the job requires them to do (as they see it).
• To stimulate thinking and to help make their lists more inclusive, distribute the
Suggested Assignment Areas list. This list will help participants word their
descriptions and can be especially helpful to supervisors or managers who have
never had experience writing job descriptions.
• Encourage participants to be specific, but not too detailed, when writing their
assignments. The Suggested Assignment Areas list will help them group their
ideas under more general headings.
• Allow participants about 20 minutes to complete their lists. If you notice that
some have finished writing in 5 to 10 minutes, ask to see what they have
written. You will generally find that hastily finished lists are too general. For
example, they may have listed one assignment as “Supervise staff.” Encourage
them to be more specific by breaking down the job of supervision and clearly
• If you monitor the process, you may also notice that a few participants are using
too much detail in their descriptions. Encourage them to refer to the Suggested
Assignment Areas list to help them generalize the information.
• When the lists of duties and responsibilities are complete, ask participants to
list the items again on a separate sheet of paper. This time, ask them to list the
most important items first, followed by those items that are less important.
This is Step 2 on the Instrument Sheet.