Sooner or later, you will face a poorly defined job role. 

Priorities, goals, and tasks change. People come and go. The business grows.

You meet real problems when you lack role clarity about your own role as a team leader. 

And what happens with your team?

Employees in long-standing role ambiguity become disengaged, burnt out, and perform poorly.  

Role confusion, role ambiguity, and role conflict are work stressors you don’t want to mess with: you need to deal with them as soon as they occur.

Be clear about your own role and you’ll score gold for the whole team. 

Watch the video to learn more about role clarity and role ambiguity:

What is Role Clarity?

An employee is clear about their job role when they know what they need to do and what is expected from them. 

Clear job objectives, accountabilities, and responsibilities are part of role clarity in the workplace. 

Role clarity consists of clear definitions of job deliverables, processes, priorities, and stakeholders. 

A clear role means that the employee is aware and informed about their roles on a team or in an organization. 

Role Conflict Definition

Role conflict occurs when a person is asked to do a job with incompatible job demands or perform tasks with values that clash with their personal value system. 

When an employee is asked to perform contradictory or competing tasks, they experience role conflict. An example of role conflict is when a team member needs to do an urgent job for two clients at the same time.

Role Confusion

Role confusion is the experience of not knowing the employee’s standing within a team or an organization. Role confusion shows up whenever there is a novelty on a team, such as a new manager, new job, job transfer, or structural changes in an organization. 

Missing role clarity and role confusion exacerbate work-related stress on part of the concerned employee. They can also cause tension and work-related conflict between employees. Instead of spending their time doing productive work, employees waste energy on managing team relationships or resolving conflicts.

Learn more: What is Your Conflict Management Style?

Role Clarity and Role Ambiguity

To define role clarity, you have to know what stands at the opposite end of it. 

Role ambiguity is the opposite of role clarity in the sense it describes the person’s uncertainty about job tasks, work methods, and priorities. 

Usually, employees are somewhere in-between ‘clear’ and ‘unclear’ about their job role. Ultimately, this results in role ambiguity or a situation with vague boundaries about the job description within the context of the organization. For example, when a person doesn’t know how to apply particular skills to the context of an organization, they will face role ambiguity and work-related stress. 

Learn more:  Competency Gap Analysis: Skills Into Context  

How to Create Role Clarity at Work

You cannot escape role uncertainty. Work changes happen before you know it. Role clarification

  1. Survey employees about how clear they are about their job role. Do this with every new hire, and every change in tasks and responsibilities. 
  2. Leverage role fulfillment. Hire talent that works a job with natural motivation and a sense of purpose. 
  3. Promote role acceptance. Ask employees to commit to their job roles. Role acceptance means employees have not only understood their roles but are also committed to successfully doing them. 
  4. Create clear onboarding guides. Minimize role ambiguity and uncertainty when novelty occurs. 
  5. Eliminate overlapping tasks. Define the scope and the parameters of a role and stick to them.
  6. Identify skills gaps. Role ambiguity may occur due to the need for new skills you don’t have on your team.  
  7. Encourage a culture of open conflict resolution. Be the example, communicate openly, and don’t shy away from conflicts. React at the first sign of discrepancy between expectations and reality.

Role conflict, role clarity, and role ambiguity are predictors of team performance you can measure in large organizations. The problem is – it takes ages to implement corrective action and a small business needs quick action that brings results. 

Ready to take action and improve role clarity on your team in the nick of time? 

Role Clarity Accelerator

Listen to the Virtual Frontier podcast to learn more about creating clear team roles:

Learn more about virtual team management:


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