With increasing focus on achievement of results, role profiles are rightly replacing job descriptions even though at a somewhat slower speed than one would expect. In developing countries such as Tanzania, the use of role profiles is even scantier. It is a reflection of continued predominance of the traditional functional rather than results based outlook of the job.
A major downside of the job description is its functional focus that blurs not only the focus on but also conceptualization of results of any given job. A job description is essentially an assembly of activities related to skills and common areas of expertise. Such a configuration virtually bears no reference to results to be achieved. Its focus on skills and expertise areas also interferes with the connection between the interwoven activities of separate departments, which would otherwise be bound by business processes. This is a major cause of jobs existing as silos within an organization.
Where organizations are managed on a functional basis, in most cases the interdependency among the activities relating to a common job purpose is neither obvious nor easily discernible. In such cases, often more than wanted activities are included to meet professional interests rather than dictated by achievement of results. This is obviously a cause for concern with respect to both organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
A way out of this and to enhance focus on achievement of results is to use role profiles instead of job descriptions. Essentially, a role is the part an employee plays in the envisaged contribution of an organization in meeting its obligations to both its customers and shareholders. In this way a role is conceptually more focused on achievement of results than implementation of activities.
Unlike a job description, a role profile defines the outcomes the role holder is expected to deliver in given key result areas. By focusing on results to be achieved rather than activities to be implemented, the role holder then has leeway to streamline activities in the most efficient way possible to achieve the desired results. In this way a role profile contributes not only to efficiency but also employee empowerment and enhances innovativeness in performing the role. A role profile also lists the competencies required to perform effectively and efficiently in the role thus aiding in human resource recruitment.