Role Profiles: The Basics

Effective organisations tend to invest time in understanding their structure. Organisational structure is the grouping of the functions or departments in the organisation. The functions in the organisation are made up of roles and roles are created in order to divide the responsibilities and objectives of the function. People, based on their knowledge, skills and capabilities are assigned to roles in order to perform vital tasks that achieve business objectives.

The way the role is broken down into meaningful and measurable tasks is documented in a job description, better known nowadays as a role profile.

Role Profiles: Their Value and Uses for HR

Different aspects of a comprehensive role profile can be used across the entire HR value chain. The minimum requirements for the role in terms of education and experience, together with the job purpose and competencies, make up an abbreviated version of the role, known as the job spec. The job spec is typically used for recruitment purposes to advertise for a vacancy and to identify the most appropriate person for the role.

The competencies and complexity level of the role assist in creating competency-based interview questions and knowing what dimensions to use in psychometric assessments. Therefore, a well-constructed role profile can assist greatly in the selection process, therefore ensuring that the organisation gets the right people in the right roles.

The role profile is also used in the orientation phase of new hires. A good, comprehensive role profile can guide managers and HR professionals in how to induct new incumbents and orientate them to their responsibilities.

Furthermore, the profile is usually submitted to a Remuneration and Benefits Specialist for grading purposes. The outcome of this process assists ensures that there is a standard and effective salary structure in place based on duties, qualifications, etc. in all roles across the organisation.

Role Profiles: Their Value and Uses for Business

Role profiles help the incumbent of the role understand their scope of work; including their responsibilities and limits in the role, as well as the outcomes and tasks to which they will be held accountable. Role profiles also help the managers of a team ensure that no tasks are duplicated or neglected.

Good role profiles also serve as guides for creating succession plans and career paths for employees.

A useful application for the role profile in the eyes of a line manager is to manage team members’ performance. Defining the tasks and responsibilities in the role profile acts as a guideline for managing and monitoring performance.

In addition, should an employee be terminated for poor performance, an accurate role profile can help an organisation defend their case or decisions, therefore serving as an important legal defence.


The world of work is changing at a rapid pace and with it, the nature of roles inside an organisation. Role profiles are important touch points for companies to refer to amid the uncertainty of change.

The combined HR and business value that a role profile brings to an organisation is therefore almost impossible to estimate, but certain to increase into the future.