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A New Approach to Defining Jobs
and Delegating Work

CERT Consultancy & Training

Little Gringley
DN22 0DU
United Kigdom
Tel : 44 (0)1777 860835
Fax: 44 (0)870 1319953

The Case for a New Approach

The job description, or one of its derivatives, is still the most commonly used method of
communicating the job. This is surprising given the overwhelming weight of evidence that
shows it is not working effectively in todays constantly changing working environment.
Recent pan European research by Management consultants Towers Perrin involving 600
businesses revealed that only 16% of employees in the UK understand their jobs properly.
While in Germany the figure was even worse, only 6%. Even the highest score, in the
Netherlands where 32% of employees said they understood their jobs very well, falls well
short of being acceptable.
Does this matter? This is probably best answered by the findings of Marcus Buckingham and
Curt Coffman of the Gallup Organization which are revealed in their book First Break all the
They made a study of 25 years research by Gallup involving over one million employees and
eighty thousand managers to identify what is required to retain and maximise the contribution
of talented employees.
They identified 12 key factors and at the top of the list was I know what is expected of me at
The shortcomings of the job description in communicating the current job however is only
part of the problem.
Low Job Control Equates with Lower Performance
There is also criticism of top-down control and command management practices, typically
perpetuated by the rigidity of the job description.
Sir Brian Pitman chairman of Lloyds TSB writing in Management Today says, In todays
environment, old-style command and control structures no longer work. People want
freedom, but it must be within a framework.
Even more damning is a report produced by Professor Michael Marmot containing the
findings of research conducted by University College London among 10,000 civil servants
over a five year period.
Professor Marmot suggests that bosses who allow their employees more say in decisions at
work may enjoy a healthier workforce with lower stress levels. He supports this by
explaining, Most people will have a boss, however high up they are, so its a matter of how
much responsibility and control you are given over your area of work.
Maybe you recognise the above scenarios in your organisation.
It is against this background that Dr Meredith Belbin and Barrie Watson have devised a
radical new approach to defining and continually updating jobs.

Introducing Belbin Work Roles

The term Work Role is not just a new name for the job description, it embraces a new
paradigm where:
* Jobholders are encouraged to play a much bigger role in defining their jobs
* Empowerment, innovation, team working and flexibility are seen as integral
to the job
* Each person has a clear understanding of what is expected of them
The Belbin Work Role model has been
created to meet the need of these demands
and using the specially designed WorkSet
software the whole process is easy to
The WorkSet computer system manages the
process of defining and continually updating
jobs in a highly cost-effective way.
The Imaginative Use of Colour Avoids Ambiguities
Those who have used Dr Belbins Team Role model to communicate peoples behavioural
tendencies will not be surprised by the imaginative use of colour in the Belbin Work Roles
It is this use of colour to communicate different classifications of work that enables fewer
words to be used, without compromising clarity - thus addressing one of the main
shortcomings of current practices. This use of colour is also a great advantage when
communicating between different cultures.
The illustration on the right shows the colour
classifications used by managers for assigning work.
In the Work Role model there is a precise meaning
for each of the colour classifications:
BLUE denotes tasks that have to be
undertaken in a prescribed way to an
approved standard.
YELLOW is the colour used to
convey personal discretion and the
freedom to decide how to go about
achieving a defined goal or objective.
GREEN denotes that the person is required to respond to the needs of others in
a pre-defined context.
ORANGE is the colour used to define teamwork or shared responsibility for
achieving a goal or objective.
A further three colours are used by Jobholders to feedback to managers additional work
undertaken and thus, ensure each Work Role accurately describes the job.

Using the Work Role Model to Improve Delegation

Because jobs are constantly under change in todays workplace many organisations have
given up, officially or unofficially, on using job descriptions. This does lead to the problems
described on page 2 however.
One solution is to place greater emphasis on the delegation process and ensure that managers
deal with this important managerial function effectively.
In fact it is in this context that the Work Role model has become widely adopted.
Adopting the Work Role Model
Because of its simplicity the Belbin Work Role model is easily adopted and only a relatively
small investment is required to reap substantial enhancements to people performance.
There are three main options for introducing the Work Role model:
1. Nominate your own facilitators for us to train and equip with the skills and
tools to apply the model in your organisation.
2. Engage us to train your managers in using the Work Role model to ensure
they delegate in a disciplined and effective way.
3. Arrange for us to implement the adoption of the Work Role model within
your organisation.
Whichever option you choose, we are so confident that you will be impressed by the results
that we recommend you conduct a pilot and evaluate the benefits before committing yourself
to adopting Belbin Work Roles on an organisation-wide basis. In this way your risk exposure
is negligible and you can properly evaluate the benefits.
What Does it Cost?
The cost of the three options described above are:
1. Training a facilitator, including full documentation and the WorkSet
software - 695.
2. Training a manager in using the Work Role model to improve their
delegation - 195.
3. Us conducting a pilot and evaluation involving 25 manager/jobholder pairs
is usually in the region of 2500 to 3500, including the conduct of an
evaluation workshop.
For options (1) and (2) discounts and tailored in-house courses are offered for organisations
requiring six or more people to be trained. We will provide you with a proposal and
quotation for option (3) after receiving a detailed brief from you.
The above cost indications are subject to VAT in the UK