Role Documentation


An important foundation of the Valuing Work @ Wellesley College program is the understanding and documentation of our roles at work. While specific duties change frequently our roles are designed around some basic purposes and elements which are captured through the role documentation process. The role document is the description on one’s role and the skills and competencies needed to perform it effectively. To obtain a copy of your role document contact Human Resources.

Purposes of Role Documentation

Job vs. Role: What is the Difference?

Completing a Role Document


Purposes of Role Documentation

There are five important outcomes of role documentation at Wellesley College:

  1. A role document provides a clear statement of accountabilities, skills and expectations for work to be done in various areas of the College. It provides basic information for the employee and his/her manager.
  2. Role documentation is a key tool in effective performance planning and performance management. The role document sets the stage for defining expectations of skill and in articulating appropriate goals, as well as evaluating progress.
  3. The role document details information needed to classify a role into the appropriate level of Wellesley’s Role Classification System. The role document asks for information in categories that match closely with the competencies or compensable factors found in the classification model such as Accountability/Responsibility, Communication, and Service to Constituents.
  4. Accurate role documentation allows Human Resources to match a role to similar roles in comparable organizations in Wellesley’s competitive marketplace. This process ensures Wellesley’s ability to maintain competitive rates of pay through the use of salary surveys.
  5. The role document serves as a source of recruiting information for Human Resources as well as for candidates in understanding a position.


Job vs. Role: What is the Difference?

The role documentation process at Wellesley College is concerned with the collection of information on “roles” rather than “jobs”. This distinction is not simply one of jargon.

Wellesley’s classification system is based on roles. There is a shift at the College, and in the work world at large, to consider work in terms of a role rather than a job. The increased use of technology and the resulting changes in organizational structure has changed the focus in today’s workplace from a collection of tasks to be completed, a job, to the primary responsibilities, performance indicators, and competencies (skills) required for the work, a role.

A job is concerned with a group of tasks and specific results, and tends to be somewhat unique for each different person performing the job. Each new or changed task, indeed, each new job holder, will change this collection of activities. Every individual needs to describe his/her job differently, and so this type of job description frequently becomes outdated and inaccurate. A job description, by its very nature, tends to overlook the similarities between various jobs.

A role is concerned with elements such as which groups or areas the position serves, the accountabilities/responsibilities of the role and the overall skills and abilities required for the specific type of work. When viewed from this perspective, a number of jobs can usually be grouped into a role because, while tasks and specific goals may differ, the overall purpose, elements, and skills or competencies required are very similar.

For example, each Admissions Counselor at Wellesley covers a distinct geographical territory (prospective students and their families) but in all other respects each Admissions Counselor performs the same role. At Wellesley, we would develop one role document to describe the Admissions Counselor instead of a job description for each Admission Counselor. This streamlines the documentation process because fewer documents are required and the concentration on role similarities, rather than job differences, provides more flexibility. Employees can take on new assignments and tasks within the same role, or move into similar roles in different areas of the college.

Completing a Role Document

The role document is designed to collect meaningful information about role content, performance requirements and the employee’s required skills.

Each section deals with a different aspect of the role being described, including:

  • General identifying information
  • Role summary
  • Primary position responsibilities
  • Performance profile


Questions are designed to collect information about competencies that have been identified as those critical to success at Wellesley, including:

  • Service to Others (Individuals/Groups)
  • Expertise (Knowledge, Skill, Educational and Experience Requirements)
  • Leadership
  • Accountability/Responsibility
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Problem Solving and Innovation
  • Development of Self and Others
  • Affirming and Enabling Diversity

Complete and accurate documentation of a role is extremely important for classification, performance planning and performance management, and accurate salary comparison with similar jobs across the college and in the competitive marketplace.


HR values and respects confidentiality.