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Week 8, 2022—Issue #192

Role-Based Hiring: Build Positions, Prioritize Roles, Measure Trust

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Each week: three ideas for how to build better organizations. This week: three ideas on role-based hiring. Originally published in the newsletter on Feb 25, 2022.

As I’ve written about previously, MAQE is transitioning from a position-based to a role-based org structure. It’s a transformation in the true sense of the word, affecting almost everything we do. Hiring is a case in point and this is our current practice:

1. Build Positions

Positions are best described as portfolios of roles that change over time. It follows that hiring starts with multiple roles (usually 3 to 5) that make a cohesive whole. A full-time engineering position might, for example, include roles in software delivery, learning and development, and organizational improvement — each one with its own set of accountabilities that must be covered by the job description.

2. Prioritize Roles

Experience has taught us to distinguish between primary and secondary roles. Where possible, we allocate one primary role and several secondary roles to each person. To manage expectations, we also add “% allocation” indicator to each role on the job description, taking care to add that that role assignments and allocations will change over time and that it’s the person’s own responsibility to manage that change.

3. Measure Trust

As do most organizations, MAQE observes a 90-day probation period for all new hires. To manage expectations in regards to what it takes to pass that probation, we add Objectives & Key Results (OKR) to the job description. The KRs are outcome-focused; they measure co-worker trust and confidence in the new hire’s ability to fulfill their primary role. We then measure and provide feedback at 30, 60, and 90-day intervals.

The above practice isn’t perfect, but it is an improvement on what was; namely a position-based hiring practice without clear expectations and continuous feedback. We’re continuously improving, and the process gets a little bit better with each new hire.

We’re learning how to:

  • Match the right person with the proper role: we aspire to be a strengths-based organization that emphasizes the unique skill stack of each individual. It’s not easy, but we’re learning.
  • Allocate the right amount of time to each role: we aspire to a fast but sustainable pace that can deliver both impact and work-life integration. That’s not easy either, but we’re learning.
  • Provide fast and continuous feedback: we aspire to a frank-yet-safe work environment that can provide the correct input at the right time. This is ##### difficult but again, we’re learning.

For more on role-based organizations, see:

That’s all for this week.
Until next time: Make it matter.



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