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Roles and Responsibilities Guides:

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Why you need them and how to create them

Startup Advice

Everyone's got opinions. Do some count more than others?

When we last left off you identified your core value North Star Framework. While it’s essential to pinpoint and articulate your values so that you don’t deviate from them, it’s just as important for you to share your expectations on who does what, when, and who gets notified under which circumstances. So let’s dive into how to create Roles and Responsibilities for you, your partners, investors, employees, and vendors.

In each of these relationships, you’ll need to define (or co-define) what the agreement is and how best it should work. There are a number of templates out there to reference. Ultimately, you should start with one like I’m providing here and then adapt it to suit your needs and unique management style. Don’t get hung up on the format. You are creating a guide that should be revisited often and amended as situations over time bring more assumptions to light. I recommend quarterly reviews of these when you’re first getting started in business, and then half-yearly or when you do your internal reviews. (You’re setting up internal reviews, right?)


If you're doing this exercise with a partner, I find it’s best to each have the same template, but write out your R&R’s independently and then come together to cross-reference in an open discussion. You’ll often find that even in this exercise you’ll see the working style and priorities of each person shine through. One person might highlight lots of vision-based planning while the other is rooted in practicalities and tasks. Or, you might see that each expects to be in charge of the same task and you’ll need to determine who will be the lead.


This is a relationship where the investor wants to see you succeed and help you get to the next level. Because they are often more seasoned in business and hold the purse strings, founders will often cow-tow to what the investor wants. I find this is more of an exercise for you to get clear on the terms and what you find acceptable in the relationship.

Investors may scoff at receiving an R&R sheet unannounced, so that’s not my recommendation here. It’s best to have a face-to-face (or call) conversation about your role, their role, and how you’d like to work together, and then conclude that you’d like to share your thoughts in writing. They will have their own ideas on how they’d like to be involved. Discussing your assumptions and expectations will be the starting point for negotiation and ensures that you have your point of view and interests accounted for.


Employees thrive when they have clearly defined roles and a clear path for growth. The Roles and Responsibilities that I recommend include not only what the employee does, but who their lead or manager is, and how feedback loops should be implemented on completed tasks. It’s also an opportunity to create team structure and departments (even if you only have one employee right now, it may be many more in the future).

I encourage you to write these in the tone and manner of your brand. Make this part of your company culture. In my last business, I created our R&R’s to include spirit animals. It was both fun and a little woo (and met with mixed feelings, truth be told) but what I loved about this was that it showed to the employee what we expected of them from an emotional point, not just a work-bee aspect. For example, Our account team were Hawks, Owls, Foxes, and the like. An Owl has precision, grace, speed, and agility. They can see 180 degrees at all times. They act without fear and with autonomy. You can see why the spirit animal can paint a little more of a picture to the expectations within the role rather than a bullet point list of do’s and don’ts.


Yep, even a vendor counts as a partnership relationship. This is where most businesses sour and get burned because they’ve failed to articulate in detail what are the deliverables and expectations in terms of goods, services, time, money and delivery. While these expectations usually happen in a Statement of Work, or other contracts, it’s important for you as a business owner to sit down and write down every assumption you have around what they are delivering. You can then organize them and detail this in the terms of your contract. Be sure to highlight this and go over it with your vendor so they are aware and can bring up any counterpoints.

Roles and Responsibilities usually include these major categories:

  • Title: This gives them clarity and ownership of their job and function. It also allows for growth and the opportunity to get to the next level.

  • Department: Sharing which area they work in helps define their role further. Are they consumer or internal-facing, or both? Do they work across departments (and if so, who is their primary contact)?

  • Responsibilities: Here you'll list out the specific set of actions, decisions, tasks and/or deliverables this person is responsible for. Try and use larger buckets or categories here, but drill down and get detailed if there are specific functions that are mandatory so that all parties are in agreement. Like, weekly reporting, sales requirements, etc.

  • Dependencies: Do they oversee or is their work dependent on other persons or a department? Describe in short detail how that relationship is meant to look and expectations around timeliness.

  • Feedback Loops: There should be two-way communication between those responsible and those consulted. Define who that person reports to, and how, and when, they should report to them. This could be on progress, or when the task or deliverable is completed. Give details on the program or tools they'll be using to track progress.

Take the time to write out your Roles and Responsibilities today, not tomorrow. Use the template I supplied and be sure to watch the video Masterclass I created to help you out. I'm excited for the growth that comes from clarity. And when you start to apply these tools and strategies to your own life, you'll be #winning at this work-partnership thing in no time.


Shawna Bigby Davis

Health Conscious Business Coach

Business Builder, Branding Expert, Autoimmune Warrior & Advocate, Proud Strategic Advisor for the Women Founders Network. I teach women how to thrive personally and professionally by guiding them toward harmony in the life they want to create. Learn more about How to Build without Burnout courses and group coaching with the Wellthy Woman Mastermind.


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