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Setting accountabilities and role expectations

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What is an accountability?

An accountability is a major job responsibility or initiative that an employee is committed to accomplish during the review cycle.

Most roles have between three to five major accountabilities. Examples of accountabilities for an administrative role would be: provide accurate, organized and efficient administrative support or respond promptly and thoroughly to requests for information.

Why set accountabilities?

An important benefit of setting accountabilities is that it improves communication between the employee and supervisor by jointly clarifying job responsibilities and performance expectations at the beginning of the review cycle.

By setting clear accountabilities, individuals and organizations will be able to:

  • define priorities
  • establish direction
  • identify expected results
  • enhance teamwork
  • improve individual performance
  • clarify expectations
  • link individual contributions to the overall success of the university

What is the process for setting accountabilities?

The process for setting accountabilities consists of the following steps:

  1. Identify key duties and accountabilities of the role. If appropriate, refer to faculty or department goals, the role summary, as well as major activities planned for the year as a basis for itemizing and prioritizing key accountabilities.
  2. Meet with your supervisor to review and agree on the role's key accountabilities and measures or standards of performance.
  3. Use the Performance Review and Development form to describe the three to five accountabilities for the upcoming cyclefocusing on observable, measurable performance expectations.

Example of an accountability

Create and maintain an accurate and current office record management system. 

4. Describe the expectations for each accountability by discussing with your supervisor the criteria and measures that will be used to determine whether the accountability has been carried out successfully.

Example of expectations

  • Develop an online filing system for storing course and program documents.
  • Maintain meeting minute binders, agendas, advisory committee meetings, executive meetings.
  • Maintain confidential human resources files including staff probation dates, tenure review, payroll information.
  • Archive files annually.
  • Keep all filing up-to-date and simple to use

5. Identify resources needed to accomplish job accountabilities and expectations.

Example of resources

  1. Budget for purchasing binders as appropriate
  2. Online computer and physical storage space availability
  3. Archive availability

How to respond to changes:

During the period that elapses from the time you set your accountabilities until the end of the performance cycle, there may be unforeseen challenges or obstacles. These challenges may directly impact whether or not you can achieve your accountabilities.

Unforeseen challenges may include:

  • a change in the university's strategic plan or direction
  • a shifting of priorities for the department or faculty
  • a change in job responsibilities
  • resources ( i.e. staff, funds,etc.,) may no longer be available

Under these exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary for you and your supervisor to revise your accountabilities/expectations and document the changes. On-going meetings are encouraged between you and your supervisor to ensure that your accountabilities are still appropriate.

Completed example for an administrative assistant role

Completed example for a student advisor role

Completed example for an admissions/liaison officer role

Completed example for a lab technician role