Role Clarity & Goal Clarity.

I have spent the past 20 years beating the role clarity drum and recently heard goal clarity added to it and was mesmerized. The purpose of this blog is to create context on how blending role and goal clarity will help you run great stores. Afterall, that is the mission of Running Great Stores!

What is Role Clarity?

Let’s start by defining role clarity and why it matters. I use the term role clarity when working with my retail clients as we sharpen their store operations. Simply put, every associate who works in your retail stores must be crystal clear on what their role is. This includes what success looks like, and what they are accountable for.

Let’s use a store manager role as an example. A store manager should be accountable for driving revenue, creating remarkable customer experiences, hiring the BEST talent and running an operationally excellent store. Can we all agree on that?

If the store manager is clear on their role, they feel confident and the retailer often sees less turnover. Everyone wants to feel successful at work. But without a vision of what good looks like, it is almost impossible to meet the expectation.

Who Needs Role Clarity?

If you could create role clarity for just one role, ensure its the store manager. But if you want to stand out amongst retailers as a great place to work, where people can be successful, then you need it for every role on the team.

Creating role clarity for every role on the team is not complicated. Sit down with the folks who are executing the tasks and asks them what they do. Once you have a list of the activities, talk about what success looks like. That is a great start.

There is one more component. How do you ensure the teams are clear on who is responsible and who is accountable? For example, the store manager, assistant manager and sales leader may do similar tasks. Defining responsible vs. accountable is a game changer. Check out the definitions below.

Accountable vs. Responsible.

I find a big opportunity among retail teams is understanding the difference between being accountable and being responsible. Don’t assume your teams know the difference. These two words are often used interchangeably.


Being accountable means one person (and only one) has the ownership for a task being completed. This does not mean they actually complete the task. Let’s use an example. As a district manager, I am accountable for the customer experience in all the locations in my district however I am not responsible for it. The team who works in each location is. Two people should not be accountable for the same thing. There tends to be some finger pointing as a result of a lack of clarity on who was really on the hook for it.


Being responsible for something means you are the person who is completing the task. At any given time, we are all responsible for something, no matter our title. When the person is clear on what good looks like, it will be easier to execute it well. In another blog, I will talk about how to assign work using situational leadership.

What is Goal Clarity?

We talked about Role Clarity, knowling what is expected of a role and what success looks like. Now let’s define Goal Clarity. Simply put, goal clarity is when the objectives (what we are doing & why we are doing it), the actions(how do I do it) and the expected outcomes are clearly defined. Role clarity is often defined once and revisited regularly. Goal clarity must be revisited every time goals change. If someone isn’t clear on the actions, there is no way they can deliver the expectations.

Practical Application.

Hopefully you learned something in this short blog that will help you be a better leader. Abu Bakr once said, “Without knowledge, action is useless and knowledge without action is futile”. So how will you take action with your team?

Here is an easy way to assess if your team has Role Clarity and Goal Clarity. Ask them! Get specific. Go up to one of your managers and ask them what they believe their role is. Ask them what they think success looks like. Then ask them about their goals. Do they have any? What is the objective of the goal? How will you measure success? When will it be done? Who will help you complete it? Are there other resources required? These are just examples of questions to ask.

In Your Corner.

If you are looking for support of your retail stores, look no further. Not all retail consultants are created equal. Together, we will move the needle on your talent, operations and resulting sales revenue. You can reach me at

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