How do we design a job for someone that will allow them to grow and succeed?

I started my gym when I was 23 years old. I had never hired a single person in my life. The closest I had come to management was being the soccer team captain in high school; I was hardly qualified to be a “boss” in any capacity, let alone design that job that would allow a person to succeed.

When we hire a person and start offloading tasks, we typically want them to do these tasks precisely as an owner would; we want them to think like entrepreneurs, be scrappy and have grit! There are two main pieces to drive this type of intrapreneur-ship that actually work; Authority and Responsibility. Often we design a job for someone with authority and responsibility at the same level, but this does not create that entrepreneurial attitude we are looking for. I know this sounds counterintuitive, so let me explain.

Authority is the amount of control that the person has over a particular part of the business. Often, this equates to decision rights, pricing, budgets, and other assets within the gym. Responsibilities are typically the amount of accountability that we assign for the goals to be met, such as the number of sales made, customer satisfaction, or return on investment. Historically, jobs were designed to have a similar level of responsibility and accountability, but this may not work as planned in many small businesses. How many times have you heard of another gym owner promoting a staff person to a General Manager and that person simply not performing? This is a classic example of the level of responsibility and authority matching up and failing. How can we get these people to think like an owner when we promote them?

Introducing the Entrepreneurial Gap. The entrepreneurial gap happens when we reduce the level of authority (or control) that a person has and simultaneously increase the level of responsibility (or accountability) we give them. See the photo below.


Now, I know this sounds a bit counterintuitive when it comes to job design. How can we give someone responsibility and no authority over the resources they control? Let’s think back to when you first started on your entrepreneurial journey, you maybe did not have many resources, but you were responsible for making the business run and grow anyway. Your lack of resources forced you to seek out opportunities and talk to other business owners, mentors, and community members for the help you needed to succeed. The same can be done in the jobs that you design for your staff, and this is truly at the core of intrapreneurialism.

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