Q: As I look to build my business beyond sole proprietorship and bring on other team members, how should I lay out expectations if some tasks might go beyond the usual job descriptions?



A: The job description should map out responsibilities in general terms. There is usually an “other duties as assigned” caveat. However, because you are asking for ways to engage team members in the operations of the business, you are correct in seeking to map out mutual expectations.

This can be done successfully if you have a sense of your own expectations. Start out by determining the conditions for team membership that you feel are essential for the success of your business. Realize that some of these conditions can be adjusted as you bring team members on board. As you do so, you must ask yourself a few basic questions: Are you looking for help in building the business from a sales and marketing perspective? Do you want the team members to contribute to the business strategy or add creative input? Is your intent to pay bonuses or have equity partners? What incentives are you offering?

Once you have a good sense of your own needs and boundaries, you can better negotiate with prospective team members. Following are a few suggestions in working through joint expectations.

First, define the level of decisionmaking authority by determining where team members have authority. What are the proper communication channels for assessing any shared decisionmaking? Who should be consulted before a key decision is made? How are team members informed after a decision is made? Who has the final say in the process?

Second, be clear as to the actual expectation of the work. What are the tasks to be done? What are the boundaries of time and customer service? How will the quality of work be determined? How are new tasks negotiated and what resources are needed to get the work done?

Third, have a clear mutual understanding of compensation. You are expecting more from the team members than the work outlined in a job description. As a result, they may be expecting more than a standard paycheck. Negotiate these terms firmly.

John Militello is a professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.