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Job Descriptions - You Gotta Have Them

Job descriptions! I can almost hear you saying, "Oh no, not that - aren't they so "old school", a necessary evil?" Well, you’re half right, they’re definitively necessary.  

We have worked with organizations where job descriptions were thirty years old; some duties included using a Dictaphone - remember those? And, we have worked with organizations where management didn't want job descriptions, thinking that if all duties were defined, employees wouldn't accept a work assignment that wasn't in the description without expecting more pay.

There are six reasons why every organization should have up-to-date job descriptions.

Recruiting & Selection
When you set out to fill a position, you need to be clear about what you expect from the employee, and what technical skills, training, and experience are needed to be qualified for consideration. What do you expect the employee to produce? What are the conditions of employment, including physical requirements, environmental conditions, and travel commitments? This information helps you be efficient in your search. It gives you a standard for screening candidates. Once a candidate is identified, it provides him/her with needed information to determine whether or not your position is a good fit.

A job description gives you, and/or your HR department, information that is needed to properly determine the market value of the position. Especially in this tight economy, one cannot afford to over pay for a position. At the same time, if you want access to the best qualified people, it is important to pay competitively. Internally, as a job changes as a result of broader responsibilities or the introduction of technology, it needs to be re-priced to stay competitive. Otherwise, you may have employees who are paid significantly below the market for comparable skills, making them vulnerable to being attracted away by a competitor after you have invested in increasing their capabilities.

Performance Management
A job description represents a working agreement between an employee and his/her manager, defining job scope, responsibilities, duties, and expectations. Performance appraisal is one of the most important roles of an effective leader, yet it is regarded as one of the most distasteful. If the job description sufficiently covers performance expectations, in objective and measureable terms, the appraisal becomes a matter-of-fact discussion of what was done and what was not done. This helps avoid subjective judgments and allows you to present the facts and objective observations.

Staff Development
Although some employees may be very self-assured, no one is perfect. We all have room for improvement. Linking employee development plans to the job description gives greater purpose to skill enhancement efforts. Linking the two allows a person to see the fruit of his or her efforts, benefiting both the individual and the organization.

Organizational Development
Most employees want to believe that there will be opportunities for career advancement in their organization. They want to map out job progression and focus their professional development on the skills that are needed to qualify for the next job. Job descriptions give them the information they need to plot their course and engage their mentors in helping them achieve their career goals. From an organizational perspective, as a manager, in order to effectively structure your resources, you need to define roles and responsibilities within your department. Well written job description will clarify how the pieces fit together to accomplish your goals.

Although dealing with compliance matters may not be particularly strategic it is necessary and is required. In order to meet certain federal standards, job descriptions are required to contain certain information. Also, organizations are required to retain job descriptions so that an employee's progression within a company can be documented.

Leveraging Job Descriptions
The best descriptions are prepared by, or with extensive input from, front-line management and the person performing the job. Make sure that you have a current job description that is compliant with applicable statutes for every job. Where you have multiple incumbents in a job, you only need one description. Where you have a job such as Manufacturing Associate, which may cover a number of individual positions, all doing essentially comparable work, you need only one job description.

When an employee leaves, particularly in an individual contributor job, take that opportunity to review the description to make sure that it properly covers your expectations. It will save you time and money in recruiting and will result in better candidate selection.

As you conduct annual performance evaluations, the job description should be the reference document for defining performance. During the review, both you and your employee should review the description to make sure that it is still accurate and that it properly emphasizes the truly important aspects of the job.

Make descriptions readily available to employees. The better everyone understands how all of the pieces fit together the more prepared they are to suggest meaningful process improvements.

--Joel Myers, The Centre Group, Inc.
Posted: 10/15/2012 2:22:24 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: blog, blogs, business, card, chamber, description, job, memphis, position, recruiting, retention, salary, worker

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