Every day in workplaces all over the world, people are heads down, focused on getting their jobs done. Employees are ticking tasks off their to-do lists and are sitting in meetings generating more work for the next day on the job. But are they working on the right things? Are they clear about what is expected and what their role is? Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. This is costing businesses everywhere A LOT of money.
An HR practice that we recommend is that every position within an organization have a job description. A job description does a few very important things: it sets the tone for the employee of what is expected, it captures the scope of the work so that you can avoid dropped balls and duplication of effort, and it is often used to both hire for the position and to determine the salary so that you are paying appropriately.
Job descriptions are also a very critical piece of the performance management process.
You have probably experienced a moment when you realize that an employee is not meeting your expectations and you have to talk with them about how they need to change. You start that discussion only to realize that they have no idea what their job is. They are going off in a completely different direction than you intended and it becomes painfully obvious that your expectations aren’t being met because they had no idea that you had them in the first place! Talk about a waste of time and energy.
The Solution. A job description that outlines the scope of work and responsibilities, the required qualifications and personal characteristics and also highlights working conditions, reporting relationships and any other specific pieces of information that would be helpful for the employee to know. Job descriptions can be one or two pages – the more focused you are the better, while still making sure you provide enough detail to set expectations. The meetings you have in the future about expectations will go a lot smoother and be far more productive if you start with a job description!
Your Engaged Workplace Assignment: Do you have job descriptions for all positions in your organization? Are they up to date? It’s time to take a look! The employee doing the job is the best person to update the job description so send it off to them and ask for an update!