Do you have job descriptions for all of your employees? Don’t feel embarrassed if you answered no. Your workplace is far from unusual. I know more employers who manage, many of them quite nicely, without this documentation.
Why write job descriptions?
Job descriptions provide baseline information to identify good candidates during recruitment, create an outline of position requirements and a baseline for ongoing expectations. Most job descriptions are read once, if ever, and filed away for future use. It’s too bad as they can be useful during performance evaluation time or during compensation discussions.
A job description can be particularly useful when responsibilities are changed dramatically due to a new product, process or restructuring for any reason including a downsizing. Writing the new description will help identify how changes in the role will be implemented successfully. When it is all put down on paper it will be easier to see potential conflicts and efficiencies.
What goes into a job description?
These don’t have to be multiple chapter documents. A good job description provides an overview of the goals and roles of the position. It answers the questions; where does this job fit in the organization? What are the expected outcomes and why are they important? What are the responsibilities and who does the incumbent interact with to get the work done?
Part two of the description includes the skills, knowledge and experience needed to perform the job. This may specify years in a discipline and specific knowledge and skills such as software, technical ability and license or certificate requirements.
And any other task as assigned
I have never read a job description that does not end with a line about other duties, tasks or assignments. Yes this is included to respond to the dreaded, “It’s not my job.” Include a sentence for this purpose but don’t add in a long list of extraneous items just in case they may be required.
A description that includes lots of extras can confuse an employee. After the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 employers rushed to add standing, sitting, bending and lifting requirements to all job descriptions. Does the receptionist really need to be able to lift 25 pounds? The amendments to the
None is better than poor
I would rather hear there is no description than one that is poorly written, has little relevance for the job or includes experience requirements that do not reflect an incumbent in any way. If your job descriptions are 20 years old with requirements for knowledge of outdated computer skills or any processes that have been supplanted by new technology scrap them. Clear the space out until the job description task can be tackled properly.