What do Job Descriptions Accomplish?

Reasons why job descriptions are included in a discussion on leadership. What I’ve learned from my experiences:

1. Leaders usually don’t understand what their people do on a day-to-day basis, and how their work is prioritized. A good way to find out is to ask for a list of their top ten prioritized job responsibilities, and have the boss develop the same list for the employee (from their perspective), and then compare. I would guess these lists won’t look alike.

2 Job descriptions provide the leader with another opportunity to communicate with members the importance of the work they perform. Everyone appreciates recognition for their contribution. Discussing responsibilities and listing them in a job or team description is a form of recognition.

3 Without written descriptions it’s difficult, if not impossible to discuss performance, set goals, or develop necessary skills to improve productivity.

4 Written descriptions clarify the division of work, and help determine training needs.

5 Written descriptions provide direction. We’ve all had the experience watching someone perform an activity we thought was menial, but was not. Descriptions can help minimize these experiences, and provide the opportunity for an objective discussion when these situations do occur.

What is the process for writing job descriptions?

1 It’s important that the leader demonstrate commitment to the process. How? Initiate the discussion, discuss why the process is important, and provide encouragement and support.

2 Write a version of the job description along with the incumbent.

3 Compare the descriptions and discuss any differences.

4 Write a consensus version (it’s important to reach consensus)

5 Set yearly review dates with incumbents to update the description. Jobs change, and the yearly review is important to ensure work is prioritized, and equally divided.

Subordinates may not have the knowledge required to write descriptions and shy away from attempting to write one. Give them the information to help them get started, and then provide encouragement.

Job descriptions should include:

-job title, and last revision date

-major job responsibilities (prioritized), but not every responsibility

-knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the job

-training and experience required

-learning time

-complexity of duties

-problem-solving skills required

This is a valuable process that will pay for itself in increased job satisfaction, and it will provide an objective basis for discussions centered on performance, goals, and setting priorities.

“An excellent manager can see to it that work is done productively and efficiently, on schedule, and with a high level of quality. It remains for the effective leader, however, to help people in the organization know pride and satisfaction in their work.” (Warren Bennis)

Author: maxbinkley

Creator of Leadership to the Max My experience in the military helped set the career path for me in human resources. After the military I worked for The Dow Chemical Company and left there in 1993 to venture out on my own. I purchased a small business, then a franchise then started another business in semi-retirement.

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