I promised to tackle the elements of a good job description in my last blog post about structuring jobs in a start-up organization. Although the focus in that post was on which jobs were key to success and which were overkill in a fledgling organization, this post addresses any and all jobs in both new and established organizations.
Valuable Job Descriptions Focus on the “Have”, not the “Do”
Be you a supervisor or employee, let me ask, when was the last time you looked at your job description for guidance as to what you should be doing and what you are accountable for? “Never”, you say? Likely that is the case.
What is critical in a job description is that the employee know the results they are expected to create, not just the tasks to perform. Therein lies the difference between a valuable, useful job description and a sub-standard one. To be more specific, here are critical elements of a good job description and their definitions.
Purpose: Why does this job exist in the company at this point in time? For example for sales this might read: To generate revenue that maintains future viability and growth.
Products: What is this position supposed to deliver in the way of results that are important to the organization? Continuing with our sales example, the job description might read: Products/services sold at a profit; campaigns that generate interest in doing business with the company.
Process: Clarity on the inputs that prompt the person in this position to go to work. What is the work they are to complete when the inputs arrive, and what are the results expected from that work? In other word, what is the value that the employee adds?
Statistics: These are the measures that will tell that the employee’s work is creating the desired result. This is not a measure of the work getting done, but of the work’s impact. So back to our sales example, statistics might include: # campaign messages responded to, # volume of sales or the dollars of revenue.
That is it. Incorporate these four elements into your job descriptions and your employees will have far greater clarity on what it is needed and expected from them.
A final note
Small organizations and start ups often require their staff to carry out multiple functions, i.e. wear more than one “hat”. I recommend that you write up each of those hats separately as described above and list them separately on your organizational chart. This way, as the company grows, you simply take an individuals name off of one of those hats and job descriptions and hand it to the new hire. Structuring jobs based on individual talents or interests is a recipe for failure as it makes undoing those jobs when you grow extremely difficult.
Questions or comments? Contact me. I would be happy to discuss this information with you and to help you write up a sample job description to get the hang of it.