May 9, 2012
One of the first questions that one might ask in preparing a job description is, what do I hope to accomplish? What should a job description actually do for the organization and the person in the job?
Those with lower expectation might say; Collect as much dust as possible. Since dust collection is what most job descriptions actually do, collecting the most dust would be considered superior performance.
Some, however, want more. Those wanting to maximize individual performance, know that before you can be the best you can, you must at least know at what you wish to be the best. I mean setting objective is important, very important. The single most frequent comment from candidate that go on job interview is, “I not sure what their expectations are.” How sad that is. Most organizations want to hire superior people and may even do so, but often put these people in the wrong job.
Establishing clarity around the expectations of a job requires more than a list of “dos and haves.”
- We have found that the most effective job descriptions are plain, simple documents that are usually one page only and consist of just 3 parts; What a person in this job is expected to do on a daily basis. We title this section, General Duties and Responsibilities and limit them to 10.
- They also contain 3-5 minimum acceptable outcomes (measurable and time limited), that if unaccomplished on a frequent and ongoing basis, are grounds for termination. We call these Mission Critical Outcomes.
- Additionally they define 3-5 outcomes that would be considered “break-through (also measurable and time limited).” Achievements that would make everyone happy. We refer to these a Break-Through Outcomes.
Developing a simple, clear, one-page Job Description is the beginning, yet essential piece to getting superior performance in any job. The most important step, however, toward getting superior performance is making sure that the person in the job sees the expectations of the job and understands that their performance will be judged against the outcomes set out in the Job Description.
The very best way we have found to make certain the person hired for the job understands the expectations, is to ask them to read it, initial it and date it before the interviewing process begins, then once again early in the on-boarding process and to use it in coaching sessions with the hiring manager as a gage of how the employee is doing.
So for effective job descriptions:
- Make them simple, one-page documents
- Make certain the right people actually read what is expected of someone in that job
- Have them verify having read the document by asking them to sign and dated the job description.
- Review it with them frequently
Job Descriptions matter only if someone actually reads them and accepts the standards they set.