employed as a secretary, so they do the secretarial work. Perhaps
they're a retail assistant who serves in the store. What else
is there to say? They should know their jobs. Then why is this fully trained doctor reading a job
In fact, it's not quite as simple as it seems. Employers have
considerable power, and this
imbalance of power makes it difficult for employees to ask some
of the questions that really matter. Many employees don't go
'full tilt', just because they don't know what their job
really is - and they don't want to ask!
In a recent real life situation, an owner
concerned about very poor performance in a sales person, vital
overall success. The owner had no more "shots in the locker" to improve
so the employee was sent for "counselling" - 'Get good, or Get out!'.
As it turned out, the employee had also been very unhappy with the work
situation. One look at the job description, and it was clear that how
the employee wanted to work,
was exactly what the employer wanted too! With that misunderstanding
solved, sales shot
up. All because at last, the job had been spelled out clearly.
your idea of the "job" really reasonable?A
years ago, in a sales training program for sales staff, we needed to
define exactly what the sales people were being asked to do. Once we
started the process, the owner asked us to stop, because he was afraid
his staff would discover their true value to the business, and ask for
Nominally sales people, these staff had
to advise clients on interior decorating, determine how the installing
technicians would work, specify how the products were to look and how
they were to be made, and measure for the job.
addition, if they got any of that wrong, there would be no commission.
all that technical stuff to handle while working in the customer's
home, it's a wonder they ever got around to 'selling'!
by considering the job in detail, did the full extent of the skill
requirements and training needs become clear.
of employers don't bother with the
"formalities", and things seems to keep going without any problems,
misunderstandings always occur if there is no clear, written
understanding of what is expected of the employee. There are
significant performance gains to be had by observing these simple
guidelines to create a four layer job (or position) description..Layer
Every employee has some
'responsibilities' to discharge. Write down
one of them. Generally they will be written in "functional' words -
like "completing all daily banking duties", or "maintaining stock in a
clean condition". Notice the "..ing" in each
'responsibility'. It's not hard to identify and specify
what the 'responsibilities' of each position really are.
The hardest part is knowing when to stop. We always
seem to expect too much!
If you have more than five responsibilities for a single
chances are that some more work needs to be done on
streamlining the structure!
To discharge each of these 'responsibilities',
every employee has
'duties'. Check back to the first example above -"completing all daily
banking duties". See how the 'responsibilities' lead to
The duties each employee has to perform are also easily
identified. For example, "Enter invoices into the computer".
Notice that the way the 'duty' is written does not use
words! Write down all the duties for each employee.
To perform these 'duties', employees have to do
'tasks', and that
requires skill. Be sure your
employees have all the skills they need to do the tasks you require.
In performing the 'duty' of entering invoices, the task of
"Write an invoice in 'Quickbooks'", would require training in the
Now that the responsibilities and duties are
complete the trifecta and write up all the tasks each person has to
Review and Reward
This is the hardest part of the lot, and too
involved to discuss in this short newsletter. It is sufficient to say
here that not setting out how the job performance will be judged, and
how that will affect the pay, are very serious barriers to getting the
best out of any employee. Perhaps we will deal
with these complex, but vitally important, parts of the job description
in future issues.
a lot of work, and we've been going alright without all this
but if you want to be the best, don't overlook this aspect of your
to talk to someone to help
you with your job design and job descriptions?
If you'd like
to find out more about Improving staff performance quickly, talk
to us, or ask us a question here! Remember, there's
charge or obligation, and you get a whole
hour's consultation free. This same offer also applies in New