Red Zebra Business Centre -Management Memos
May, 2007. Make Measurably More In Your Business!

Marking More Than 21 Years of Service to Small and Medium Business.

great new
additions to The Red Zebra

1. Full line CRM to help you get gold from your customer list.


Local software maker meets local management specialist. A great way to maximize your sales push.

2. Full line support  to get the best from your accounting software.


Make your bookkeeping and accounting easier. Choose the right software.  Maximise the effectiveness of your internal systems.

To find out more!

Click Here

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Obvious really.  They're 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 description?

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 was seriously concerned about very poor performance in a sales person, vital for overall success. The owner had no more "shots in the locker" to improve things, 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.

Is your idea of the "job" really reasonable?

A few 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 more money.

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.

In addition, if they got any of that wrong, there would be no commission.

With all that technical stuff to handle while working in the customer's home, it's a wonder they ever got around to 'selling'!

Only by considering the job in detail, did the full extent of the skill requirements and training needs become clear.

While lots 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 1.    Responsibilities
Every employee has some 'responsibilities' to discharge. Write down each 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 "" 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 person, chances are that  some more work needs to be done on streamlining the structure!

Layer 2.    Duties

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 specifying 'duties'?

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.

Layer 3.    Tasks
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 'Quickbooks' software.

Now that the responsibilities and duties are 'taped', you can complete the trifecta and write up all the tasks each person has to carry out.

Layer 4.    Review and Reward
database marketingThis 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.

Sounds like a lot of work, and we've been going alright without all this gobbledegook! 

Sure, but if you want to be the best, don't overlook this aspect of your business.  Like 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 no charge or obligation, and you get a whole hour's consultation free.  This same offer also applies in New Zealand.