Five Reasons your Job Descriptions are Conspiring Against your Employees.

Every executive knows  job descriptions are important. How to create them, what to do with them, and how to keep them relevant is often a mystery.

Job descriptions are the most concrete way a job is communicated to employees. Unfortunately, some attempts at Job Descriptions communicate unintended things to your employees. Here are a 5 ways your job descriptions might be falling short and ideas of what to do about it.

  1. It is just a long list of tasks. While a critical part of a job description is communicating responsibilities, it shouldn’t be a long list of tasks. A Job description that is a laundry list communicates that the job is as exciting a laundry list. The long list may contain valuable information but it doesn’t all need to go in the job description. The job description can include categories of tasks that fit together in a single line and point to processes or job aids such as checklists that contain all the specifics.
  2. It doesn’t tell the employee why their job exists. A quality job description not only tells an employee what to do, it tells them the purpose for their job. This is especially important with Millennials who are more likely to find their job satisfaction in the difference they make in the world than from completing their todo list. An overarching purpose for a job helps en employee put all their responsibilities in perspective.
  3. It doesn’t tell employees what is important. A job description that is only a list of responsibilities doesn’t tell the employee what parts of their job are most important. The result of this is your employees setting priorities based on whatever feels urgent at the moment as opposed to the things that make the most difference in the company’s success. A quality job description not only makes sure all the responsibilities are covered but helps the employee understand which responsibilities are the priority at any particular time. When an employee is faced with a mass of responsibilities without communication about where to focus it makes them feel overwhelmed and they leave work every day not knowing if they accomplished anything. A Job description with 2-5 high level clear objectives explains why all the responsibilities in the job description exist.
  4. No one has looked at it for years. There are times when working on job descriptions are the focus, usually when someone wants to hire someone new, create a new position or an executive attends a seminar that mentions them. Lots of work will be put into them and then they won’t be looked at for months or years. By the time we get back to them, they are completely irrelevant or out of date. Keeping job descriptions up to date takes a combination of tenacity and strategy.
  5. It isn’t cohesive. A job description should have a flow and make sense as a whole. Especially in small companies, people will have diverse responsibilities that are often completely unrelated to each other. There are a few solutions for this. Employees may actually have two different part-time positions they are dividing their time between. Two jobs would require two different job descriptions. If it feels impossible to put everything someone does into cohesive job descriptions, it is possible the issue is with the job; can their responsibilities be shifted in the company in a way so they allow more people to have more focus in what they do?

I hope some of these ideas help in creating job descriptions that make a difference in the lives of your employees and drive your company towards success.

This article is by Eric Webb Prentice who is oddly excited about helping executives create job descriptions that help drive job satisfaction and company success.