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Why Job Descriptions are Critical to Success & Your 5 Step Guide to Writing One

We are regularly floored when we recruit for roles and ask for an up to date job description… only to be told one does not exist.

We’ve said it before in previous posts and we’ll say it again: having job descriptions for every role in your business – including everyone from the Mailroom to the Boardroom – is critical to the success of your business. Why? Here are some of the key areas of your business that will benefit from having clear job descriptions in place – and that will suffer if this is absent or lacking.

Attraction and Recruitment

A job description helps you (and us) find the right person to begin with. If you have a clear idea of what works in terms of characteristics, complementary skill sets, career ambitions and experience, then there’s a much higher chance you’ll pick up on any misalignments shown by candidates in the recruitment process. Hint: Look to the superstars in your team for a good guideline! We suggest you also invest some time into personality typing and job profiling to find out what type of candidate will naturally suit the role. Once you get the gist, you won’t need to profile every candidate, you will start to be able to identify language and behaviour you may have missed in the past.

Organisational Structure – Everyone Knows How, When & Why they do their Job

Having a clear job description is even more critical for entry level and graduate roles than it is for senior ones because these junior team members lack the business acumen and professional code of conduct of their more experienced colleagues. That means they require structure to know what expectations the business has of them and how to ensure that they achieve them. A good job description will also outline what impact this role has on the rest of the business, keeping your team members feeling engaged with the rest of the team and the business goals, this kind of group belonging is a key motivator for most people.  If everyone in the business is clear on what they need to do and how they need to do it and goes about doing their job interdependently, the operation becomes like a well-oiled machine and group goals are much easier to achieve.

Performance

Not only should a job description outline key performance indicators and describe how they are tracked, but a good one will detail why these KPIs matter and what happens to the rest of the team, internal stakeholders, clients and the like if they are not met. It is easier to manage KPIs and motivate team members towards achieving them if an individual can see how their results are tied in to the big picture objectives of the business. If they can’t see it or don’t care – then you’re having a different conversation. Having set expectations in place will help Managers in their weekly one on one meetings track against the key performance indicators of this role, and address any issues that come up in a structured and objective manner.

So, we’ve covered that an accurate, succinct job description will help you find the right people, help them feel valued, and help you manage their performance more effectively. And the best bit? For all that added value, they don’t require a huge investment of time. Here is a fool proof structure you can start with that should take you less than an hour to put together:

1.      Job Title

A job title should be descriptive of the actual role someone does day to day, i.e. don’t title a role Marketing & Sales Coordinator if the person has nothing to do with marketing – it will just set expectations that will not be met. Sticking to the basics to begin with will also give you somewhere to go when it comes time to promote them and add to their responsibilities. Everyone loves a title change!

2.      Organisational Chart – Include who they report to and what departments they liaise with

For a junior team member, it can take a while to understand the structure of a business, particularly if it’s a larger organisation. Providing a detailed organisational chart will help an employee see the big picture and where they fit, and who they should go to for what. Map out which departments they need to liaise with to achieve which role objectives, and any external relationships / functions they need to know about to perform their job successfully.

3.      The Impact this role has on the Business

As mentioned, this will help someone connect with the greater business goals. This section should describe how their role impacts their immediate team, internal stakeholders, clients and external parties if they are not met. In other words, what functions of the business depend on them to be there every day. There’s nothing like making someone feel valued, important and engaged than by showing them what organisational impact it has if they’re not there or slacking off.

 4.      Key Responsibilities

Outline all of the key responsibilities of the role, including the main activities to be undertaken and what the person is expected to achieve (e.g. in the case of the Internal Sales Executive, this might include “connect with 20 new business contacts per day, tracked in CRM.” The key component to this is specificity, and how and when their results will be tracked by their Manager

 5.      Don’t forget to add the company flavour!

If your company has a unique culture, use language that communicates that in the job descriptions you write. The best example of this is a company we work with that says “You will not suit this role if you wear Crocs.” Brilliant! Keep it informative, but mix it up with what counts in your business and your team – it’ll help you identify like-minded people when they say “I love that part!”

The most consistent feedback we get from our Rookie Coaches who work with entry level and junior employees is that when a Rookie is having performance issues it is mostly due to unclear or absent communication of expectations around performance indicators, responsibilities, behaviours and the role they play in the success of the business – all which could be addressed immediately by having an accurate job description in place.

While you might think the provided structure is simplistic, if it is written in a succinctly and unambiguously it is really all you need. Don’t get lost in pages and pages of documentation – they won’t remember it and Managers will find it too hard to track every role. Keeping your people crystal clear on their goals, accountabilities and expectations is critical to the success of their career, their immediate team and the greater business objectives. Remember, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!

  • Deborah Pearson says:

    Hi team. I love this article on Job Descriptions and wonder if you have a sample that you’re willing to share?

    Cheers
    Debs

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