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Why have formal job descriptions?

As a business grows it becomes more challenging to maintain lines of communication and to ensure that all employees are aligned to the achievement of the same company vision. Having formal job descriptions can help this process of alignment.

The development process for job descriptions can ‘flush out’ any misunderstandings about roles, ensure that there is no overlap between roles and help in placing people in jobs to which they are best suited. The development process should be highly interactive with the jobholder, who ideally should draft the first version of the job description.

The following steps are suggested in order to develop a job description.

Step 1. Explore the reasons why the job exists. Can you see clearly how the job contributes to the ‘bottom line’ and achievement of the company vision. Fundamental role redefinition may be required.

Step 2. Determine key accountabilities (max 7) – duties, responsibilities, key result areas/measures of performance, critical success factors, level of authority, interaction with internal and external customers, people management etc .

 Step 3. Prioritize accountabilities in order of importance – essential to understand what areas are critical to performance of the role and which are ‘nice to have’.

Step 4. Determine expected time % allocation for each accountability – required to determine whether, for example, the jobholder is spending too much time on low level administration tasks.

Question – does current jobholder agree with key accountabilities, and prioritization/ time allocation for each one?

Step 5. Knowledge and skills required to perform job – Examples: technical skills, problem solving, creativity, ability to develop and follow processes, ability to delegation and motivate, time management.

Consider the ideal behaviours and motivators for the position. Does the jobholder require a high level of emotional intelligence eg to deal with ‘difficult’ people, handle deadline pressure, sudden changes to priorities?

Question–does current jobholder have the required skills, experience, behaviors /motivators and emotional intelligence to be successful in the position? Is there a personal development need or is he/she fundamentally unsuited to the role?

 Final job description should include Title, short Role description, Reporting line, Key Accountabilities, and Key Performance indicators.



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