If you have a terrible job description your chances of developing talent are zero! Okay, so that might not be exactly true but when have you been the happiest at work? I have always been happy when life seemed simpler. On closer inspection I find that simpler does not actually mean without complexity, challenges or rewards.
Simpler means that I have a defined set of boundaries, a defined set of resources and a defined scope of outcomes that I can need to achieve. That’s it – a job decent job description – I told you.
Not convinced just yet, I thought not. Let me try and come at it from another angle – the poor job description. The “jobvert” is the worst job description as it is really a grouping of some characteristics with a list of ALL the possible activities that you need to be able to perform. How often have you discovered your job description is merely the jobvert on a letterhead?
The more sophisticated job description goes into some great length describing your job, the activities you need to be doing and many even detail the outcomes that you need to achieve. The all important caveat is also always there – “and anything else we think you should be doing to help us achieve our goals.”
The best job description I ever came cross was the one that has prompted me to write this article. It was a very simple one-page document which introduced the candidate to the company’s formal name, explained who they talk to about human resource issues and then in one line said the following: “We expect you to perform the activities of “specific role” outlined in our organisation’s processes, whilst continually improving such activities to ensure the desired outcome of each process is achieved.”
But wait, that is so vague. It is vague, when it is read without the organisation’s processes. When you look at the organisation’s processes and more specifically the activities that the specific role must do and improve, the job description is the delegation of authority to go and do a job and do it well, improve it and mould it to make our organisation better at achieving it’s objectives.
The key therefore is in your processes – if you have terrible or ill defined processes your job description will be full of waffle, caveats and other nonsense just in case you miss a trick. If your processes are well defined, or even ‘just’ defined, the improvement of them will always improve your organisation as long as the outcomes are aligned with your strategic goals.
Are we saying that job descriptions are reliant on decent strategic goals – in a word – YES. The cynical amongst us may say that this is obvious especially as everything is dependent on a decent strategic goal. My challenge to you is looking at a job description you have for anyone in your organisation, can you see how they are helping you achieve you strategic goal – is there even a link? If the link is not obvious then you need to rethink that job description and at the same time understand what your goals are.