I remember my first job out of high school. I was lucky enough to get to work in the big city! I was eager to start earning some money and figure out what the heck to do with the rest of my life. That year I figured I would climb the company ladder and soon be telling others what to do. No I was not working in some hot shot office. I was sweeping the cold hard concrete floor of the high rise apartment underground. The excitement took about two days to wear off and before I knew it I was done. I distinctly remember one day where I just cleaned a 2500 sq. Ft space over and over. While there are many lessons to be taken from this little snippet, I would like to focus on job description. See I was not given one, I was just told to clean up. I know that I was in a low level job, being paid comparatively little, but the ideas, I believe, are applicable all the way up the ladder.
In an article for Psychology Today, Victor Lipman says, “Well designed performance objectives are clear, meaningful, measurable, aligned with broader organizational goals, etc”. For me it might have been helpful if I was told, “Hey we would love it if you could clean up half the slab each day”. Maybe one of the organization’s goals could have been to be the safest workplace in the industry. My cleaning up could have had a direct impact by eliminating trip hazards, etc. You get the point. Giving your employee clear direct directions on what to do and why it is important…is important!
Another reason to practice clear communication in this area is hiring. A 2012 Monster survey revealed that meaningless jargon, confusing job titles and spelling and grammar mistakes kept them (potential applicants) from applying for jobs (Insperity.com). Or to put it another way, “if the roles in your team don’t seem clear to you, then they probably aren’t clear to others either” (Ben Brearly). If you want your new hires to be able to hit the ground running, you need to start with a great job description! This will allow you to not only find the right person for the job but to also give them the info they need to do their best.
As Verne Harnish says in his book, “Scaling Up”, “the strength of your people comes from the right leadership doing the right things right”. While having a clear job description is only part of this process, it is still a part. Without it employees will be prone to fall into doing the wrong things wrong.
With that said here are 3 quick tips to get you on the right track…
Be concise and eliminate unnecessary words. One article on Insperity.com pointed out that “…job descriptions should be stripped of unnecessarily complex, ambiguous, or informal language”.
Meaningful, Measurable & aligned with the broader purpose. While this one may take some time to hash out, it is guaranteed to save time when instead of hiring over and over again for the same position, you hire the right one the first time!
Review Regularly. In this fast paced world with always advancing technology and ways of doing business it is a good idea to regularly review if the job description still fits the role. While it might seem like a waste of time, I can bet that you will be glad you did!
If you are looking for help in how to create clear and defined job descriptions in your company a coach can help with that. At OnBoard coaching we have the expertise and drive to see your business succeed and would love to partner with you in this way!