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Underestimating the Power of a Job Description!

When I speak to companies about job descriptions, the response can be quite adverse, giving rise to negative connotations. It is often perceived as a paper-based exercise and thereafter lost in the ever-growing sub directories of the company’s computer system.

When you start a new business, is it essential to have a Business Plan?

Absolutely! I would concur with that. A Business Plan has key elements in setting out the company’s product or service, an analysis of the market and its competitors, what the marketing and sales strategy will be, funding needs and financial projection and, of course, a description of the management and organisation.

The description of management and organisation expands to cover the type of business it will be; for example, sole trader, limited company, partnership, etc. It also provides a picture of the proposed organisational structure and what roles needed from operations through to sales… and therein lies the need for a job description.

Clearly implicit in your structure is the need for people in your organisation to understand what they will be responsible for doing and how they will contribute to the success of the company.

Well-defined job descriptions along with a contract and an employee handbook are the critical documents that a company requires at the outset– closely followed by good recruitment processes and an excellent onboarding approach (see my previous blog on “Onboarding”).

A well-defined job description supports many aspects in the HR lifecycle including areas such as recruitment, performance management, training, job evaluation, talent management, and succession planning.

Creating a job description is not a pen and paper exercise, if used well it can drive the ethos of the company.

What is the purpose of a Job Description and What Can it Achieve?

Of course, Sales is Sales and Marketing is Marketing. However, applying a Sales or Marketing role to your own company, there is a need to emphasise the uniqueness required and indeed will assist in defining your USP (unique selling point). Therefore, defining what your company requires from staffing positions within the company are crucial.

It is important to ensure that the job description is not too restrictive but equally not too generic. A job description should assist in shaping the culture of the organisation an aspect which is quite often forgotten.
Regularly I am asked about matters of capability of staff in companies and how to address and resolve these issues. When I have analysed the situation, on many occasions it’s not necessarily “the What” the person is delivering it is more about “the How”.

The What Versus the How – Equal Emphasis?

“The What” emphasises exactly that: what does the role entail, what are the key accountabilities and responsibilities of the role, any specific qualifications and skills required and experience where necessary?

However, what someone is accountable for and what they deliver in a role can be wholly transformed positively or negatively by how they have delivered in that role.

“The How” emphasises the behaviours expected of an individual to deliver the role –in some larger companies these are called competency frameworks. Quite often you will see the words “team working” or “good communication” and this is a good step towards identifying “the How”.

This is often a great opportunity missed by smaller and medium-sized companies to define and set out the level expected for each role in aspects such as:
• Achieving Quality / Going the Extra Mile/ Delivering a Great customer Service – this is about continuous improvement, all staff should – regardless of seniority – contribute to improving the
organisation’s efficiency.
• Problem Analysis and Resolution – Looking within and beyond their own role to recognise a problem, break it down to identify the core issues and suggesting ways forward for resolution.
• Building Relationships – How you can communicate and develop a connection and to collaborate
with people in and outside the company to bring it greater success.
• Influencing – to demonstrate positively an ability to influence and inspire people at differing levels. The more senior the position the greater the need there will be to define and include aspects such as
emotional intelligence; people management; strategic thinking and leadership capability.

“The How” can equally be transferrable into the recruitment process, particularly in the selection interventions such as an interview, observation activity or a presentation exercise.

In Summary

It is fair and reasonable for a company to outline what is expected of its staff, and it is also fair and reasonable to provide feedback if this is not being achieved. A company needs to define what it expects from the job both “the What” and “the How” to assess whether the individual is performing at or exceeding the appropriate level or not.
Never underestimate the power of a well-defined job description and how it can be the tool to drive success for your company. Spend the time in defining the behaviours – “The How” in your job roles which will in turn drive the positive and ambitious culture you desire in your company.

Getting Help to write Job Descriptions

Writing Job Descriptions can be time consuming. Contact us here at Bower HR Consultancy. We are experts in defining job descriptions which align to
industry standards, emphasising the uniqueness and behaviours you desire in job roles in your company.

We listen to your requirements and convert these to simple but well defined and easy to understand job descriptions.

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