Job Descriptions – the Essential Building Blocks

September 11, 2022by Jennifer Murray0

Recently we have seen an increased interest from organizations that want to re-evaluate their job descriptions. Why do our clients care about job descriptions? Like the supply chain shortages, labor shortages, wage increases, and the great resignation, we could say that the pandemic prompted it. But did it? We won’t point to COVID-19 for this trend!

During the strategic business planning process, organizations update goals and objectives. As organizations evolve, refocus, reorganize, and realign with new market opportunities, jobs change. Given that job descriptions are foundational building blocks that document how each role supports organizational goals and objectives, they should be updated as well. When you ask your team members to pivot, are you asking them to do different job tasks, change how they are completing their tasks, or perform new tasks? Updating their job descriptions to capture these changes sets clear expectations during the talent acquisition process, new hire onboarding, and supports both formal and informal job reviews.

The job description helps during the talent acquisition process by describing the job duties, responsibilities, required skills, and experience. Historically, a college degree was commonly required for professional positions. More recently, organizational leaders have re-evaluated the need for formal education and some changed their focus to skills gained through experience. In the article, What’s My Job, Again? The Fine Art of Crafting the Job Description, Christopher Massimine shares the skills-based hiring approach. “Only require specifics on education and accreditations if there is an absolute need. You don’t want to hire a surgeon who hasn’t graduated from medical school, but you don’t need an MBA to oversee operations, just practical experience.”We also consider looking at the levels of each required skill. For example, does the position require basic written communication skills or a higher level of proficiency?

Let’s look at job descriptions from a new hire perspective. A recent study showed that in the U.S., 52% of employees with tenures of 3 months or less are looking to leave.2 There are a variety of reasons new hires are quickly disenchanted. Sometimes they leave when the advertised position falsely represented what the team member would be doing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We do not recommend using job descriptions in their entirety to advertise open positions. Cutting and pasting a job description to a job board does very little to attract candidates to the culture of the organization. Posting jobs that describe the culture, state the mission, and core values helps to determine if there is a potential culture fit. However, during the recruiting process, the job candidate should gain a clear understanding of what he/she may be signing up to do for the next weeks, months, and potentially – years. It is better to find out if the role matches the candidate’s expectations and experience before you and your team members use resources to onboard the new team member.

Once the new team member starts the onboarding process, the job duties, skills, knowledge, and responsibilities should be incorporated in the training curriculum. Another common reason that new team members leave during the first 90-days is lack of job training. We have heard from numerous individuals about their frustration during their initial days at a new job. They encountered a lack of structure and long days full of idle time.

Fast forward to the next performance review. Are you reviewing your team member’s performance based upon an old job description or have you previously set expectations for the modified role? Updating the job description in advance makes the performance review simple and meaningful.

Consider the interim periods of time when a leader may be disappointed with the team member’s performance. The leader can review the job activities outlined on the job description while having a collaborative discussion with the team member on what has been observed and what needs to change.

When we conducted stay interviews with an organization, we learned that team members wanted more feedback during periods of high turnover. They felt unsettled by the sudden departures in different areas of the company. Informal feedback demystifies concerns about organizations quietly downsizing. In absence of feedback tied to the job description, team members felt uncertain about where they stood. Some of them shared that they were tempted to keep an eye out for another opportunity in case they were next in line for an involuntary termination. Team leaders also appreciate the clarity a job description provides as an assessment tool during those discussions. It saves them time and increases their efficiency.

Like performance reviews, updating job descriptions isn’t always at the top of the leader’s list of favorite things to do, but the time investment adds value throughout the employee journey.

 

1 Massimine, Christopher. What’s My Job, Again? The Fine Art of Crafting the Job Description; August 25, 2022.

2 The Lattice Team, Lattice Research Reveals Great Resignation Trends; https://lattice.com/library/lattice-research-reveals-great-resignation-trends. April 12, 2022.

 

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Headquarters
230 Hampton Woods Lane, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27607
Satellite Office
2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
Where to find us
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/img-footer-map1.jpg