I have to admit that I went through a phase of disliking the attention given to job descriptions – too inflexible, create a bunch of jobsworths, administrative overload to ensure every last task is included down to making the tea and so on.
Working in the SME sector has changed my mind based on the following experiences:
- Young people need to know what is expected of them. They have little real work experience so they need boundaries to define what is expected of them
- Managers with little recruitment experience need the structure provided by a job description to help avoid the halo effect that someone they like can do everything
- MDs of growing businesses need to understand where gaps are in their core business processes and job descriptions helps identify the gaps
- Equitable salary reviews are made easier when there is the foundation of good job descriptions to support decisions as they can be used to size the job to identify, for example, how much responsibility one job has compared to another.
So my top tips:
- Ensure all your staff have a job description (for reasons above)
- If staff are already in a job and don’t have a job description co-write it with them.
- Start with the real purpose of the job and who the job reports to (this can be both illuminating and difficult)
- Try and stick to 4 or 5 key tasks and responsibilities, with sub-bullets to highlight tasks if needed but keep it brief and ideally to one page. This provides focus on what the job is really about.
- Draw up a person specification outlining the essential and desirable attributes a person needs to have. This is essential for recruitment purposes.
As tempting as it is to avoid this admin, the motivational benefits and first impressions created for new employees is very powerful.
For further advice on this or any other HR matters, contact Stephen.Cowburn@lgba.co.uk
Author: Stephen Cowburn