Do Job Descriptions Help Convey Priorities?
In a recent post, one of my favorite speakers and authors, Seth Godin, implores executives to be as specific as possible when writing job specifications for freelance help. Being highly detailed about what good work looks like from the outset can increase the likelihood that we will get what we are looking for in the finished product. Sounds about right. So why is it that specifications are often written in a way that can best be described as vague and non-specific? Too busy, too much trouble or just too difficult?
The same case for specificity can be made for job descriptions. Yet, the same level of vagueness and lack of identified priorities can be found in typical corporate job descriptions. For those organizations that actually have them, they often reflect the kind of perfunctory, “check the box” approach that limits a real understanding of job performance expectations and evaluation.
Recently, I asked a group of business owners to share with me a sampling of the job descriptions they use for their supervisors and managers. While this “back of the envelope” exercise is far from scientific, it did yield some interesting results.
One glaringly consistent characteristic is the sheer number of items listed in each job description; from as few as twelve to as many as twenty. The paradox of this approach is that in attempting to be as thorough and complete as possible, the typical job description only serves to confuse and dilute what should be its primary purpose. That is, to help each employee focus on the relevant few responsibilities that will have a direct impact on high-level performance which drives overall corporate objectives.
A far better approach is to shelve the job description and create a customized, job performance process which clearly delineates and prioritizes key job responsibilities, links them to specific goals and incorporates expected job-related behaviors tied to organizational values.
This unique process, called Dynamic Performance Management has helped bring needed clarity and simplicity to a process that, in my experience, is in dire need of an overhaul.
For more information and to learn more about the Dynamic Performance Management process, contact me at email@example.com.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.