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Wot, No Job Description? Crappy Performance Management Rule Number 4.


If you really want to make a disconnect between performance management and your staff here are three must haves for your teams Job Descriptions:

1.  The old ones are the good ones:  Why go to the bother of updating perfectly good JD’s?  If you’ve an old one that’s been faithful in the past, then save yourself the effort and issue it again.  Even better, you might have a good one from a previous employer, search it out and get this time wasting activity out of the way.  No one ever looks at them anyway!

2.  Make the job title as flash as you can:  If you have to tart up an old JD, then go for a flash title.  The grander the better.  People love to feel important, so dream up the biggest title possible for the role in question.  

3.  Don’t tie your kangaroo down sport:  Keep any JD as vague as you possibly can, that way you can get them to do anything you need.  After all a flexible team is key.  

OK, so none of us would really subscribe to these guidelines would we?  Scan them again asking whether they could (even in part) be leveled at your own organisations Job description practices.  It’s often not that difficult to find more than a hint of these practices in our organisations, let’s make sure it’s not us that’s doing it. 

Performance Management should be built on an effective foundation, that starts with writing robust and clear Job Descriptions.  Let’s flip these three crappy rules around into better ones.  

1.  Job Descriptions become dated as soon as you’ve written them:  The fact is people often dismiss the value of JD’s because they have the potential to become out of date very quickly.  Not only should we start with a clean sheet when we are writing a JD, we should make time to regularly review existing ones.  If you do this it will send a very strong message to your team about the direction of your function, about your seriousness with doing what we should be doing, and about the value you have for supporting the team.  Never pull out an old JD and pass it on.  Start with a good job analysis, use your team to support this activity and craft the new document.  If you’re revisiting the JD because someone is leaving, then interview them about the job they were doing, then ask how what you have learned impacts what you do next, and use your knowledge to influence the new version.  

2.  Ensure that the job title will attract the write candidate:  Avoid at all costs the temptation to ‘over-egg’ the job title.  It is the main trigger for attracting new candidates to the role, it  is the thing that they will latch onto first, and if done badly can attract all the wrong people to your recruitment process.  If you had a vacancy for a systems support role you might give it the title of Systems Manager or perhaps Systems Specialist, think about it, these two titles have the potential to attract very different applicants.  

3.  Make the language used as specific as possible:  A vague JD does not correlate with having a flexible team, more often it creates confusion.  Use very clear descriptions of what is needed to do the job, trying always to remove ambiguity.  Avoid fashionable but meaningless phrases such as “computer literate” - They can mean a hundred different  things to a hundred different people.  The more specific you are the better able you will be to judge role suitability, and the better the employee will be at developing the required capabilities.  For recruitment make sure you differentiate between role ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’ competencies / requirements, it will help you to see which applicants are in the race at all, and for those that are which can offer your team the most.  

You may have heard biblical parable of the man who built his house on the sand, and his peer who built on the rock.  Great performance management should start with a rock like foundation - despite all the corporate criticism they receive Job Descriptions offer you the opportunity build a strong effective team that will take less of your precious resource to performance manage the results you require.  Perhaps it’s even a good time for a complete team JD review?  Go on, build your team on a solid foundation. 

See here for Crappy Performance Management Rule 3.   

Bob Bannister

Twitter: @bbbannister @iManage

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