“Job descriptions are useless (and they’re a pain to write).”
I’ve heard it so many times. You probably think the same.
Some will tell you can’t hire without them. Fair point.
Others will tell you they’re obsolete as soon as you’ve finished writing them, which can be true too.
And you’ll even hear people claiming that a bad job description is the main cause of unsuccessful hires.
So, administrative chore or useful tool?
When used the right way, a job description can give you more benefits than you might think.
Can’t believe it could become a tool for to help achieve development goals and motivation?
Keep on reading.
Job description = a reference for team leaders
A good role profile is there to capture the attention of potential candidates.
But it doesn’t stop there. Its hidden benefit is to explain what the role is about, and why it matters in the context of the business unit.
This is the part most managers miss. They think, once drafted, they can forget about the job description until they need it again.
• Related: How NOT to hire team members in panic mode
In reality, job descriptions are a useful reference to check that you have the right level of experience and seniority, for the right roles and at the right level.
If you compare your current team landscape to how you initially designed it, you can see whether some roles have changed. Is your current organisation structure the best way to maximise performance? Are all the roles aligned to the right people? Is it time to introduce middle management?
Your role profiles tell you to what extent your “ideal team” has become a reality. Using them as a reference gives you an indication of the maturity your team. They will show you if you have room for evolution.
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Job description = a way to challenge individual progress
Even though flexibility is a fantastic asset in the workplace, you’d be surprised how much people like to have a frame of reference for their job.
Having said that, the new generation certainly won’t bother with an extra piece of paper. And I get the point that when you discuss performance, you will review objectives first. But the ability to re-frame the conversation around the original perimeters of the job can come in handy.
A simple exercise you can do is to ask your team member to read their job description and do 2 things:
- cross out what’s she’s not been doing over the past few months
- add what she would, ideally, like to see in 6 months’ time
If it results in a job description that is transformed inside-out, it’s a sign that the employee, or the role, has to evolve…or both.
So what could the development plan look like? Do you need to revisit the responsibilities of this role, or across the team? Is it time to stretch individual objectives?
Setting objectives (individual or collective goals) with your employees is performance in action. As a mindful leader, you want to make sure that the way you measure individual progress is sensible. This is where the role profiles come into play; they are a point of reference for a positive conversation around your employees’ long-term development. It becomes a tool to assess if the role still brings value to the individual, and vice versa.
Need to build trust? Put your team in charge of role profiles
For many team leaders, preparing a job description is a chore, as opposed to a tool for growth. As hiring often happens in panic mode, they will try to overcome shortfalls and put something together quickly. In this context, they get terrible results.
So why not delegate this task to your team? Unless the role is very senior and requires discretion, your crew can have valid input in what their day-to-day should look like.
Your team has insights into the skills and personalities that work well together. (Check my autumn series on the 4 personalities you need to educate a high-performing team – part 1 and part 2)
By being given the opportunity to work on the wider team’s development, they will surely feel more valued. But that’s not all! You could ask them to go deeper and review current job descriptions. Do they think some tasks could be part of a new role? What would they do if they had extra space within their current jobs?
Having the team involved in expansion is a sure sign that you lead teams through trust. It provides them with an opportunity to articulate their personal requirements for success. It creates an inclusive atmosphere of transparency. Not only are these powerful factors in motivation, but they invite the team to think collectively about the future and make strategy real. It gives birth to a creative vision that will be useful to convey to the new hires!
Even though you could view role profiles as useless administrative paperwork, you can turn this chore to your advantage! Job descriptions can be used as a reference for individual development. You can leverage your role profiles to create a shared vision for the future. At your end, it can help you evaluate if it’s time to develop your team dynamics further.
So next time you hear someone saying their role profiles do not matter, prove them wrong!
What do you think of job descriptions? Useless or useful? Share your opinions below!