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Is a Job Analysis Right For Your Organization?

Your job analysis is doomed to failure if you do not first determine a clear need for it. You must identify the reasons you need such data.

The job analysis process is long and resource-intensive. Is it right for your organization? Read here to find out more.

For what purposes do you intend to use the data? Not doing this first means you are whistling in the wind. Employees whose jobs are being analyzed will not take you seriously unless you communicate to them why the job analysis is being conducted. Top management cannot possibly support a job analysis effort without clear rationale. Are you gathering job data to help in writing job descriptions or to help in preparing person specifications? If you are acquiring data for job descriptions, what do you want for job description structure and content? What will you use the job description for? All this should be clear to top management, analysts, and employees involved in the analysis.
 
Perhaps the job data are needed to accurately fill out wage surveys or to submit to outside investigating agencies. Perhaps usage of the data will be to gain insights into how to measure performance so that a contingent reward system can be established. Whatever the uses of the job data, they should be articulated, documented, and communicated. The purposes of a job analysis will help determine how to conduct the study and the specific pieces of data that need to be collected.
 
Decide Which Jobs to Cover
 
The boundaries of the data-gathering effort have to be decided and agreed upon. Usually, not all jobs in the organization have to be covered--only those jobs for which job data are needed. It may be that the organization has reason to cover those operative and managerial jobs within just one department or division, or it may be the organization wishes to analyze all jobs at one given level in the organization-- vaulting across departmental boundaries, but covering only a certain operative or managerial level.
 
The rationale for doing a job analysis should give clues as to what positions should be studied. The geographical dispersion of jobs will be another factor in determining what jobs to scrutinize in a given study. How much the company can invest in such a study is a third factor affecting just which kinds of jobs and how many jobs should be covered. One other factor that will help in determining the boundaries of your study is the quality of present job descriptions. If job descriptions in certain areas have been kept up-to-date regularly, there is little need for additional extensive data gathering in those areas.
 
Seek Out Support from Management
 
Once the manager, or analyst doing the study, has isolated positions for investigation, he or she must sell the need for the study to loop in management and those managers on down the line who will be affected by the study. Often high-level management people will be involved in development of the rationale for the study and identification of the positions to be studied. When this is the case, management is likely to need little additional convincing that the study must go forward. Equally often, however, management will not sense the need for a study. Therefore, the analyst must persuade management. Not only must the analyst convince management of the desirability of a job analysis, but the analyst must also get top management to come forth and publicly state its belief in the merits of the project. Management should present a strong case for the value of the study to all those affected by the study. Management should communicate to employees that the project has high priority and that the employees will be given the time they need to fully participate. Management should also point out how the organization intends to use the data acquired and how this data will benefit both the company and the employees. When employees know that management is involved, and is supportive of the analysis effort, they will take it seriously. Getting top management's support and making sure that support is communicated to all subjects in the study is critical.
 
Develop Your Methods and Sources
 
Once you have full support for the project from management, it makes sense to invest time and energy in developing the methods and sources you will use to acquire data. It may take considerable time and money to develop questionnaires, arrange for filming or direct observation, or to develop structured interviews, for example.
 
What methods and sources you will use depend on the kind of information you want, the types of jobs being studied, the number of jobs being studied, how much help the analyst has, the time frame within which the study must take place, the discipline level of the employees to be studied, and the like. You will want to use multiple methods to assure data validity. It is essential that you acquire input from those affected by the study as to which methods seem to make the most sense for their particular situations. The management of departments covered by the analysis may have preference for one data-gathering device over another and such preferences should be considered and incorporated if practical.
 
A critical point in selecting data-gathering methods and in designing instruments to gather data is to first define precisely what kind and amount of data you want. Deciding the desired structure and content of your job description will suggest how to go about gathering data for its preparation. What information do you wish to present in the job description? At a minimum, you will want to gather data on what the worker does" when, where, with whom, with what resources, and for what purpose. Though job descriptions do not tell how work is done, a good job analysis may ask questions about the process because knowledge of how often helps clarify what exactly is done. You must also decide from whom--subordinates, peers, super visors--you want to gather data about a job. Multiple sources assure higher validity.
 
Orient the Employees
 
This is a critical step in the job analysis procedure. You engage in orienting the employees only after data-gathering devices and other systems have been fairly well resolved. It is probably best to hold a meeting to inform all participants in the project of what is going to take place and why. The meeting can be used to answer questions about the analysis and to allay fears some incumbents may have. Employees sometimes fear job analysis because they think it will result in putting them in a straight jacket or they think management must believe they are doing something wrong to invest so much in such a study.
 
The key point for orientation is to remember that all participants need to be trained and motivated to perform well as subjects in the study. This means considerable discussion of how to use instruments like logs and questionnaires, as well as considerable discussion of the many valuable ways in which gathered data will be used by the organization. Make sure supervisors involved in the analysis know that the analysis is going to take a substantial amount of their time. They will be called on to provide data on their own jobs plus data for all jobs in their departments.
 
See the following articles for more information: