To guide development of other work-related plans:
The goals or objectives one works toward should be relevant and that means tied to a properly prepared job description. Worker objectives should be formulated for each responsibility in the job description. Objectives will not be valid if derived apart from one's prescribed set of responsibilities.
Work schedules--when to do what, how often to take breaks, and so on--can also be improved by more carefully examining the job description. For example, if a job requires (as determined from the description) long-term, strenuous execution of a task, a considerable number of properly spaced work breaks should be built into the job. Or, if certain high-priority tasks (high priority as noted by the importance indexes attached to them) are performed daily, these tasks should be planned for execution early in the day--to make sure they do, in fact, get done and to assure they get done while the worker is sharp. Further, one may determine that the nature of the work as depicted by the job description may lend itself to alternative work schedules such as flextime or 4/40 work weeks.
To study the efficiency of job design:
An employee may execute their job or a task very well, but still fall short on performance because the job is not designed efficiently. In other words, it may not be designed to permit high performance even though the worker has the skills and motivation needed to succeed. By analyzing such elements as the variety of tasks, the time allocated to various tasks, the frequency of task performance, and where various tasks must be performed, someone who is analyzing the job description can gain insight into how efficiently the work is set up. Too great a task variety can mean that employees jump from task to task, spending most of their time on task start-up and shutdown. Tasks that must be performed in a number of different locations physically separated by great distance likewise cause performance problems.
Too much time (and money) is spent in unproductive travel. Potential production bottlenecks, delays, and sources of error in production can all be isolated by scrutinizing task time allocations, task frequencies, and other information depicted in the job description.
For vertical and horizontal job clustering:
Job descriptions can be used to develop families of jobs, which may consist of jobs that range from the simple to the complex in a logical progression in a particular field. Job families of this type constitute a path for the employee to pursue in career advancement. Such a vertical job cluster specifies a career design rather than a single job design. It suggests a series of jobs for the employee to progress through. Each successive job demands a higher level of skill, knowledge, and commitment than the previous.
Horizontal clusters can also be developed. Such clusters specify lateral transfer opportunities for employees--a number of different jobs, at essentially the same administrative level in the organization, through which the employee can move with relative ease and a minimal amount of cross training. Horizontal clusters are often important to help indicate where to move a worker if the company wishes to make room for a new up-and-coming star.
To analyze job specificity versus ambiguity:
Some jobs can best--perhaps only--be described with very general task statements. Precisely what one does on the job is uncertain or so different from one execution to the next that it does not make sense to pinpoint all the details of what may go on in the job.
Other jobs encompass very specific, stable, definable kinds of tasks and routines that are amenable to precise, written disclosure. With high job specificity, or definitiveness of content, efficiency of execution can usually be maximized, employee performance can be accurately measured, and, because employee behavior expectations are clear, a higher level of employee motivation can often be derived. With ambiguous jobs there is, among other things, opportunity for the employee to engage in behavior not completely compatible with organizational aims. But this behavior tends to be more of an expression of personality and is, therefore, self-satisfying. Understanding degrees of specificity and ambiguity aids decision making in many areas such as what style of leadership to use with the employee and what kind of performance controls to use.
To determine the kind of authority to attach to a job:
Authority must be commensurate with responsibility. That is, one needs rights to command others, make decisions, and commit organizational resources that are sufficient to get the job done efficiently. By analyzing the tasks one is responsible for, management can gain insight into what line, functional, and staff authorities the incumbent ought to be able to exercise. Authority is a dimension of job design and the authority attached to a position should be indicated in the job description; but decisions on the authority of the position can usually be better made by careful analysis of the responsibilities of the position first.
To assess the randomness of demands on the worker knowing the unpredictability of requirements, can help in understanding and troubleshooting sources of such things as employee stress, bottlenecks in production, and causes of employee idle time. Analyzing this randomness, can help determine whether or not employees may need help from time to time and whether or not they will be available to help others on occasions.
See the following articles for more information: