Management in most organizations will constantly receive requests from various employees to participate in short training programs conducted by outside agencies (or consultants). Decisions have to be made as to the likely benefits of participation in these programs versus the costs. By first assessing the skills to be gained by these programs and then studying the job description to see the priority and time consumption of tasks requiring these skills, management can thus make more informed judgments about the net value of the proposed training.
For orienting new employees.
Every new employee needs a period of time to adapt to the organization--no matter how extensive their previous experience and training may have been from their last position. To speed this adaptation period, new employees can be given well-crafted job descriptions for their positions. These will give the employee quick and valid information about what the job requires. One can use the job description as a ready reference until the pace and load of their work is fully learned. The new employees can use the job description to study the job and to help in framing questions about the work to pose to the manager. Job descriptions used in orientation help assure that information on all parts of the job is conveyed to the employees and that key tasks are not neglected.
For team building.
Often employees in organizations gravitate toward greater and greater states of isolation and independence with the passage of time. Employees have a natural tendency to build personalized work domains as they gain more experience with time.
However, coordination and cooperation may suffer as a result. But, employees should develop sharing and helping behaviors. A person in one position can often provide useful information, a helping hand during physical labor, or similar kinds of help to a colleague in another position. Cooperation, coordination, sharing, and helping are behaviors greatly enhanced when workers know about the roles of fellow workers as well as their own. The job descriptions of fellow workers can be given to employees so that they can better understand and appreciate demands on their fellow workers. This greater sensitivity to what others are working on shows employees how they can help, thus spurring trust and respect for the other person. This leads to a higher level of integrated and supportive effort, especially higher levels of teamwork.
Asking employees to analyze their own jobs, and to formulate a detailed profile of what they themselves think should go on in those jobs, offers employees insights and appreciations that cannot be obtained in other ways. At no other time will employees think through the nature and rationale for their work than during self-preparation of the job description. In preparing a job description, one will begin to see a host of possible changes that may contribute to greater efficiency, better quality, and a higher level of production. Employees are likely to pose thoughtful questions to their supervisors about what they do and why.
It is a valuable developmental effort for managers to prepare subordinate job descriptions too. As the manager works through the job description, he or she will, like the employee, exercise a thoroughness of thought about the job not likely to occur at any other time. The manager will likely see numerous opportunities for job improvement during the process of putting the job description together.
Managers and subordinates may each prepare, independently, separate drafts of the subordinate's job description. Then, when they sit down to discuss and resolve differences in perceptions about the job, a superior final design should emerge. Participative job description preparation allows managers and subordinates to find middle ground on job expectations.
For identifying training needs relative to tools and equipment.
A quality job description should identify the tools, equipment, and facilities with which the employee works. It should provide the analyst with a broad overview of the entire set of tools, equipment, and facilities that the employee needs to be trained to use and master.
Sometimes job descriptions will explicitly identify tools, equipment, and facilities in separate statements not tied in with task statements. When this is done, it is easy to identify the tool, equipment, and facility training needs. At other times, however, these kinds of resources may be stated within task statements or simply implied by task statements. In any event, the job description serves as the path to identification.
For preparing a trainer.
When an organization hires a trainer to design and execute a training program for a certain group of employees, it must fully acquaint the trainer with the roles played by the trainees, the performance weaknesses of trainees, and possible problems with the job designs that these trainees face. Letting the trainer study the job descriptions of those who will be trained is a quick and easy way for the trainer to gain insight into the jobs of the trainees. It provides the trainer with a framework for preparing the content of the training program and allows the trainer to conduct truly relevant work-related discussions during training. No training for workers may make more sense than training conducted by one who knows little or nothing about the actual work demands on the trainees.
For orienting and preparing outside consultants.
The job description is a valuable tool for the outside consultant hired by an organization to improve organizational functioning by improving the structures and processes that channel employee behavior. The consultant addressing interpersonal processes and team development must be aware of how job designs define the nature and quality of interactions among employees. Consultants must understand the jobs of those employees they are trying to help almost as well as the employees themselves. Thorough study of the job descriptions followed by probing interviews and observations of job behavior is the best way to gain the required insight quickly.
For quickly preparing substitute workers or temporary help.
When workers suddenly quit their jobs or are stricken with illness, replacements have to be found immediately. Many firms do not have the luxury of having ready-trained others to step in. Someone new has to be relied on. To provide a minimal acceptable level of preparation for the substitute, the job description should be consulted. The job description should tell, by indicating task priorities for example, what must be attended to by the substitute employee. It will not tell how to do the job but it will tell what the sub needs to attend to, or get help doing, and what, in the absence of sufficient time to fulfill all task obligations, may be left for attention later. The job description is an efficient mechanism for rapidly communicating a great deal about the job.
See the following articles for more information: