For identifying employees who could profit from sharing information with and helping one another.
A worker may be having a problem with some aspect of work, or they may be looking for opportunities to upgrade performance. Or, they may have information of use to someone else in the organization. By identifying other workers with similar experiences or training--through analysis of job descriptions--an employee can find out from whom to search out help or with whom to share information. Clustering similar job descriptions identifies groups of employees who can profit from one another by helping and sharing resources.
For determining health and safety training needs.
It serves as a valuable guide to areas in which the worker should be prepared to observe positive and beneficial health and safety practices—for themselves and others in the workplace. The job description indicates just how much attention the worker should give to physical and emotional protection measures. It can meaningfully express to the worker the value of learning how to avoid hazards and improve health and safety standards.
For guiding the interventions of boundary spanners.
Boundary spanners are employees who vault their own organizational spaces and break into the domains of other workers. They force others to deviate from planned routines. They take problems to others; they request actions of others. For boundary spanners to avoid rejection and to gain others' receptivity to their interventions, they must know about the demands on others and use proper tact and timing when making contacts. By studying the job descriptions of those with whom they must interact, spanners can come to understand better how their interactions with others can be made successful.
For guiding self-training or development.
Employees themselves can use job descriptions that identify tasks, task times, and task priorities as a guide for self-development activity. The task priorities, in particular, tell workers what they must focus on to assure quality performance on the job.
For helping management trainees prepare for training exercises.
Training exercises are sometimes set up to model actual organizational operations. During such exercises, management trainees will have tasks to do or decisions to make that are as close as possible to reality. Allowing these trainees study the actual job descriptions of the various positions encompassed by a simulation, prior to involvement in that simulation can heighten their learning efficiency and make the entire training effort more worthwhile.
For establishing outside training and educational programs.
Secondary and postsecondary, public and private education and training programs can be designed to provide more relevant ability and skill development if they are structured with knowledge of real jobs in mind. Using job descriptions from actual organizations can help institutions assemble more pertinent curricula and hire better qualified instructors. Not bridging the gap between the world of work and academia by this method is not uncommonly at the root of claims that our educational institutions are too removed from pragmatism.
Effective management of the human resource requires that the organization control the performance of that resource. Control involves monitoring performance, comparing what is observed with a standard, and taking corrective action if the actual results do not conform to the standard. The job description serves management in all phases of this control effort. It guides both manager and subordinate in how to develop measures of performance and ways to diagnose sources of deficient performance. There are a great variety of specific uses for the job description in the area of employee-job performance control.
For setting performance criteria and assuring valid performance appraisal.
Performance criteria are measures of performance--ways to determine the level of employee performance. Typically there are numerous ways performance along any given task dimension can be measured. In general, when measuring how well one performs a task, you will want to look at the quantity of production, the quality, the timeliness, and the cost of completing the task. To set these criteria, the job description must be consulted to assure that criteria are relevant--that they do indeed relate to task dimensions planned for the worker. Performance criteria must be established for each task dimension or activity category in the job description if a valid overall assessment of employee performance is to be made. The job description promotes objective, unbiased, and comprehensive evaluation of performance. It thereby functions as a much-needed quality assurance device.
For establishing strategic point controls.
The process of control can be very expensive. Organizations usually cannot afford to monitor all operations at all times. They must determine specific areas for focusing control efforts. When it comes to controlling employee-job performance, management must often filter out the priority task dimensions and concentrate on controlling performance along these dimensions. The job description tells which task areas are most important and which consume the largest amount of the employee's time. These are the tasks, the execution of which is critical. It is problems with the execution of these tasks that must receive primary attention.
For establishing weights for performance criteria to assess one's aggregate performance, performance criteria must be weighted to show along which dimensions performance is highly important and along which dimensions performance is of lesser importance.
Once criteria are weighted, the employee's performance scores along various criteria can be multiplied by the respective weights of the criteria and then all results summed to yield a composite performance score. The job description can be most useful in establishing valid performance criteria weights because the job description shows task dimension weights. Criteria associated with highly important tasks should receive relatively high weights. Criteria associated with tasks of lesser importance should be weighted with correspondingly smaller numbers. This approach helps assure that performance evaluation is truly job relevant--that it not only involves assessment of the correct kinds of work but that it also recognizes the relative importance of different kinds of work.
For guiding supervisor and subordinate during performance reviews, counseling sessions, and coaching.
Most organizations have their managers sit periodically with subordinates to discuss the latter's performance over the past year or six months. During these review sessions, as well as during more frequent and usually less comprehensive counseling and coaching sessions, managers can identify areas of strength and weakness in a subordinate’s performance and develop courses of action to resolve any problems. The job description can be invaluable in helping managers and subordinates both prepare for the review or counseling or coaching session, and ultimately in helping organize discussion during the session.
See the following articles for more information: