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6 Ways to Keep Job Description Discussions on Track

A quality job description should give insight into the kinds of resources the worker receives and the sources of those resources.

Job discussions can sometimes lost sight of managerial concerns. Make sure yours doesn’t and focus on these 6 methods.

The job description helps keep discussions on track, thus helping assure relevancy of discussion. It also helps alert the manager to the overall demands of the worker, thereby contributing to a more rational discussion of performance strengths and weaknesses.
For preventing random and self-serving behaviors.
The job description prescribes a pattern for employee activity that, in the thoughtful judgment of those who designed the job, is in the best interest of the organization. Without the job description, employees will have considerable opportunity to use organizational resources in pursuit of their own interests or in the pursuit of goals that are not entirely in line with what the organization desires. Without adequate definition, one's activity can often become trial and error and may degenerate to an inefficient randomness.
The job description gives needed structure. It gives clear definition of work. The job description tells what ought to be accomplished in any given role. It helps prevent non-relevant behaviors from creeping in to excess and can prevent a significant portion of the investment in the human resource from being wasted. The job description can be viewed as providing constraint on informal behavior and curbing behavior not deemed in the best interest of the organization.
When job descriptions do not exist or are too loose, employees have an opportunity to grab large amounts of informal power. They become highly independent. They can reject new assignments, persuade supervisors of the need for job change, or get their budgets increased. Supervisors have little choice but to go along since there is a lack of sense of real need in the absence of job descriptions.
For helping top management control work.
Top management should not rely only on its immediate subordinates for management of all things further down the line. Top managers need, at least on occasion, to observe and to correspond directly with key people at other levels in the organization. Real control comes from having some redundancy built into the communication channels that keep top management adequately informed.
An extremely useful periodic exercise for top management is to study a broad spectrum of job descriptions throughout the organization. By doing so, top management can see how its human resources allocations are spent and whether they need to be reevaluated. Nobody is in a better position to assess the relative work needs and priorities in various parts of a large organization than its top management. A study of job descriptions offers top management direct control over what is happening in the organization. Without such investigations, an organization can easily run astray. Without job descriptions, work systems can spiral out of. Top managers need to have a broad perspective to judge which jobs are really worthwhile to invest in, which are not, and what different or additional types of jobs should perhaps be created to better advance the organization. They need to be actively involved in influencing job designs by reviewing job descriptions themselves. Such involvement by top management helps keep control of the workforce.
For diagnosing sources of performance deficiency.
It was mentioned above that the job description is useful during the performance review. Usually, managers and subordinates will commence a diagnostic process during the review to pinpoint causes of any low subordinate performance. The job description might show that a work overload was a contributor to the worker's low performance. It may indicate ambiguity of assignment that could easily cause sub-par performance. It may show a connection to other workers who may have caused a performance break down. The job description may suggest scores of factors that might be at the root of a performance problem or be contributing to a performance problem.
For suggesting questions for morale surveys.
Morale surveys are often conducted by organizations for the purpose of objectively determining the level of employee satisfaction with employment and of identifying sources of low satisfaction. Satisfaction impacts performance. For example, low satisfaction can mean high absenteeism, rumor generations, on-the-job drug problems, labor strikes, and more. These aspects of negative job satisfaction rates can dramatically reduce organizational performance. The job description can help in formulating pertinent questions about aspects of employment that may positively or negatively affect satisfaction. It indicates what kinds of questions to ask about the nature of the employee's work--questions that will indicate the degree of employee satisfaction with the workplace and job. For example, the job description analyst may find upon reviewing a number of job descriptions that excessive task variety is apparently commonplace in the organization. This suggests that the morale survey should necessarily incorporate questions on this matter.
For developing the appropriate type and frequency of feedback to workers.
Employees need to know how well they are doing their jobs so they can improve if need be, and so they can experience the joys of knowing they are on track when such is the case. The job description can help management decide how often to give feedback on performance of different tasks. For example, a highly important task performed a large percentage of the time indicates a need for extensive feedback. A task that is not performed often and/or that is not too important requires less feedback.
The job description can also help management decide the best kinds of feedback. Complicated tasks may require elaborate written feedback statements. Simple tasks will probably require only simple oral feedback. Tasks that involve interaction with others may suggest the desirability of some form of group discussion that generates feedback for the worker from others associated with the task.
For developing job input controls.
Employees do their jobs with inputs, or resources, received from other employees or from sources outside the organization.
Informational, material, and monetary-type inputs are common. Employees cannot be successful-no matter how high the quality of their task design-if something is wrong with the inputs received. The job description should give enough information about resources so that important ones can be identified and some kind of monitoring of the adequacy of the timing, quality, and quantity of those inputs can be established. Often performance breaks down because of flaws in inputs. Therefore, controls on inputs must be thoroughly planned.
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