For comparing actual worker engagements with intended.
The job description is a standard of what tasks should be engaged in by the employee. It shows planned, intended task behaviors. Management must compare (at least at the end of the review period) what actually goes on with this standard (set at the beginning of the review period). If a discrepancy exists, the hard question must be asked: "Is what is going on what really should be occurring, or is that which actually is occurring irrelevant and off track?" Sometimes such questioning will reveal that times have, in fact, changed and the JD has not been kept up-to-date to reflect the change. In this case it should be altered to catch up. But more often than not, discrepancies between what is intended and what will actually happen can reveal a problem. Perhaps certain activities being engaged in have no real payoff for the organization and other essential activities have been forgotten or are being unnecessarily neglected. Employees sometimes gravitate toward pursuit of trivia in the absence of direction to the contrary because such means success without high investment of time and energy.
For self-assessment of performance.
Employees need to assume responsibility themselves in performance control. They need to monitor their own performance and self-correct whenever and wherever such actions are feasible. The job description tells employees what they need to attend to and in what they must be proficient. It tells employees how their time ought to be distributed and what the relative importance of different task areas is. It is a useful document for the employee to have ready access to and is a document employees should, in fact, pull out of the file periodically to review and study for purposes of comparing actual job behaviors with intended. Sometimes employees lose sight of their total jobs--of the mix of duties they are expected to accomplish. Job descriptions help keep workers in tune.
For providing documentation of task expectations.
Managers need to communicate tasks orally to employees but the written record is extremely important too. The written document serves employees as a ready base of reference. They can check it at will to find out formal job expectations. It serves as proof of an assignment and provides an element of stability in what is expected of workers. Task requirements for subordinates are not so likely to change with the wind or be subject to the whims and fancies of every different manager that comes along. Once the acceptable job design is found, its description in writing adds legitimacy, relevancy, and an element of permanence. The job description thus becomes a quality source document for any interested and authorized party to use in researching the nature of the job.
For helping determine the proper investment in contingent rewards.
Most companies will want to issue a portion of the employee's rewards on the basis of the quality of the employee's performance. But you have to be careful here. Is top performance on some parts of the job equal to top performance on other parts of the job? Should an employee who performs excellent on task A and medium on task B receive the same bonus as one who performs excellent on B and medium on A? The answer is no if these tasks are weighted differently in the job description. Larger contingent rewards should go to those who do well on the more important tasks. High performance on less important tasks is to be commended but any contingent rewards for this performance must be downsized to reflect the worth of the task to the organization. This principle should apply even to low-cost rewards like praise, too. The most recognition should go to those who do well in high-priority areas.
For facilitating accountability.
The job description facilitates quality control by pinpointing what workers are accountable for. It not only tells the manager what to check on in each employee's area of responsibility, it also tells the worker what to report on--what to keep the boss informed about. Accountability is, in part, a reporting obligation. When managers delegate tasks, an accountability relation is automatically established. The job description, with its provision of information on task requirements and task priorities, suggests to the employee what things about the job should be communicated to the supervisor as well as the desired relative frequencies of such communication. The job description helps assure a full measure of accountability--the responsibility for tasks is precisely pinpointed and no key work areas are neglected in the reporting process.
For understanding the magnitude of boss-subordinate communication needs.
By studying a job description one can learn about task complexities, task uncertainties, required interactions with others, and so on. Routine, simple jobs require relatively few communications between boss and subordinate. Relatively little attention, therefore, need be given to building elaborate means of information exchange between boss and subordinate. On the other hand, when work is complex and non-routine and the probability of difficulties and problems arising is high, extensive attention may have to be given to building strong boss-subordinate communications. Opportunities for frequent interaction may have to exist and is a means of assuring that the accuracy of informational transfer may have to be established.
For helping managers position themselves for performance observations.
Managers need to check on subordinate performance. This means reading reports, listening to verbal communications, doing annual performance evaluations, and such. It also means that physical observation may be warranted. Managers can do much better at evaluating their people if, from time to time, they make direct observations. Some intrusiveness into subordinates’ work domains for this purpose is essential to obtain true validity in evaluation and to be able to offer truly worthwhile help to subordinates. The job description can suggest opportunities for the manager to observe. A quality job description shows where different phases of work take place, other people with whom the worker interacts, and the relative amounts of time workers spend on tasks. It can give the supervisor insight into how to go about observing so that key activities can be scrutinized with minimal disruption or generation of ill-will.
For guiding personnel system audits.
All organizations periodically need to audit how well they are managing the human resource. How well are they designing work, delivering rewards, staffing, training, and correcting for performance deficiency? Job descriptions can be reviewed for possible changes in job design to better meet reward system, staffing, training, and control requirements or limitations. If performance is constantly low on certain jobs, this suggests there may be problems with the personnel system. It may be found, for example, that performance is low on a particular type of job because of poor staffing that results from faulty person specs-person specs incorrectly inferred from the job description.
See the following articles for more information: