“Our people are our greatest asset.” Most business leaders would agree with this statement. If your people aren’t performing well, your company won’t perform well. And if your competitors’ people are performing better than yours, you will struggle to compete, or even survive. Most leaders grumble about the performance of at least one of their employees. Yet, when an employee is told their performance is unsatisfactory, most of them genuinely had no idea that there was a problem. How can we fix this disconnect and lay the foundations for great performance? You might be surprised to hear that the answer is …
… Job Descriptions.
Every employee has the right to know what is expected of them. If you don’t tell them what you expect from them, you can’t complain when they don’t deliver what you want. So, the purpose of the Job Description is to let the employee know what is expected of them.
Some companies have exhaustive Job Descriptions documenting every task and activity in minute detail. For some companies and roles this is appropriate, but in most cases, it is an overkill. Such Job Descriptions are a lot of effort to write and even more effort to keep up to date. Most Job Descriptions should fit on a single side of A4 paper. The core elements of the Job Description are:
- Job Title – fairly obvious but we need to make sure that we are looking at the right piece of paper.
- Job Purpose – one sentence defining how the role contributes to the success of the company.
- Key Responsibilities – typically a list of around 6 – 8 areas of the business that you will delegate to them and hold them accountable for. This could be as large as “Full Profit and Loss responsibility for the Company” or a small as “Ensuring visitors are offered a cup of tea or coffee”. Either way, you are delegating responsibilities not just listing activities.
- Measures of success – how will you (and they) judge whether they are achieving the level of performance required in fulfilling their responsibilities? Ideally there will be a Measure of Success (e.g. Key Performance Indicator or SMART Goal) for each Key Responsibility but that is not always possible. However, do make sure that the if the employee does achieve all the Measures of Success, they will have fully met your expectations in the role.
By taking the time to write a short but powerful Job Description for each role in your business, your employees will:
- Clearly understand their role;
- Focus on the key responsibilities you have delegated to them;
- Be far more likely to deliver the performance you require.