Build great Teams – People management

Job Descriptions – Getting It Right

Job Descriptions – Getting It Right

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Use job descriptions to develop a clear, mutual agreement between you and your employee about what you expect them to do for a given job. Use them to communicate to candidates and/or recruitment agencies what you’re looking for when you’re hiring.

They are the common ground you can refer to when talking about performance. This is particularly useful if you and your employee disagree about what they should (or shouldn’t) be doing. Use them as the framework for the performance-related goals you set.

Job Descriptions – What Are They?

Job descriptions describe the duties and responsibilities of a job. They include any required qualifications. They list the knowledge, skills and experience that are either required or which would be beneficial for a given job. A job description should also include reporting relationships, the location of work, and any relevant working conditions, tools, or equipment used to do the job.

Job descriptions are not operating manuals. Keep the descriptions of duties concise. For more detailed information on how to do the job, refer to other relevant documents.

Job Descriptions – How To Write Them?

First analyse the job to gather as much data as possible. Look at the job responsibilities of any current people doing this job. Write down (they can help you) everything they currently do – however big or small. For each, ask yourself if this is what you want them to be doing. Do you have an ‘expensive’ worker doing administrative tasks? Is what they’re doing a better fit for someone in a different role? Are there tasks that they’re currently not doing that you think they should be doing?

Do some internet research and review sample job descriptions for similar jobs. Look for ideas for things you might need your staff to do that you haven’t thought about, or that they do already but you haven’t written down.

Summarize the most important outcomes or contributions needed from the position.

What To Do Next

Have a conversation with your team about anything you want someone to stop doing or to pass to someone else, and let them know why.

Set out your list in order of importance. Double check that everything on the list is genuinely valuable to the business. And make sure it’s achievable by the one person or group of people that will have this job description.

Use your list to create a great job description, and write it with enough flexibility so individuals can ‘work outside of the box’. Encourage your employees to learn from those who have different responsibilities (cross-training). Also encourage your team to be willing to help each other accomplish a task. Don’t put your team into a position where they think (or say), “That’s not my job”.

Don’t include targets for any item in your job description. Targets are handled separately as part of your performance management process. A job description may stay the same for several years, but the goals assigned to a person with that job description may change each year. The job description lists the activities that will lead to a person achieving the targets set in their goals.

My Question To You

Do you have job descriptions for your employees? Are they fit for purpose? When were they last updated? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


About the Author:

Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

You are not alone and we can help.

We offer a Team Success program that will help you build a successful team that will support you, freeing you up to spend your time and energy growing your business.

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