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31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader


Day #24: No Job DescriptionsJob Description

A job description is a form invented by HR departments to validate their job. It has taken form as a list of tasks, which is a form of micromanaging.– Hugh Ballou

I love to borrow the quote from a colleague of mine that the Job Description is an invention of the HR department, which is the department of Human Remains. That’s not very flattering. HR professionals are important watchdogs for compliance in organizations. In fact, organizations without this department are in jeopardy of breaking the law. So, it’s really not a joke. It’s just bad practice.

Having no document is worse than having a bad document, however, not much worse. Having a checklist of tasks is the document I have mostly seen. It’s not a document that inspires high-performing team members to do their best.

A new best practice for my teaching is developing a “Position Description” for a specific job or position within an organization. The elements of this document are also the checklist for hiring employees, consultants, or board members. It’s a description of an area of performance with specific exceptions clearly defined.

Here are the elements for a Position Description:

  • Title of the Position
  • Describe the Position in a Few Words
  • Competencies Needed
  • Role and Responsibility
  • Culture Fit – Alignment with values and principles
  • Performance Expectations – updated monthly or quarterly

What’s important here is that a person has a performance track. You, as leader, guide them on that track. The role and responsibility might be “to create and implement…” or “to manage…” It’s a very specific track for their work, but not defining every single thing they are expected to do in that job. If the right person has been engaged for the right match in performance, then let that person define how he or she will accomplish said deliverables over time.Point people to end results, and not to activity.

Next: Day #25 – Evaluations

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