According to the book, Play to Your Strengths, “human capital is the biggest investment about which management knows the least.” Each year, the typical American company invests 36% of their sales in their human capital.
In the interest of learning more about this investment, let’s explore an often neglected, misused and underutilized tool, the job description.
Job Description Defined
A job description is detailed analysis and definition of a job; all the duties, responsibilities, and conditions required in the performance of a particular job.
OK, but why bother?
If your job descriptions are merely a list of activities, qualifications and generic responsibilities, I’m guessing that your performance reviews are a frustrating exercise for both the managers and their subordinates. Perhaps a waste of time and resources?
Every job should have a purpose: an expectation for achievements that result from that list of tasks included on most job descriptions. How effective are we at communicating them. But all to often, the goals and desired achievements are undefined. We communicate the what and how of a position with little mention of the why. If you want star performances, wouldn’t it make sense to define, in measurable terms, what star performance should look like?
Do your Job/Position Descriptions…
- exist at all?
- exist for reasons other than to satisfy compliance requirements or to justify terminations?
- play a functional role in recruiting and developing potential high achievers?
- strategic plan?provide the basis for meaningful, ongoing performance reviews?describe the role that the job plays in the pursuit of the organization’s strategic plan?provide criteria to answer the question: “What should I do first?”
- list the key measurable achievements that the person is accountable for?
How many items apply to you? The fewer that do, the more more likely you’re squandering that investment that, for most, is 36% of your sales!
In the absence of meaningful job descriptions with mutually understood accountabilities, you are more likely to have a lot of well intentioned, busy people who struggle to make decisions and don’t get much accomplished
Seeking to develop peak performers?
Improving your Job Descriptions and performance review process are a good place to start improving your return on human capital.
Another piece of The Performance Puzzle is to assure that you have the right people in the right jobs. For that, I recommend exploring a process called Job Benchmarking. By combining computer science with behavioral science, you gain unprecedented insight for promotion and hiring decisions. It reduces your risk of a bad hire and predicts areas for improvement where even successful candidates will struggle.
Having used Job Benchmarking, I would never make a key hiring or promotion decision without it.