Writing Job Descriptions

Defining The Job With Clear Expectations

Writing Job Descriptions - an upfront investment of time and effort that will pay off in a leader’s ability to successfully manage the performance of every team member.

For a company in growth-mode, it can be a challenge to take time to write comprehensive job descriptions, but it is a worth-while business management practice that supports both the leadership and team members.

Writing job descriptions that define and clearly set an expectation for each position is central to the business development and success of any organization.

A comprehensive job description serves to:

  • Document the important facts about the position
  • Set clear expectations up front
  • Describe and prioritize the tasks, methods to complete tasks and responsibilities key to the success of the position
  • Coordinate roles and eliminate duplication of effort
  • Define working relationships with other positions and context to the organization
  • Outline how performance is measured
  • Determine job training
  • Avoid an unwilling response of, “it is not in my job description”
  • Support job evaluation and compensation

It’s important that all written job descriptions create a vision that is current as well as dynamic and functional. Realistically speaking, many jobs evolve due either to personal growth, organizational growth, and/or the introduction of new technologies. Open-ended job descriptions will encourage employees to grow within their position and support increased contributions.

Can you tell the difference between a closed-ended and open-ended approach writing job descriptions for an office manager?

The first approach, “routinely order office supplies for the company and keep the storage closet well stocked.”

Or the second job description approach, “develop and implement a system of ordering office supplies that promotes cost savings and efficiency within the company.”

The first, closed-ended approach may lead an employee to working in a rut, whereas the second, open-ended approach supports personal growth and increased contributions.

Following are the key points to include when writing job descriptions:

  1. Job Title
  2. Job Location
  3. Job Classification, Exempt or Non-Exempt, Full-Time, Part-Time or Flexible
  4. Summary of Essential Functions
  5. Prioritized list of Responsibilities, Duties and Tasks
  6. Description of Working Relationships and Roles
  7. Job Qualifications such as Education, Experience, Knowledge and Skills
  8. Other Non-Essential Duties as Assigned

A few helpful-hints for writing job descriptions include:

  • Action words should always be in the present tense
  • Keep each point clear and concise
  • Use gender-neutral terminology
  • Use language that leaves no room for interpretation
  • Be as specific as possible when describing frequency

The benefit of having written job description with well-defined roles and clear expectations in a dynamic job is universal. A important part of effective business planning is investing the time it takes up front for writing job descriptions, which will support success across all levels of an organization, from entry-level employees to top leadership.

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