SO - do you have up-to-date, clear Position Descriptions (PD) for every
role? Really? Honestly? If you don’t – how can you be sure that your people
are working on the things your business needs them to be working
on? With your people likely being your highest variable cost – can you
really afford to be duplicating tasks, or leaving gaping holes?
Do Position Descriptions really matter
· Role clarity: Employees want to know the purpose
of their role, their main accountabilities and the boundaries within which
they operate. People without role clarity are often less engaged and
may be more likely to search for a new role. A lack of clear
accountabilities can lead to duplication of work, tasks falling between the
cracks because nobody knows who is accountable for what, or work being done
at too high a level in the organisation, with strategic work not getting
done at all.
· Link to the whole
HR process- such as
recruitment and selection, performance management, and development
planning. Without a clearly defined role the other processes break down and
are less likely to be of value.
· Risk Management: How could you expect to manage an
underperforming employee without a clear and up-to-date position
description? In fact, it begs the question, is the employee
performing poorly because there is no position description in the first
OK, I get it. How do I ‘do’ Position Descriptions
You need a system! Not an IT system necessarily, but a process.
A good system looks something like this:
single user-friendly PD template used across the company.
· A set of
model PDs for common
roles across the organisation – this helps drive consistency and reduces
the work in writing PDs, as a model PD then just needs to be tailored for
each position, rather than a manager having to start with a blank template.
· A central
place for PDs where they
are stored and are easily accessible for each employee.
· Managers review
each employee’s PD regularly – build in a review of the PD to coincide with the
setting of performance objectives for the year. This timing is perfect as
an up-to-date PD should be a key document referred to when developing
performance objectives for the year.
· PDs are audited – conduct an annual audit to
identify the coverage and quality of position descriptions across the
· Education of
managers – ensure that
managers know that a position description provides a high level overview of
a role – it should not be a lengthy document. Don’t try and list every
possible task that an employee might need to perform – it is not your
procedure manual. (I can
help you with one of those separately, if you’re interested)
I know this
isn’t the most exciting part of your business – but it may be one of the
most valuable. With this simple, straightforward process, you can create
far greater efficiency with your people, and get more done with less.