By: Michelle Berg

I recently spoke to a group of entrepreneurs and asked them a simple question. “What’s your go-to HR tool you use to ensure your culture is exactly what you’ve imagined it to be?”

Honestly – I got crickets.  But as some started to open up, they said…

 

  • Beer Friday’s?
  • Ping Pong Table?
  • Video games?
  • Quarterly town halls?
  • Easy going recruitment process?
  • Good time tracking system?

But the overwhelming response was…

  • I have no idea. I kind of just wing it.

The good news? There is actually a tool that does work and will make the people and culture side of the business suck way less if you actually do it right. It’s called…

THE JOB DESCRIPTION

I know, I know. Since I’ve been in HR, every leader and CEO I have ever worked with has neglected their job descriptions. They allow them to collect dust, become outdated and assume that because they have, “Other duties as assigned”, it covers their ass. But it’s time employers realize the value of the job description is a foundation for every people decision they make.  After all, it supports:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Compensation
  • Performance Management
  • Training and Development
  • Terminations

Why? Because when done right, the job description is a clear picture of what needs to happen to have success in the role and throws all the ambiguity and subjectivity out the window.

Want your job descriptions to suck less? Try the following:

  • Stop googling a job description with the same title and figuring if it works for company Y it should work for you. Do the work and determine what you want them to do and write that down. Even if it seems too simplistic.
  • Stop seeing a job description as interchangeable with a job ad. A job ad is a marketing tool; it’s meant to attract the right candidate. A job description allows you to know whether or not you have the right person for the job sitting in front of you.
  • Stop asking HR to create them first.  The best job descriptions are either drafted by the manager of the person or the person doing the job (in a collaborative fashion). If you see a disconnect when your employee fills it out, chances are this is the best time to clear up your expectations. HR does HR. They don’t know what the day to day responsibilities of a full stack developer any better than google.
  • Identify how much time they should be spending on each responsibility. If someone is in the role today, start by asking them to start tracking their time for a real picture of what they do. If it seems like it’s off, this serves as a great conversation to have with your team member to get them back on track.
  • List evidence for the qualifications you’ve asked for. Example: Most employers say, “Demonstrate advanced communication skills.” Make it better by adding how or “evidenced by”. How will you be able to determine whether the person has it or not? If you don’t know, don’t ask for it.
  • Identify what success looks like. Make it easy for people to fully know if they are doing what you are paying them for; this is beyond a responsibility.
  • Stop worrying about word smithing. This is not a fancy dancy marketing product. Instead check for understanding and ensure you and the employee are on the same page. Can they too articulate what success looks like?
  • Stop only looking at the job description when you need to hire. Use it weekly to support performance management / training and development conversations. Update as required.
  • Use it to identify whether or not someone is right for your role. If your qualifications are black and white, behaviours and values are listed and objectively described, you won’t need to use your gut anymore!

The truth is – as entrepreneurs we make decisions all day long. Some are the right decisions. Many are not. What I know is that the gut is often full of shit and raw emotion and the goal should always be to increase the efficacy of those decisions. If there was a tool that helped you to scale quickly without having to rely solely on intuition, wouldn’t it make everything better?

Job descriptions should not be the bain of your existence, rather, the foundation for growth!

Want help on your job description process? We’ve got a template and a program that can help. That said, we won’t write them for you.


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