Overview – Job Description
A job description captures the essence of a role: what an employee does and how that contributes to the organisation. This is articulated through the job purpose and core accountabilities, the two cornerstones of a job description. Job descriptions are a core tool for managing performance. The accountabilities provide a foundation for establishing the annual objectives and behaviours that measure and define how the job’s purpose is delivered in practice.
Job descriptions can also be a valuable communication tactic. When writing a job description, a leader can help an employee understand the connection between their job responsibilities and the organisation’s purpose, mission and values by providing the ‘big picture’ context to that role. Job descriptions can also help foster collaboration across the organisation by identifying interdependencies and mapping out the execution of strategy through the organisational structure.
This tactic is useful for:
✓ Embedding a collective vision for the organisation.
✓ Communicating the big-picture by defining the value of an employee’s job in the context of the organisation’s purpose, mission and values.
✓ Forging clarity of purpose, both at an organisational and employee level.
✓ Promoting a sense of commitment, community and common purpose.
Things to consider:
⇒ Co-ordinate this communication tactic with the organisation’s established HR practices and processes.
⇒ Start every individual job description with a universal statement to provide a consistent organisational context. That universal statement may include:
– Purpose statement (why we do what we do).
– Mission statement (where we’re going and how we’re going to get there).
– Values system (what we believe in and why).
⇒ Show the linkage between each of the above and the job being described. For example:
– ‘Our purpose is to create innovative products to save leaders time, effort and money. The purpose of this job is to conduct research to ascertain leaders’ product needs.’
– ‘Our mission is to be No.1 for customer service in our sector. This job will help us deliver on that mission by developing and managing a process to respond to all customer inquiries and complaints within 24 hours.’
In addition to articulating the job description within its organisational context, describe the linkage of the job’s purpose to the department and division within which it functions. In large and complex organisations it can be helpful to map out those linkages. Such a hierarchical construct would show the interconnected purposes of: