Do Your Job Descriptions Inspire Greatness?
By Kevin Dwyer
Saturday, 19th April 2014
I received an email from the MD recently, which included the following: 'You have been doing such a brilliant job in your role for the last six months to a year. You have been insightful, capable of honest reflection for all of us, super hard working and diligent'. It was completely unexpected feedback, and it made me smile. Then think. And then, it made me write.
It may sound soppy, but I love work. I enjoy coming into the office and being surrounded by a wonderful group of people. I revel in the adult conversation and the opportunity to exercise another part of my brain, the one that is forced into hibernation when I am in ‘Mummy mode' on my non-work days.
But those reasons are not the driving force behind the feedback I received. Upon reflection, I believe I owe it to a 2-page Microsoft Word document titled: ‘Content Marketing Specialist – Position Description'. Or Job Description, if you prefer.
Reading through my job description, I had an ‘aha!' moment. This document has had a profound impact on me, and here's how:
Now I know what I'm doing, (or supposed to be doing)
A job description sets boundaries. I know how I should be spending my time, and what my priorities are.
Amongst its contents are the headings of ‘Accountabilities' and ‘Responsibilities' – which are worth mentioning, because the two terms are not interchangeable (contrary to popular belief). My job description tells me what I am Accountable for – the areas I am ultimately answerable for, in terms of the company's performance – and what my Responsibilities are – the activities or tasks that I am to carry out. I know when I am ‘doing my job', versus when I am helping someone out with theirs.
Now I know where I need to go

Having a clear and easy to understand job description provides clarity, and an understanding of what is expected of the employee. A compass as well as a destination, metaphorically speaking.
I have been able to determine what I need in terms of tools, resources and equipment, in order to perform my role. I have also been able to use my job description to drive my performance plan, enrolling in training courses to bridge my self-identified skills gaps.
I have enjoyed exploring a new role, and have been excited about where I can take it.
Now I know my role does in the context of the rest of the organisation
An organisation chart doesn't tell someone why their role exists, or what part its cog plays in keeping the machine running. A well written job description can. It provides context in how it interacts with other roles, and how it contributes to the bigger picture.
Where there is possible overlap between similar roles, it provides definition to avoid any confusion.
In closing
We talk a lot about giving people purpose, and I believe that my job description has done just that.
With the clarity it provided, coupled with my own personal leadership and initiative, I have a newfound confidence in my professional life.
Do the job descriptions in your organisation resemble a laundry list of tasks? Or do they provide a framework within which your employees can innovate?
Are they read, digested and carried around like a treasure map (either literally or metaphorically)? Or are they shoved in a random manila folder, never to see the light of day?
Which outcome would you prefer your job descriptions inspire?

Contact Kevin by email at kevin.dwyer@changefactory.com.au or via phone on +61 (0)408 508 490

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