Overview of Developing Job Descriptions

How to Develop:

Effective Job Titles
Job Summaries
Core Responsibilities
Behavioral Expectations



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Overview of Developing Job Descriptions


Clear, accurate, detailed job descriptions are important to the performance of your organization and the associates in your organization. If associates know clearly what is expected of them, it is much easier for them to focus their time and energy toward success. Job descriptions also enable you to determine measurable performance criteria by which positions can be evaluated.

The foundation for developing performance criteria is having working job descriptions for each position in the organization. The purpose of this material is to provide a template for developing job descriptions for your organization that can contribute to a dynamic performance management system.

While the content of the job description will vary from position to position, the template for each job description should be the same.

The Importance of Effective Job Descriptions

Effective job descriptions are essential if you plan to pay your staff based on their performance. An effective job description is defined in the following way:

If someone can read the job description and has a clear understanding of what they should do in this position and how it should be done, you have an effective job description.

Keep it Manageable

I recently read a job description that had a section entitled “Work Behavior.” There were twenty seven different behaviors that were expected of someone in this section. This was in addition to two pages of core responsibilities, and one page of job competencies. While everything in the job description was valid, it was system overload. People can only focus on a handful of key expectations. If you try to “cover the waterfront” by including everything you can imagine, you will effectively overload the person and dilute the person’s focus.

Work off of the “handful” strategy. There are four fingers and a thumb on your hand. Keep the areas of core responsibility to five or less. Keep the categories of behavioral expectations to five or less. You will accomplish two important goals if you use this practical strategy:

First, you will be forced to really identify the core responsibilities and expectations for someone in this position.

Second, you will be able to cluster many responsibilities or expectations under a limited number of headings. The task of being successful in this position will appear more manageable to the person.

Direct Relationship between the Job Description and the Performance Review Form

Another reason for developing effective job descriptions is that the performance review form should actually measure each of the core responsibilities and behavioral expectations listed in the job description. If the job description is clear it will be very easy to develop a performance review form that directly correlated to the job description.

The Components of an Effective Job Description

An effective job description will have the following sections:

Section One
Job or Position Title

Supervisor for this position
Department in which this position is located
Direct reports if the position is a supervisory position

Section Two
Job Summary

The job summary is a one to three sentence summary of the responsibilities of someone in this position. The job summary should provide a general overview to help someone understand the general expectations in this position.

Section Three
Core Responsibilities

This section should outline the core responsibilities of this position, providing relevant detail to help the person understand what is expected related to this core responsibility.

Section Four
Behavioral Expectations

This section should contain the three to five key behaviors that someone should exhibit to be successful in this position. Each of these behaviors should be accompanied by three to five descriptors that give someone a clear understanding of what this behavior looks like.

Section Five
For hiring and selection purpose the job description may also have a section that includes:

Skills, Knowledge, Talents
Minimum requirements
Exempt or Non-exempt status
Work environment descriptions

This can also be in a separate document that is included in the job description for hiring purposes.

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