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Keeping job descriptions current and accurate

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Your employees have job titles. And specific duties are inherent in the title. But, often, it’s not that simple. Jobs take on a life of their own as new tasks are added or some are taken away, or even modified. Here are some guidelines to help you keep job descriptions in line with the actual work your employees do:

1. Log what actually happens. Start the description-writing process by having people who now hold the job take notes for a day, a week, or a month on what they actually do. Choose the shortest period that will cover nearly everything they will encounter.

2. Compile real job requirements. Combine these notes into a single list of activities and their associated skills. For example, contract preparation might require typing, familiarity with legal terms and the ability to follow marked-up changes on early drafts. Client contact might call for good communication and negotiation skills, plus the ability to listen carefully and take reliable notes.

3. Check for accuracy and completeness. Review the list for obvious errors or omissions. For insurance, ask others in the organization who interact with the person who performs the job.

4. Make it sing. Convert the edited list into a narrative description that shows how all the activities fit together. For example, describe how work flows into and out of the position, how the job holder interacts with others, where time and quality pressures occur most often, and what performance criteria count the most in evaluations.

5. Review it regularly. Some organizations tie job descriptions to performance reviews. The supervisor not only evaluates the employee against the job description, but the job description against the employee’s recent activities. Try reviewing and revising job descriptions regularly, and you’ll find that changes tend to be small and easy to make.

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