Why You Should Learn To Love Writing Job Descriptions (Yes, Really!)
Next time you’re hiring, it’s worth spending the time it takes to write a great job description.
Job descriptions are so much more than an HR box to be ticked. They’ll help you hire the right person, and they’re also an incredibly important tool for getting the best out of your employees.
Great job descriptions:
- Provide clear expectations to both candidates applying for a position AND an employee performing the position
- Provide a basis for measuring job performance
- Help to ensure that all responsibilities relate back to the business objectives
- Identify any gaps in job functions which need to be undertaken to ensure the business runs smoothly
- Enable the identification of behavioural competencies required of the job holder
- Help in the process of structuring fair remuneration and reward packages
- Are useful in instances of employee performance management and disciplinary issues
- Provide insight into the training and development needed to assist or further develop the job holder
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to writing a great job description:
MAKE IT LEGAL
First and foremost, be sure to adhere to relevant NZ employment law and make sure that your job description isn’t discriminatory. The Department of Labour’s website is a good place to start, and it pays to get it checked by your lawyer.
COVER OFF THE BASICS
You should include all the basic information about the job. Some of this (such as the physical location) is a legal requirement. At a minimum, you’ll need to include:
- Job title
- Company name
- Who the employee reports to
- Who reports to the employee
- Key relationships within and outside the business
- Key responsibilities
- Key performance indicators
Describe the key responsibilities
A description of the key responsibilities and key performance indicators should form the bulk of the job description. Follow these steps to identify and describe key responsibilities:
- Brainstorm all the functions or tasks that you anticipate the ideal job holder doing – it can be helpful to involve other staff members who know the job well at this stage.
- Keep the detail succinct – if the job holder is required to answer the telephone, don’t then include how to answer the telephone (i.e. pick up within 2 rings and say XYZ). This level of detail should be in the operations or procedures manual. That way, if the procedure changes in future, you only have to change the manual – not all the job descriptions.
- Try to group tasks and responsibilities, e.g. ‘planning and organizing of…’, ‘budgeting and financial control of….’, ‘training of…..’
Develop the Key Performance Indicators
The most difficult part of creating job descriptions is the Key Performance Indicators section. It’s also the most critical to get right.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable measurements, which reflect the critical success factors for the business. For example, if a responsibility for an accounts payable officer is ‘process creditor invoices’, the KPI may be ‘percentage of creditors paid by 12th of the month’
When working out KPIs for individual employees, the aim is not to have KPIs for every job function, as most are not critical to the success of the business – rather, they’re ordinary job functions which should have ordinary job metrics. KPIs are critical to the success of the business and so must be measured.
Next time you’re writing a job description, try not to view it as a pointless chore. It’s an enormously useful tool and will make many aspects of staff management so much easier. You, too, can learn to love your job descriptions!
As a little extra (because we are super nice like that) we offer you a Job description template to view and download in case you need a little help. You’re welcome