Please No More Job Description Questions!

I am proud to be a valuable resource to so many companies and their managers, but please stop asking me to how to define individual jobs. A job description isn’t going to fix anything, help anyone’s career, or add value to your business. And trust me, your customers sure don’t care….OK, I’ll take it down a notch. Job descriptions have a place in organizational documentation and many employees do need the definition and structure to better understand their roles. However, before you embark on a wild goose chase to define a job, please honestly answer for me WHY?

Is it because you are finally going to give all those performance reviews, but you need to first tell folks what they are being evaluated against? Or, are you having performance issues and think that job descriptions will clear that up or at least give you a tool to reprimand with? Perhaps you want to narrow the focus of those individuals that seem to stick their nose into other people’s work? All of the above?

(For a good explanation on the HR reasons why to use job descriptions, check out, which is my favorite resource on this subject.)

Before anyone can help you create effective and relevant job descriptions, you have to define four critical management decisions. The first is Outcome. What does success in this position look like? What is the goal? Be specific. For instance, don’t define revenue growth as the goal and then complain about the type of work, customer, or profit margins of that revenue.

The second management decision is Budget. Everything in business costs money and without a budget it is impossible to make timely decisions and complete work efficiently without micro-managing, which is neither timely nor efficient. What discretion if any will the employee in question have to spend money (or time) in their role?

The third management task is to define Process and perhaps more importantly, process owners. Process owners are not only responsible for executing processes, but refining them as well. They need control of some budget in order to do this effectively. Will this employee have any say in the process?

The final management responsibility is to define Tasks. A smart manager will delegate his or her responsibility by defining Outcome, assigning Budget, and designating a Process Owner, who can then define Tasks. Generally tasks are something that are important but not necessarily urgent. Who decides which is which?

If you can define Outcome, Budget, Process, and Tasks then job descriptions become much simpler. An entry level worker will likely have several specific tasks they are assigned (and are non-negotiable), which fall into a designated process group. A Supervisor will manage multiple processes and perhaps a small budget, as opposed to managing employees. He or she will have workers assigned to each process and the supervisor will make spending decisions within the constraints of the budget. A Manager is responsible for several processes, budgets, and supervisors in addition to one or more Outcomes. Executives and CEO’s have a higher order of Outcome, Budget, and Process responsibilities, and so on.

Free Webinar

To better understand how process management can replace or support job descriptions, join me in a webinar on August 21, 2015. It’s titled Managing Job Descriptions in Progressive Companies.

Tom Stimson MBA, CTS helps owners and management teams rediscover the fun and profit that comes from making better decisions about smarter goals. He is an expert on project-based selling and a thought leader for innovative business processes. Since 2006, Tom has successfully advised over two hundred companies and organizations on business strategy, process, marketing, and sales. Please send your questions

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