Great input on the subject of job descriptions. I too never really had any meaningful job descriptions handed to me over the course of my career. Usually it came down to a set of verbal orders or guidelines plus whatever value I could add along the way. Now had I been indoctrinated with a "hat pack," that would have been a little different. See unlike a job description, a hat writeup should contain enough data about the post including its purpose(s), statistics and relationship to the rest of the organization. This way a new person coming in applies his energy to what's needed and wanted vs. what he thinks is necesssary based on false data, old habits or routines that keep one busy, but don't necessarily contribute to the ideal scene. In today's economy, I don't think the sink or swim method is good leadership on its own.
To somewhat support eemom's point, I will say that "traditional" job descriptions seem to be far less common than they used to be, and now you are far more likely just to be given a list of potential responsibilities or tasks you may be required to perform.
Anyhow, I don't spend much time worrying about job descriptions, but job TITLES are a completely different matter. There is so much inconsistency with them, even within ones own organization. And of course even the same job title could mean vastly different things from organization-to-organization.
But to be fair, many jobs these days are a little more complicated than things were back in the "hat" days: I'm pretty sure there was no "Project Manager" working on that train.
I must say that in entire career, I've never been handed a job description. In my interviews, I've been told the scope of the job and I have extrapolated the discussion to figure out what I need to do. When I started hiring people, I did the same. Those who were self starters figured out what they need to do to succeed, others needed to be told. In general, I found that those who needed a job description spelled out were ones that were afraid of making mistakes, and/or ones that did not want to go above and beyond the call of duty.
A value of an employee to an employer is one that can take little direction and hit the ground running.
It would be better for both the employer and employee if a job description was clear and highlighted the employee's responsibilities. I do realize though that some job positions would be harder to narrow down and clarify than others.
Job descriptions are just highwash given during the process of recruitment, hardly it matches and always people end up doing more than what has to be done and also are enforce to do something out of their way. I could say it has become a trend to just state the description and not following the same.
I think that most job descriptions are posted with ambiguity on purpose because there are more tasks that will be required of the individual than simply what is highlighted. In my experience, I have always done more than what was specified in the job post. It is usually left up to the manager/supervisor to determine what you'll actually be doing.
Most job descriptions do not cover all work assignments. Those that describe work tasks are written with a lot of ambiguity that are open to mis-interpretation. Many human services managers have standard or generic work expectations that do not often cover all the deliverables expected of the service organization. This lack of clarity is unfortunate and often compensated for in some organizations by use of policies and procedures manual. So if you are not clear about the job descriptions, ask your supervisor regarding each line item and the accompanying P & P.
Many executives and managers have experienced the frustration of uncovering a problem in the organization or department that should have been handled by an employee in the normal course of business. And the worse thing I hear are explanations like "Well that's how things are today," or "People are just lazy," or "well it's not in my job description." Horrible things to go into agreement with!
So let's look at a resolution; the hat pack. It comes from the days of rail travel where each of the workers on a train could be identified by the hat they wore. Though many distributors and manufacturers have and use job descriptions, few of those contain the components called for in a hat pack. As a result, it's common for jobs and functions to get tangled up. The sales manager takes on the duties and functions of the marketing manager, the sales rep gets too heavily involved with the value added department. The results; one employee covers two very important hats and ends up falling short of his targets.
So what's the hat pack then? It is a written pack of material that includes:
The purpose of the post
Its position on the company's organizing board
A writeup of the post
A checksheet of all policies, manuals and procedures for the post
A full pack of written materials (a binder is usually best)
A copy of the organizing board (I'll define this another time)
A flow chart for the post
The product(s) of the post itself
The statistics of the post
If you follow this process and create hats in your organization, that contain these items, you'll have an environment where your staff understands what's expected of them and has the knowledge necessary to think on its feet. The confusion created by assigning dissimilar functions to one employee can be sorted out leading to production in all areas.
So if your profitability and growth depends on how well you move product through the organization, wouldn't it make sense to have everyone well hatted on their posts? If you do, you're bound to see some miraculous results.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.