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.
Unless the write up has the purposes, goals, actions and statistics, it doesn't describe a whole lot does it? This is why many of us snort at the concept; the write ups are often vague (or just verbal understandings) and they often fail to reflect the reality of the situation.
Companies post job descriptions at very high level and try to market it with attractive wordings. An example is IT consulting. The companies often uses big words to describe something mundane and routine. In some ways, it attracted alot of new people to join. Especially the ambitious young folks. They think consulting is some sort of glamorous life style but later to find out that all they do is project management administrative work or testing. They find out that the real job is not really challenging so turn over is extremely high.
I do not think most of the job descriptions really cover the all the duties and responsibilities. But the engineers should be able to understand what a particular job is referring to and what are all the different duties that one has to handle on the job. For the fresh graduates certainly it is difficult but they should interact with forums such as eetimes or ebn to really find out clear details. For the experienced people it will be clear how one has to take up new initiatives that could help the companies to save money or to generate more revenue. Other sides of this we always have goals/key result areas defined which will enable any employee to clearly understand his responsibilities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The "Hat Pack" is quite comprehensive and it would be fantastic if every new employee received all that information. Something tells me that if they are not even given clear job descriptions, they probably will not get a more comprehensive, descriptive content regarding the "world" around them. I agree that it would represent great leadership in their employer. Something tells me though that depending on the post in questions, the employer would argue that a self starter - want to succeed sort of emplyee, should take the initiative to find out all the information on their own and figure out the scope of the job (which is probably do whatever needs to be done) on their own. Cop out - sure - but it is the party line.
You're tracking in the right direction on this one. In fact the best "source" for a hat pack is the person who holds the post. There's actually two forms of hatting in the management system we use:
1. Instant Hatting - which covers the basics when someone new comes on board. Here's your work area. Here are your tools. There's the bathroom. Here's what we need to get done today. These are the basics just to get someone oriented.
2. Comprehensive Hatting - this is indeed the summary of the post (purposes, procedures, policies and statistics). And yes, a real self-starter who wants to own his post will take the initiative to put one together, or make one based on the reality of the scene he influences. Administrators at the senior levels don't necessarily have the detailed view at every level of the organization, so it's logical to have individuals author their own hat packs provided they are consistent with the intended products of their departments, divisions or organizations.
I can see that. Actually having an individual put together their own hat pack would show initiative and it would also benefit the employer in that the employee would have ownership. It is much better for someone to say here is what I plan to do to succeed vs someone telling you here is what I need you to do. The former is much more productive and successful in the long run.
Yes, and time-saving too when one person moves on to another post in the organization or another one. Here then is the written reference for success which may be used by the one who inherits the post afterward. Otherwise, you end up with another concept I'll describe in future posts - developed traffic or dev-T.
According to me it's always better to have a job description. It's not like if we have job description then only there is a guarantee about the results. But to have the accountancy it's always better to divide the job into finite sections and to assign these to individuals as per the job description. This way the efficiency wll go up.
Job descriptions and specifications are important tools for people management. However, a far more effective way is to set KRAs with your management. These are much more specific and actually track one's performance over a specific period of time instead of the broad range of responsibilities that constitute the Job descriptions!
Thanks for clarifying. You'd be amazed at how misunderstood this concept can be e even among some of the senior-most people in the organization. Every post has a product and when that product doesn't support the overall objective of the organization, it can be a terrible waste even if undetected.
Job Descriptions are a vital tool for interviewing if they are designed the right way. They need to be simple, clear and flexible.A good job description introduces subject for discussion between the person and the manager and it lets the people to understand the results that are expected from their efforts.
Bear in mind the description can be amended so long as it's purpose doesn't deviate from the end product of the department, division or organization. This is normal in most organizations. Just don't let your organizing boards revolve around the people. The posts are the stable reference points around which your information travels.
job description does give a flavor of what is expected of a candidate and help a candidate to narrow the list of suitable jobs. Although i agree that not everything that is written in job description is entirely true and changes as one starts to work but it certainly helps.
Yes, the job description does give a flavor. Good analogy actually. Remember, the step up from this is the hat pack itself which provides (in very clear terms):
1. the purposes of the post
2. the know-how necessary to hold the post
4. the duties of the post
5. the products of the post
6. the statistics related to the post
Once these are written down, they are kep in a folder (digital or hard copy) and are drilled in so they are known without lag or hesitation. If they are in, you'll have less dispersion and randomity in the organization.
yeah true. also job description does give a nice starting point for discussion in interview. Questions like why this job, how do you fit, what skills are necessary etc. are basically purely based on the job description. If a candidate hesitates to answer even these basic questions then it shows a lack of preparation or poor candidacy and can be striked out as suitable persons.
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.