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MECA Consulting Blog

What Do You Do? Job Descriptions

Monday, November 16, 2015

Does everyone in your office know what they are supposed to do?  Are they actually doing them?   In my experience, most businesses have staff that do the best they can but generally fall into a routine where they do what they want to do and not always what they should be doing.  This same concept holds true for the managers and the leaders of the business.  We are all creatures of habit and we do what we like to do and feel comfortable doing but not always what we should be doing to make the business run efficiently and effectively.  A written job description can solve many of these challenges.

Does your office have a job description for each member of your team?  When was the last time that it was updated?   No worries, we are about to help you.  

Many offices likely have a job description that they put together some time ago that covers the various positions within the office.  But then as certain positions change or people leave the office and new ones come in these descriptions never get updated and eventually get lost or fall into the category of ”I think we have one somewhere.”   Of course, the later situation usually occurs when a manager has a behavior or performance issue with a staff member when that person is not doing what is expected of them.  By then people are emotional and, well, you know the story from there...  It never ends well.   As I always say in my talks and have written many times before, every problem we have in our business exists because somewhere or someone up stream or in the past did not do what they were supposed to do.  

We are about the remedy many of the situations in your office by developing a job description for everyone in your office.   It is probably common knowledge that job descriptions are a key element in your human resources process.   They are a fundamental piece in our recruitment,
selection, compensation, training, and performance management.   We are going to address a key concept here:  the first being how to build a job description and the second being how to use it correctly.  

Let me be clear on how NOT to do it.   For your already existing personnel there will likely be nothing more demoralizing than for you to walk in and hand them their job description without any input from them.  It is likely they are doing many of the things on your list, not doing others, and many times doing many things you don’t even have on your list which leaves them feeling unappreciated. 

  • First, start by asking them to write down everything they do in their role.  Some tasks will be daily, some weekly, and some with less frequency than that.   This process will create an environment where they feel part of the process. 
  • Have your team be specific about their tasks and timelines in which they do these things. 
  • Give them a deadline of two weeks to get this done.   Be firm in your deadline.  This should be an easy task since they are doing these things daily or weekly.  
  • Ask them to provide an overall summary of what they do, as well as the skills and abilities that someone would need to complete these tasks. An example might be something like this:  “I teach contact lens insertion and removal.   This requires patience and good communication skills.”

Once they hand in their list, organize it into the following sections:

  • Title, effective date, and supervisor
    • A high-level job summary of the key duties
    • Identification of the values, qualifications, or personal characteristics that should be demonstrated with this position.
    • A description of the experience, knowledge, skills and abilities required
    • A detailed list of responsibilities

You can download job description templates for various positions within your office on our website and save hours of work.

Please understand that this is just the start.  As you review the business and what needs to be done, you may have to delegate or assign certain tasks that no one has on their list to ensure that these tasks are getting done.  Add them slowly and ask for volunteers instead of dictating to them what they “get” to do.  Not only will staff pick the tasks that they are more likely to enjoy but it will provide insight into their personalities, preferences and team dynamics. 

Now that you have built these great job descriptions, what do you with them?  Job descriptions can be used in the following ways:

  • Job descriptions assist in making sure your staff duties align with your company vision by giving them guidance as to the value of the company.
    • They are the fundamental piece of your recruitment process.  Instead of hiring a person because you “like” them, you now have a written document or checklist of the personal characteristics, skill sets, and knowledge level that someone must have. In addition, it serves as a great reference during an interview process about exactly what they will be doing.  
    • Job descriptions can also be used to determine areas in need of training and development when expectations or requirements are not being met.
    • Having clear job descriptions also allows for a basis on which to develop compensation plans that ensure jobs are being compensated in ways that reflect their levels of responsibility and qualification in the organization.
    • Finally, when used as a means to communicate expectations, job descriptions can also be used as a basis for performance management. For the employee, having a clear job description allows them to understand the responsibilities and duties that are required and expected of them.

Job descriptions should be reviewed with staff members at least bi-annually and every time the staff changes to ensure that all tasks within the office are actually getting done.  For example, when someone leaves, his or her responsibilities will have to be shard between the remaining team until that position is filled.  They can only know what they are supposed to do if they have clear direction.

By giving your staff clear direction about what they are supposed to do, you clear the path for them to get things done.  To learn more about job descriptions, be sure to check out our 5 part video podcasts of Creating A Great Job Description.  If you need any help please don’t hesitate to contact my team.  We would love the opportunity to help make your business better. 

Bet Wishes,


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