Unfortunately, Adina is not alone in the way she considers job descriptions (refer YouTube video above).
When I ask Business Owners/Managers (and not just Small Business Owners/Managers) if they have documented Job Descriptions for all roles in their businesses, too larger number reply “Oh I don’t have time to do that – besides I know in my head what I need them to do”.
Interesting, I think, and then raise the logical question “so in relation to your XYZ position, what do you need them to do?”
“Well” is the reply, “I need them to do this, this and this” which is more often than not the technical aspect of the job (eg, bookkeeping for a Bookkeeper position or computer configuration for an IT position).
“Terrific” I say, “and how do you want them to treat your customers? What sort of relationship with the other staff and you do you wish them to build? What sort of employee do you want them to be? What sorts of things do you want your people to be saying about you and your business to others who maybe looking for work?”
Statistics indicate that recruitment of employees costs approximately 2 ½ times the salary of the position (actual costs of advertising etc, time to consider applicants and interview, training of new employee, potential overtime for others to do the work whilst recruiting, loss of productivity whilst new employee reaches full performance etc). Further, benchmarks also support that it can take close to 12 months for an employee to be working at full productivity and that, employers can expect to hold onto an employee, on average, for 2-3 years. In other words, we invest for 12 months to bring a new employee to peek performance to hold onto them for another 1-2 years.
Job Descriptions (particularly when documented) are sound tools for businesses to:
- group work that needs to be done in the best possible way;
- identify both the technical skills and knowledge required as well as the customer focus and personal attributes sought;
- strengthen the chance of employing the right person for the right job and thereby reducing the chance of turnover;
- market a business as an Employer of Choice as a way to attract better candidates than the competition; and
- be the foundation for performance processes.
Can I suggest that investment in well thought out documented Job Descriptions is not a significant cost to a business.
I recently read a wonderful recount of an episode in an organisation.
An employee was working late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. “Excuse me,” said the CEO, “this is a very confidential and important document, and my PA has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”
“Certainly,” said the employee. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
“Excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”
Errors and re-work cost businesses plenty and yet, many handle the issue by merely venting frustration and complaining. People make mistakes and, to some extent, making mistakes is a good way to learn. However, allowing errors and re-work to continue at unacceptable levels results in direct costs to the business, as well as, loss of productivity.
But the 3 “C”s can help on the way to resolving the problem.
- Correct people in the right job: Getting the right person for the right job at the right time has enormous benefits for a business. Making the wrong decision can be stressful, confusing and expensive. Refer our previous blog on “Who to Employ” to start you on your way.
- Communicate: OK, you may have the right people with the right skills doing the right job, however, communication and consultation needs to be facilitated amongst the team. No one is an island – no employee can work in isolation to the rest of the organisation – keep people informed in relation to business activities; stress the importance of everyone talking and working together to make sure things don’t slip through the cracks or misunderstandings occur; think about just how urgent things are before asking someone not familiar with an aspect of work to help out.
- Continuously monitor and measure: Job costing and timesheets are great tools to monitor and measure work and costs. Monitoring and measuring the time it takes to do work, the materials used etc will provide invaluable information to identify areas prone to error or re-work and enable better practices, policies and procedures to be developed to minimize and/or get rid of these situations.