Good Job Descriptions Can Save Your Bacon

 In Assess & Protect


There’s nothing sexier than…

…good Job Descriptions! We had you going there for a minute, didn’t we? Well, it’s really true. Good job descriptions can save your bacon in a lot of ways and save you time and money….and there’s nothing sexier than that!

Q: Come’ on, are job descriptions really necessary? I have Standard Operating Procedures on how most of my employees need to do their job so isn’t that enough?

A: We strongly recommend that you have both JDs & SOPs.

SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures define “How To” do the job – they should contain step by step instructions employees need to follow in order to do their job safely, quickly and efficiently.

Job Descriptions (or Position Descriptions) define “What” the job is – they should include the essential and marginal functions of the job, what is expected of a person in the job, the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to successfully perform the job, and info on what relationships the position will have with other positions, departments and locations.

Good job descriptions can save your bacon if they also include information about the working conditions, environmental factors, and the mental and physical requirements necessary to complete the job.

Q: Should I create position descriptions after I hire someone into the position?

A: NO. Well, kinda sorta. If you don’t have JDs for employees already in a position, you should create them as soon as possible. Good job descriptions can save your bacon only if they exist! Of course, it’s a great practice to give employees clarity about their job, regardless of their time in the role. Ideally, we recommend that you create them prior to a position being filled. This gives you the information you need to screen candidates and set performance expectations.

Job descriptions – a powerful management tool

Q: It takes a whole lot of thought and work to create good job descriptions, so are there additional valuable uses for them?

A: No matter the size of your business, creating JDs is one of the best investments you can make as a business owner. If great thought is put into them, they can be a powerful management tool.

Many organizations use job descriptions to help advertise an open position, to brand their organization and entice a potential candidate to apply, and to ensure clarity around how an employee’s performance stacks up against the job during the performance review process. Job descriptions are also a great way to communicate changes in roles, reporting, and organizational structure.

Q: Can I ask an employee to perform a task not outlined on his/her position description?

A: Yes! Job descriptions must be flexible enough so that employers can occasionally assign tasks outside the normal scope of the job and so that employees are comfortable cross-training, helping co-workers, and feeling confident they can make appropriate decisions to serve their customers. The key here is that you want to encourage employees to be comfortable in taking reasonable chances and stretching their limits and discourage a “that’s not my job” mentality.

Writing job descriptions

Q: I am not sure who should write the job descriptions in my organization. Any suggestions as to who should do so?

A: It doesn’t matter if the owner, supervisor, operations manager, or admin writes the job descriptions. The key is to properly describe the duties, responsibilities, required qualifications, and reporting relationships of each job. In order to do this, a business must first have a full understanding of what the role must do, how it fits in within the organization and the future goals, and what knowledge and skills it requires. As a result, creating job descriptions may require a team effort. The best place to start is with the person currently in the role – have each employee write down what they do.

Want a tool to help your employees capture the details of their role? Click the button below and we’ll send you a FREE “Job Analysis Questionnaire” worksheet.


Q: Once I create all of my job descriptions am I set forever? Do I need to do anything else to them?

A: No. You are not set forever. It is critical to understand that job descriptions become dated as soon as your business, a process, or a role within your business starts to change. As a result, you should update them annually.

Do you already have job descriptions for every job in your industry and are you using them correctly?

Remember, good job descriptions can save your bacon in many, many ways because they bring so much clarity to a role.

So if you don’t have them, check out our Job Description Kit.  We give you the tools to easily create all of them.

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