Job descriptions have traditionally been written in a static manner. Beginning in the 1970s, the original goal was to comply with the Uniform Guidelines in Selection Act, Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and Americans With Disabilities Act or to meet other contract and business requirements to defend hiring decisions and minimum employment standards. So what has changed?
The advent of computer technology provided the opportunity to revise job descriptions more easily. In health care, employers began to score the performance of each job function using the job criterion method. Many employers began to link job description updates with the performance appraisal cycle or timing of reclassification studies. However, the purpose of the review has largely been limited to facilitating market comparisons and internal equity comparisons.
More recently, some employers have begun to write their job descriptions around competency clusters such as project management, writing skills, software applications, and equipment utilization in work cells. Other employers have taken their core values and written behavioral statements that show the employee understands and shows these values. Both the Company values and the competencies are being prominently displayed on the first and second pages of the job descriptions.
What appears to be lacking is the emphasis on key result areas and key performance indicators, particularly when the organization does not have a separate incentive plan. We know that we can write these standards into the performance appraisal forms but the criteria will not be centered upon the each employee’s position. The outcome is less than perfect.
Some organizations have accepted this challenge, such as Kwikset, and quantitatively defined and scored the competencies, continuing training requirements, and performance outcomes for each job. In this context, the job description, training plan, and performance evaluation plan are all part of one document. In other companies, simply listing the performance measures under the abilities section in the Qualifications Guidelines appears to be an important first step.
What else can be done to improve the active use of the job descriptions?