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Give People a Reason to Stay - Let Them Know What is Required

Aug 17, 2007
In a previous article we covered the subject of providing direction to people, letting them know where the business is going and what their contribution to it might be. This article we will discuss how they contribute to this.

Research we often quote involved asking employees if they knew what is expected of them in their jobs. The responses were:
Don't know 3%
Unsure 12%
Fairly sure 44%
Know exactly 41%

We have shown these figures to dozens of groups over the years and, almost without exception, no one has said their organization would be any better. This might mean that 59% of the workforce does not know exactly what is required of them!

What does this do for productivity? What does this do for stress? How would it feel to work hard all day, everyday, and still not be sure you are doing what is expected?

While job descriptions seem to have acquired a poor reputation, we feel that, properly designed, they are a necessary and very useful document. Contrary to some views, we don't believe they cramp anyone's creativity or provide a shield to hide behind.

The format we recommend provides a valuable tool to convert corporate objectives into individual key result areas - not a list of tasks. The understanding this gives each job holder is a useful clarification of what is required and how it fits into the overall corporate structure.

By focusing on key result areas rather than a list of tasks the individual can make their own decisions, set priorities and be innovative.

Having measures in place will ensure there is complete understanding of what success is. This is often the area where there is confusion. Clear measures to avoid any ambiguity as to whether the result has been achieved or not is all that is required.

It is usually best to measure the outputs of any process such as sales achieved or units produced but sometimes the job does not lend itself to this. In these cases, focusing on inputs such as orders processed and customer queries answered is quite valid. The sales resulting from these jobs may not be within the control of the job holder but the job and the actions taken are still important and can still be measured.

Every employee in an organization should understand the primary purpose of their role and where it fits into the whole. With this understanding, each employee can feel their work is worthwhile and see the linkage between what they do and what the whole organization does. Passion and engagement is much more likely in employees who know what's expected of them.

Imagine the difference to your business compared to your competitors' if you have your staff knowing what's expected of them and your competitors' have 59% who don't!

If you would like a sample job description showing this layout please go to the website shown with the author's details and click on Free Downloads.

The job description covers the "what" of a job. As important, if not more so, is the "how" people do the job. We will cover this in a future article.
About the Author
Paul Phillips is a Director of Horizon Management Group; a specialist human resource management consulting firm. He has over 30 years experience in HR and, while based in Australia, has worked in a number of overseas locations. www.horizonmg.com
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