Job Descriptions Viewed as Critical Tools to Getting the Job Done

Job Descriptions Viewed as Critical Tools to Getting the Job Done

Job descriptions are no fun to write, and many small businesses in the kitchen and bath industry tend to do away with written job descriptions altogether.

They shouldn't.

First of all, the wide range of laws, guidelines and court decisions concerning equal employment opportunities make job descriptions necessary. Small businesses are quite vulnerable on the issue of discrimination in employment practices. One way to defend employment practices is to conduct job analysis and prepare written job descriptions.

Small businesses are also highly vulnerable on issues involving the termination of employees. Again, to protect your business against lawsuits, a written job description can be a valuable tool.

Written job descriptions can also be very valuable when it comes to the issue of quality control. When details fall through the cracks, is it the fault of the employee, or is it the fault of the jobs you're asking your employee to do? It may be that things are not being done because no one is assigned to get them done. Too often, when job descriptions are not written out, employers tend to have mistaken ideas of what the employee thinks his job is. Written job descriptions help find and repair these shadowy areas.

If you're an employer, the best way to get written job descriptions is to delegate and have each employee write his own job description. 

Here are some tips to help them:

  • Ask your employees to spend some time thinking about their jobs. They should make notes, or keep a diary of work-related activities.
  • Focus on the facts. Ask them not to overstate or understate duties, knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics.
  • Refrain from side issues. Job performance, wages, complaints, relationships with co-workers, and similar issues are not relevant to this activity.
  • Make each employee aware that there will be no adverse consequences from this job analysis. Assure them that no person's salary will be reduced and no person's job will be eliminated.

For example, these may be the duties of your office manager:
1. Answers telephone and provides assistance or routes caller to appropriate staff member.
2. Takes phone or visitor messages and delivers to appropriate individual. 
3. Greets visitors to the showroom and directs them to appropriate individual. 
4. Opens, date stamps, sorts and distributes mail. 
5. Compiles and types statistical reports, including tables and text using spreadsheet software. 
6. Operates and maintains fax and copy machines. 
7. Monitors and purchases office supplies.
8. Makes copies, collates and staples materials as requested. 
9. Establishes and maintains files; files and retrieves files. 

In addition, your office manager must have knowledge of modern office procedures and methods including telephone communications, office systems and record keeping. He or she needs to know modern business communication, including style and format of letters, memoranda, minutes and reports. He or she needs the skill to use a personal computer and various software packages, the ability to establish priorities, work independently and proceed with objectives without supervision. And, he or she must handle and resolve recurring problems.

With a detailed job description like this in place, you have a clear sense of what your office manager does. You no longer wonder why when you see a coffee cup on a countertop in a display, for example the office manager hasn't retrieved it; it's not in the job description. (You may wish to add light showroom clean-up to the duties; then you and the office manager are no longer taking it for granted).

Furthermore, you now have an excellent basis for conducting performance reviews of your office manager, as well as your other employees once the job descriptions are completed. You also have an objective way to judge workload if you have to re-assign duties or add part-time help. And, when you have to replace an employee, you have a want ad that almost writes itself and an excellent way to qualify job applicants easily.

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