Transformation Solutions Blog

Results-Focused Job Descriptions – a Solid System for Accountability

July 10th, 2012

While executives spend significant time crafting organizational strategies and goals, employee understanding of how their job connects to these strategies is still extremely low. Consider the following data points:

  • In Towers Perrin’s “Rewards & Challenges Survey,” they identified that 82% of employees felt they had a low to average level of understanding of the impact of their performance on business results.
  • Additionally, it is estimated that 64% of performance issues stem from the employees lack of understanding of the requirements of his/her role.
  • IDC research determined that, on average, 1 in 4 employees misunderstands at least one crucial aspect of their jobs — costing businesses an estimated $37 billion.
  • In DDI’s survey “Leaders in Transition” they identified that nearly 1 out of every 5 people leaders ranks making a leadership transition as the most challenging life event. With 1/3 of strategic leaders making that claim! Additionally, 52% of these leaders stated that the #1 item that would help them make a successful transition was “a clear sense of performance expectations.”

People in an organization generally deliver what they are measured on. Traditional job descriptions focus on what activities the employee should be seen doing. Because what gets measured gets done, measuring activity leads to the generation of more activity. Employee surveys show that if people are not clear about their roles and how they relate to each other in the group, effective teamwork may be difficult to achieve.

Results-focused job descriptions identify the results a job delivers, how that performance will be measured, and the specific skills and competencies required for successful performance. Defining the “deliverables” of the job rather than providing an all-exhaustive list of the tasks an employee is expected to perform gets employees out of the activity trap, helps drive employee line-of-sight to strategy, provides a mechanism to see how responsibilities cascade through the organization, addresses the nature of today’s knowledge-based work, enables innovation and diversity, and facilitates effective measurement. See a sample.

When employees know what is expected of them, which aspects of their jobs are most important, and how their performance will be evaluated, work groups typically will be more effective. People will take initiative, appropriate risk, and innovate when necessary because they – like the rest of the organization – understand the scope and interrelationships of their roles.
Moreover, the process of creating a job description offers a rare opportunity to examine your team and your company as a whole, and consider what human resources you will need to succeed. Where are you now? Where would you like to be in the future? And what kinds of skills and abilities will your people need to help get your company from here to there? A carefully drafted job results-focused description positions and prepares your group for the future.