Start with the job description of the role you need to fill. If there isn’t one, because this is a new role, you should create the job description before you go looking for the talent to fill it. Nobody (except the insane or the insanely wealthy) buys an expensive painting and then looks for a house to hang it in.
Start your job description with a list of tasks.
How do you know if you need another employee? A job description will tell you if the need is real or if you are feeling temporarily over-burdened with too much on your plate. Begin by listing the recurring tasks you would have the person do. If you can’t fill the list don’t hire anyone. If you can, your list is the job description. It contains the specific responsibilities you are going to pay someone to perform.
Avoid generalities as found in a corporate job description – be specific. State tasks such as; balancing checking account; posting invoices to the ledger; answering customer complaints; opening the mail; conducting a monthly physical inventory. Properly written, it will specify the personal qualifications of the job.
I know the owner of a small hi-tech firm who could not keep an office receptionist, each one quit in frustration. Why? He was hiring the wrong person. The position was 90% accounting; he solved his problem with a bookkeeper. Use your list of tasks to pinpoint the personal qualifications, talents and skills you are looking for.
Use the job description to detail your employees’ responsibilities.
A job description can help you to avoid surprises and misunderstandings if you specifically state what you want accomplished. You won’t hear such comments as ‘I didn’t know I was supposed to’ or ‘you didn’t tell me’. It can underscore the relationship between you and your employee.
A real benefit of the job description is that it becomes a contract of responsibility and expectations. Both you and your employee will have a firm understanding of your relationship as it removes the guesswork, vagueness, uncertainty and generalisations. Use it to review your employee’s performance. Because an employee’s responsibilities may change as your business grows, so should the job description. It needs to be a working document – flexible and reflecting your business needs. I suggest you periodically meet with your employee(s) and review it. Discuss what works, as well as the difficult or impractical areas that need to be revised. It is your opportunity to review your employee’s performance with meaning and not a conversation couched in guarded language. Use annual appraisals to update the job description.
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