Outdated Job Descriptions

Many people quit looking for work the day they find a job. On one level this is funny on another it translates as ‘people only do the work that’s in their job description’.

Finding that perfect job?

If a job description for a concierge says ‘Open the entrance door for arriving guests and greet them courteously’, this makes sense. But the concierge will be left wondering whose responsibility it is to close the door again.

1. One day everyone will have a job description that actually describes their role properly.

2. One day Walt Disney’s dream of money being abolished and everything being done through barter will become reality.

Neither of these statements is likely to become true anytime soon.

Job roles evolve over time, particularly in small businesses. Very rare is the owner or manager that has the time to maintain job descriptions so that they actually reflect the tasks people are performing in a role. This often means that when someone leaves and a replacement is hired on the basis of the job description (which was used as a framework for the job advertisement) everyone is happy for a short while. The job seeker has found gainful employment and the employer has someone with exactly the same skills that have just gone off towards new horizons with the leaver.

It doesn’t take long for people to realise that the new hire is far more efficient than the leaver because he or she has a lot of time to chat about television and all manner of things social and everyone is impressed …… except that a few things are slipping by unnoticed. It’s not that the new appointee is slacking, it’s just that their predecessor used to monitor material stocks and routinely order top-up supplies. It might only be lowly paper and toner cartridges or cable ties and electrical tape, but without them things tend to grind to a halt for a while.

The people who have been emptying the cupboard won’t mention it because they’ve never had to (and it’s not in their job description to remind others). Only when someone needs nine of something and there are only six left will the cause surface – there are shortfalls in the job description.

Subsequently, when it transpires that half of the leaver’s time was spent dealing with things not in the job description, the owner or manager is put in the position of having to renegotiate with the new worker – who may not even have any aptitude for all of this ‘additional’ work that they’re now being asked to take on.

While you were reading this it was pretty obvious what was coming.

“Fool!” you cried with scorn as the inevitable unfolded.

Or did you start to think about those job descriptions that were written three years ago and have been sealed in a drawer protected from dust ever since. Perhaps you thought about a vacancy you’re currently trying to fill and how you were asked “What needs to go in the ad?” You probably pointed them at the job description.


Chris Slay