A job description should provide job clarity to the individual that is filling a job and to others that need to interact with him. We all know this system is not working. How can you fix it?
Almost everyone has a job description that usually was created for him before he was recruited to work. Everyone agrees that after two to four months, their job description is no longer define and explain what they are doing at work.
Over time most individuals are gaining more professional responsibilities or taking non-professional duties, such as organizing an event. One way or another the job description that describes our accountabilities become obsolete very fast, as no one is keeping it updates.
The job description is the mechanism that should provide clarity for who is responsible for and who is managing what. This functionality is crucial for reducing conflicts at work as most of the conflicts (at work) starting due to unclear definition and expectation from other people working with you.
There are four simple steps that you can take to make accountabilities and managed assets clearer. As a result, the number of conflicts at work will reduce. You can measure it!
Throw away Job description and roles, use functions
Job descriptions are usually stating with one paragraph about the job expectation, following by a list of duties which in most cases including instructions on how to achieve them. Some job description will be short, and some job descriptions are very long (mine was four pages in my last position). The mental model behind job description is that a person will fill each one of them. That is the reason why most of them have the bullet “and any other task as assigned”. When a job description defines person role, it’s going to be a long one, or the person is going to be idle part of his time at work.
Functions are taking a different approach. They break job description to several accountabilities that can be measured and defined together and assign to a person.
When a list of accountabilities can be grouped with related managed assets, clear purpose, and metrics that can measure progress, They should be a function.
Functions must have a purpose that derived from the group, (the function is part of) purpose. The function also defines the responsibilities one should perform to fill it, not how he should do it. On top of this basic data, functions also contain other data that helps people that provide or consume them to understand better what to expect from them.
From the point of the functions, each person will fill several functions. Functions are the essential building block of organization structure. By breaking job descriptions into functions we are creating more agility in the business structure and enabling quick and easy changes by reassigning functions to different people.
While some of the job descriptions can be converted to one function, the majority of them will be converted to several dedicated functions.
Add valuable data to function definitions (so people will use it)
Adding purpose, interactions, metrics, events, models, and feedbacks makes functions reacher with valuable data for the provider and the consumer point of view.
Purpose helped to understand what to expect from the function and what the function suppose to achieve. Understanding the purpose of a function enable both providers and consumers to add or remove accountabilities to the function.
Interaction with other functions helps the person that fills the function to know who needs to be informed when he is taking actions or making decisions.
Metrics help anyone to understand how the performance of a function is trading.
Events and models help everyone to understand which event will trigger the response of the function, and what the function will do.
Feedback creates interactive interaction between a person that fill a function and all of his consumers.
Use a system that will enable an easy way to add, maintain, and search functions and people.
Computerizing the process of adding, maintaining, and searching this database will make the entire system more comfortable to use. This system is not a complex system that needs years of work to make it usable to people.
Think about a service like Alexa at work that you can ask, who is responsible for maintaining the printing machines? And the computer will say Natty Gur or even call me for you.
Define a function that is responsible for maintaining the group’s functions
Last but not least, let make someone accountable for maintaining all functions and their properties in a group. When there is a dedicated function for that with metrics and feedbacks, you’ll see how people keeping the system updated.