Each year, the typical American company invests 36% of their sales in their human capital. According to the book, Play to Your Strengths, “human capital is the biggest investment about which management knows the least.”
Puzzle Piece #1
Job Descriptions Done Properly
In the interest of learning more about this investment, let’s explore an often neglected, misused and underutilized tool, the job description.
Job Description Defined
A job description is detailed analysis and definition of a job; all the duties, responsibilities, and conditions required in the performance of a particular job.
OK, But Why Bother?
If your job descriptions are merely a list of activities, qualifications and generic responsibilities, I’m guessing that your performance reviews are a frustrating exercise for both the managers and their subordinates. Perhaps a waste of time and resources?
Every job should have a purpose: an expectation for achievements that result from that list of job description tasks. How effective are we at communicating these expectations? All too often, the goals and desired achievements are undefined. We communicate the what and how of a position with minimal communication of the why. If you want star performances, wouldn’t it make sense to define, in measurable terms, what star performance should look like? How often do we skip this step and in effect, hire and hope.
Do your Job/Position Descriptions…
- exist at all?
- exist for reasons other than to satisfy compliance requirements or to justify terminations?
- play a functional role in recruiting and developing potential high achievers?
- provide the basis for meaningful, ongoing performance reviews?
- describe the role that the job plays in the pursuit of the organization’s strategic plan?
- provide criteria that enable the person doing the job to instinctively answer the question: “What should I do first?”
- list the key measurable achievements for which the person is accountable?
How many items could you check? The fewer you’ve done, the more likely you’re squandering that investment that, for most, is 36% of your sales! Using the form below, you can send me your results.
In the absence of meaningful job descriptions with mutually understood accountabilities, you are more likely to have a lot of well intentioned, busy people who struggle to make decisions and don’t get much accomplished. You’re playing a game we might call stump the chump. And winners are tough to find.
Puzzle Piece #2
Identifying Potential Peak Performers
Improving your Job Descriptions and performance review process are a good place to start improving your return on human capital.
Another piece of The Performance Puzzle is to assure that you have the right people in the right jobs. For that, I recommend exploring a process called Job Benchmarking. By combining computer science with behavioral science, you gain unprecedented insight for promotion and hiring decisions. It reduces your risk of a bad hire and predicts areas for improvement where even successful candidates will struggle.
Having used Job Benchmarking, I would never make a key hiring or promotion decision without it.