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How to Write a Simple Job Description

1.0 A timely reminder

In a recent decision in a New South Wales court it was found that an employee was psychologically injured and that contributing factors such as not having a job description and controlling management behaviours were responsible. The employee was subsequently awarded $500,000.00 for psychological injury.

Not having a clear job description can lead to significant expense, declining morale and uncertainty. In this is the case, you the employer is the party that will be penalised and the courts' will not display leniency for ignorance or busyness.

2.0 The Job description

A job is a collection of tasks and responsibilities that an employee is responsible to conduct. Job descriptions are lists of the general tasks and responsibilities of a position.

Typically, they also include to whom the position reports, specifications such as the key responsibilities and qualifications and experience needed by the person in the job and can sometimes includes the salary range for the position.

Job descriptions are usually developed by conducting a job analysis, which includes examining the key tasks necessary to perform the job. The analysis looks at the areas of knowledge and skills needed by the job.A typical job description is used for advertising to attract an employee to fill a position, or to set the boundaries and parameters of the particular position that you want filled.

However, many job descriptions are not framed well and this includes, not worded a job description in a manner such that the employee's performance can be measured and leaving out key flexibility clauses. It is not uncommon for a person to write a position description, hire the employee and then have the employee refuse to do the banking because banking was not incorporated in their job description.

In cases where the dispute has gone legal the employee has a good chance of winning. It's all in the documentation.

When drafting a job description it is paramount to include a flexibility clause that will allow the employer the right to direct the employee to perform other work that is within their recognized skill set.

3.0 What should I include in job description

Your job description is an important document that needs to set out a number of key matters.

3.1 Purpose of the position

The purpose of the position summarises the key reason the position exists within the organisation and a short paraphrase of duties the incumbent is required to understand and take responsibility for.

3.2 Position reports to

Having stated professional boundaries is an important part of the organisation and employees understanding in who they report to and what they are responsible for. This prevents any misunderstanding which in the event of dispute will work against you if you do not have it documented.

3.3 Key responsibilities

This section of the job description details the main tasks that the employee is accountable and responsible for.

It should include the macro items however some employers like to include the micro detail as well.

Of paramount importance is point four of the example (you may be required to undertake a variety of tasks, both skilled and semi-skilled, or carry out some other task which is not specifically within your traditional role provided the task is within your core skill competencies and legal requirements). This gives you flexibility to direct your employee to undertake other work not detailed in their job description. We are now living in an age of discontinuous change where today's tasks change tomorrow and this gives you the flexibility to grow with those changes.

3.4 Core Skills

Core skills are those skills and experience that the incumbent will need as a minimum to perform the job in a professional and responsible manner. As such, you need to take particular notice when interviewing a perspective employee in ensuring they really do have these attributes.

Research has discovered that up to 35% of qualifications, memberships and experience written on a resumes are false. This includes Masters and PhD degrees.

Before giving the position to someone reference check carefully. Recently we assisted an Accountant whose employee warranted they had the skills and passed probation and then after probation dropped the ball.

If a perspective employee signs off to say they have these skills and afterwards displays the contrary you have common law and industrial rights that protect you.

3.5 Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational health and safety is a big ticket item of the industrial agenda today. To many lives lost, over 500 lives lost each year to industrial accidents.

Most job descriptions do not contain reference to the employer and employee working within the framework of health and safety and do so to their peril.

By including this clause, by induction and training you are able to demonstrate your commitment to health ad safety.

3.6 Sign off

Sign off demonstrates that the employee has the core skills, experience, and safety awareness to carry out key responsibilities. In the vent of a dispute this is critical.

You can find more information at www.biz-momentum.com

EXAMPLE

ABC ACCOUNTS

POSITION DESCRIPTION

Senior Receptionist

PURPOSE OF THE POSITION:

To effectively and in a timely manner undertake the duties of senior receptionist providing secretarial, clerical, financial & administration services to ABC Accounts. To assist with other duties as directed by your Manager.

POSITION REPORTS TO: Administration Manager

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:

NO: DUTIES

1. Perform reception duties including answering the telephone in a timely manner, directing client queries to the correct person, screening calls and representing the company in a professional manner.

2. Provide support to the Manager as required including compiling letters, memorandum and reports, screening incoming correspondence and arranging appointments for clients.

3. Process cheques and payment advice associated with the organisation's creditors, debtors and invoices and other accounts payable and receivable in a timely manner.

4. In addition, you may be required to undertake a variety of tasks, both skilled and semi-skilled, or carry out some other task which is not specifically within your traditional role provided the task is within your core skill competencies and legal requirements.

CORE SKILLS:

1. Minimum of 4 years experience in an accounting firm

2. Minimum of Advanced Diploma of Accounting or other professional education approved by ABC Accounts.

3. Display a professional and courteous manner in representing the organisations core value of excellence in customer service.

4. Ability to remain calm under pressure and effectively manage multiple tasks and deadlines.

5. Experience in compiling letters, memorandum and reports, making appointments and dealing with sensitive organisational issues with confidentiality and discretion.

6. Able to demonstrate a high level of experience and literacy in computer software applications such as Microsoft Office and computerised accounting software.

7. Able to work within the policies and procedures of ABC Accounts.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY STATEMENT

Assist the ORGANISATION to create a safe and healthy working environment by working safely, using equipment provided and following instructions given for health and safety purposes and immediately reporting any unsafe working practices or hazardous working conditions.

I certify that I have read this Position Description have the core skills to carry out these duties contained herein and have had any questions or concerned answered to my satisfaction.

EMPLOYEE SIGNATURE: _______________________________
DATE: ______________________________

EMPLOYER SIGNATURE: _______________________________
DATE: ______________________________

Philip (Phil) Lye is Managing Director of Biz Momentum providing professional services in human resource management and employee relations (HR / IR Matters), training your people to work with you, 'coaching you' to be a better executive and commercial business consultation.

Phil is a 'keynote-speaker' who speaks with passion on subjects like 'kindness and the bottom line', 'last one standing', 'down and outers and up and outers', 'more from less on your bottom line' as well as a diverse range of other topics.

Phil started his working career as the 'postage clerk' in banking and finance rising through various business opportunities to CEO and CFO of two companies before leaving to start his own business in 2002.

Phil holds qualifications in Accounting, Leadership, Human Resource Management & Industrial Relations.

For more information and assistance http://www.biz-momentum.com


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