Do your employees know what is expected of them?

Job description/ profile writing



We often come across employers who have not issued their employees with job descriptions and or job/role profiles.


There seems to be much confusion around these two concepts and what the differences are between the two, so let me clarify this for you.


A job description is a summary of the job. It includes the resources required to perform the job, the reporting structures, responsibilities and the activities the employee will perform to carry out their tasks. Whereas a Job Profile elaborates on the job parameters and includes the purpose of the role (the WHY), defines WHAT needs to be done, and includes the Key Performance Areas (KPA’s) and the specific outcomes/deliverables required (the HOW) rather than the activities the employees need to carry out to achieve the outcome.


The Job Profile defines the standard required for each deliverable.Describing HOW the deliverable would be actioned if it were completed at a competent level. The key focus here is to ensure that the end-state is achieved against the required standard rather than focusing only on the activity to be completed.


What’s the benefit of developing effective Job profiles?


Job profiles lay the foundation from which most of your activities are structured. They assist with the process of workforce planning, compiling a Job specification, interview questionnaires, determining pay levels, tailoring benefit packages, and assessing performance.


They are instrumental in career development, goal setting, resolving disputes around performance and prove to be a legally defensible document in which the inherent requirements for the job are stipulated.


Employers often overlook the importance of developing these documents to the detriment of developing their humans, cultivating a more engaged workforce, managing their employees’ performance and growing their organisations.


It is not uncommon to find that organisations don’t have comprehensive job profiles and do include only a brief summary of the job description and listing activities, in their employment contracts in compliance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.


You may find yourself in a situation where your employee has not executed the tasks at your required standard. Based on this, you conclude that the individual is incompetent.


However, you have failed to specify the areas of responsibility in writing and reached a mutual agreement on their deliverables, and benchmarked the expected standard (evidence of competence) in a Job profile.  


If you choose not to prioritize developing job profiles, don’t be surprised when your employees are disengaged and uncooperative and you find yourself wanting to issue the employee with their First warning because they are not proving a profitable resource because they failed to achieve the performance targets you have set for them in your head.


The first question you may be posed with if challenged at a disciplinary inquiry is “Did the employee know what was expected of them?” followed by “Can you substantiate your claim with evidence?”


Avoid dealing with frustrated employees who don’t know what is expected of them, they have nothing to measure their standard of performance against in order to gain recognition and feel motivated to perform at their peak. Don’t leave your employees running around like headless chickens, give them direction, show them that they are valuable and that their contributions matter.


We appreciate that business is constantly evolving and that roles and responsibilities need to adapt to these changes, demanding an evaluation of your roles and reviewing your job profiles.


Always consider the bigger picture and what culture you are wanting to cultivate in your business.


Take a pro-active approach and lay the first building block in order to successfully structure your business activities and review these, ideally, on an annual basis or as operational requirements demand.


We partner with small and medium businesses to develop job profiles.


Natalie Leach- Independent HR Consultant