The Lasting Power of a Position Description – Three parts you should add to yours!

By Maria Forbes
August 26, 2015

A simple thing like a job or position description seems like a no brainer in hiring and selection. We are told by many newly hired professionals that their job description is a thorough list of responsibilities for the role. What happens to that list of responsibilities once a person is hired – do you revisit the list during performance reviews? Maybe you do, but if your descriptions do not include all three parts of the mind, you are missing a critical business growth advantage.
A list or outline of job responsibilities seems like the right tool at the point of hiring; you provide candidates with a view of the priorities for the open position, and you get a look at candidate’s education, relative industry skills, and career experiences to determine whether there is a match. After assessing cultural and motivational fit, the work is done. The part you may be missing is the game changer.
There is more value to describe than a list of responsibilities, and this value goes far beyond hiring. Most of our clients confess that job descriptions or initial position descriptions are utilized during the hiring process and then filed. Later, at the point of team development challenges, we must re-create this important document in order to provide a past and present perspective and future expectations for a role. The time we spend re-creating descriptions can be eliminated if this is done at hiring. Additionally, owners and managers can avoid the frustration of creating performance review data that is not in alignment with a specified path to success in a role.
What does a list of responsibilities, and the percentage of time associated, express to the person who is fulfilling the role? It tells them you will be interested in the achievement of the priorities listed within the given timeframes. While this is important, you may find a new team member focuses their efforts on exactly what is described, as a measure of success. Instead of describing a new position as a container of important things to get done, think of every position as a role in the bigger picture, not a single isolated part, rather an integral part of the evolving whole of your organization. Successful contributors require a visible pathway to achieving shared growth goals and the opportunity to engage their talents as they put knowledge and skills to work. Think of a role as evolving, and the description as a guide to success. Now what would you tell the new person?
Consider this three part Role Description to power your team and your business, long term.
1 – An illustration or summary of the role in the current state, and how it will look at full capacity, when the person is making a unique contribution to company growth. We utilize mind mapping software to illustrate the current state and the evolution of the role in various stages, to its full development. The illustration is a visual and includes a corresponding outline format.
2 – Include your shared business vision and your Role Description as owner, partner, or key decision maker of the company. If a new team member understands you priorities, how you spend your time and your expectations for working with your teams, they will be able to navigate all phases of their evolving contribution to organizational growth.
3 – Address all three parts of the mind.

  • Cognitive Achievements: what knowledge is important to accurately perform the role?
  • Affective Preferences: what relational styles will benefit this role?
  • Conative Strengths: what problem solving method is required to successfully execute the role?

Using the power of this three part format, you will have a Role Description document that works well beyond hiring. The three parts form an evolving guide to connect personal strengths and priorities to the big picture, so everyone can engage their best effort, and make a lasting contribution to company sustainability and growth.
For more information and to create your vision for success, contact us at FIREWPOWER Teams!

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