The WIIFM of Position Descriptions

We hear you – position descriptions are not the most exciting part of HR! They are however a hygiene factor that is regularly overlooked by organisations.

We’ve been working with a number of clients recently, on the design and implementation of new Position Descriptions., We’ve had some great conversations around why they need current and integrated Position Descriptions in their businesses ie, what’s in It for me (or WIIFM).

Let’s explore further …

The answer to this really depends on the size of your business and where you are in your business life cycle. For some of our small-to-medium sized clients, this work has centred around the creation of appropriately robust people systems and procedures for the business. For larger businesses, the redefinition of position descriptions can be used to align with broader business or people strategies, or as part of a broader piece of change management in organisational redesign. Either way, the position description enables both leader and employee to have clarity on what’s expected of an employee in the performance of their role.

Taking it a step further, a strong position description can then be used as the foundation tool for some of the core fundamentals of sustainability for a business:

  • Recruitment of the right people into the right role – have the right position description in place, you can attract the best people for your business into the right role. You can also then use the position description to guide you on your recruitment techniques and approach – is it just a behavioural interview? A role play? Psychometric testing? Or experiential assessment?
  • Goal setting – whilst we’re not advocates for the annual performance cycle of ‘set and forget’ performance goals, we do encourage our clients to set goals for their people which reflect the expectations of their performance description, yet also enables an employee to understand what going ‘above and beyond’ would look like. A position description is the groundwork for this goal setting process, which should then be reviewed in regular conversations throughout the year on performance and development. Speaking of development …
  • Development planning – being clear on your employee’s current performance level, their strengths and their gaps against their position description, as well as their future aspirations, is the basis to the development of a Professional Development Plan for your people. This is a key engagement tool that should not be undervalued, even if your learning and development budget is slim-to-none!
  • Succession planning – when building your position description library, you need to future proof the details of the position. This means that you can have clear career paths for your people, through the alignment of position descriptions and clarity as to how someone can move from one role to another (especially in vertical progression in an organisation). Every key leader or key role needs to have a second in charge that can step in if required – make sure this is captured in your position descriptions, wherever possible.
  • Creation of culture – your position descriptions should be an extension of where you want your business to go – no matter your size. The ‘culture’ buzzword is critical to your success and by linking your position descriptions to your desired culture, this is another way to reinforce the people practices and behaviours you are seeking. This might be to the effect of encouraging continuous improvement, people showing initiative in their work, breaking down silos across the business, focusing on customer-centric behaviours, or being engaged in their own development and understanding of your industry etc etc etc.

There are numerous reasons to have position descriptions in your business – hopefully the above gives you a taste of just some of these. In coming blogs, we’ll be getting into the next level of detail – the ‘what’ of the position description.

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