I am constantly amazed by the number of companies who feel it’s to their advantage to NOT have WRITTEN job descriptions or key initiatives for employees. These type companies usually, and with little hesitation, make some proclamation about how they don’t “DO” job descriptions because “everyone pitches in” or because they don’t want their employees to view their role as a checklist or risk hearing “that’s not my job.” Quite honestly, when speaking to an executive with this sort of mentality, no matter how profound the thing they said right before or right after is, it doesn’t matter; I’m let down. I can literally feel the air in my balloon begin to seep out and deflate right then and there.
In employee roles, I have been on the receiving end of no job description. In management roles, I have before been advised against giving direct reports key initiatives. As I have grown in experience and confidence, I too can say with little hesitation, I would not accept a job from a company who didn’t clearly define job roles and expectations and I certainly would not lead a team without offering them. Why? Because I need to know what winning looks like to my company and my team needs to know what winning looks like to me. I want to know where I stand, what to feel proud of, what to improve on and I want to offer that same transparency to my staff. Otherwise, it’s like the company has taken us all out bowling and shut off the lights. And no, I’m not referring to the fun cosmic style; we’re talking lights out, pitch dark, someone forgot to pay the electric bill.
Without clarity and without painting the picture of what winning looks like, you can never truly measure performance. It’s a total disservice to your employees and an overall health risk to your company. Why? Because celebrating victories and dealing with defeat end up looking the same. Things either got done or didn’t but determining the WHO WHAT WHY WHEN HOW gets lost in the fog. When victories get lost in the fog and the “job well done” goes unrecognized, expect morale to drop. When defeats gets lost in the fog and failure points can’t be identified, expect them to continue.
Job Descriptions, Job Responsibilities, Key Performance Initiatives, Key Result Areas. There are many different names. Their context and amount of detail may vary but their importance never will. Not so long as companies want to be healthy and they rely on their people to keep them there.