What Role Should Job Descriptions Play In Employee Objective Setting?

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Some managers feel that job descriptions "should" be enough to help guide employees. Or that you can rely on job descriptions to set specific goals and objectives. Generally both of these conclusions are wrong.

Typically, a job description is general in nature and applies to a POSITION, rather than the person or people occupying that position. Even if you have ten people in the same job, each person may have different skills and abilities, and you may want them doing somewhat different things, even though their job descriptions are identical. It would be foolish to pretend that each person is the same.

It makes much more sense to set employee goals and objectives on an individual employee basis. So, even if two people have the same job description, everyone benefits if employee strengths and weaknesses are considered in goal setting. If you rely only on the job description you lose that ability.

Also, job descriptions aren't specific enough. They describe general activities, not specific results we want. Consider also that job descriptions, once written, are not revised regularly and are frequently outdated. Do you want an employee working to achieve things described in outdated job descriptions? Of course not.

So, you can use job descriptions (if they are current), as a starting point for setting annual employee goals and objectives, but you can't use job descriptions in place of setting goals and objectives.

See Also: Performance Planning For Managers


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