Are Job Descriptions Really Necessary?

When you get down to the hard facts, are job descriptions really necessary? Honestly, I don’t know. We got along for several years with a strong performance management process that helps employees to define their responsibilities and what they are rated on.

In the age of “I can sue anyone for anything at any time,” companies are pressed to have job descriptions in place with employee signatures on them. I’d be curious to hear from the audience if you think they are a valuable tool or a necessary evil.

Or maybe there’s a third option. Is there a better way to communicate work standards than a piece of paper with a signature on it? What would it look like?

And while you’re thinking on it, feel free to check out the funny comic below. :-)

15 thoughts on “Are Job Descriptions Really Necessary?

  1. Tom

    Haha, great comic! I think the ‘what’s expected’ part in job descriptions can really be left out. The only thing that is really necessary is a description of the position and the duties.

  2. Hutto

    I. hate. job. descriptions. The End! Every jd that comes across my desk always has that faithful “all other duties as assigned” clause, so whats the point really? For my office staff their job desciption could change almost daily- the core functions remain the same “RECRUIT. RECRUIT. and RECRUIT.”

  3. Mel

    In an age when everyone in the team is seeking variety, professional development, sideways movement, teamwork, and solving the customer problems whether its ‘your job’ or someone elses, traditional job descriptions run the risk of creating theoretical limits where in reality none may exist. Perhaps a linear chart with each function of the business represented along a line with brief to the point descriptions of key duties within each function, but importantly having the actual JDs (if you want to call them that) overlapping each other would be a nice start to a new contextual framework. Then you could overlay the values of the organisation directly underneath the line (between the business functions and everyone’s job) to show that those are universal. This way also everyone could be given this document so that they would understand what everyone else does. Any takers on improving this idea or suggesting others? Am in the process of drawing up HR practices for a high tech startup – interesting times :-)

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