Once you have taken the time to define the basic components of each job the next phase is to establish the relative priority of each task to the total job. A Job Description (JD) has a number of parts but it essentially describes the tasks (what you do) and the behaviors (how you do it). Once you have added the relative priority of each task to the other components and when this information is laid out clearly, it provides guidance to the employee about the standards and expectations of the firm in performing that job.
Each task should be given a priority. Some tasks are more important than others, although each task is relevant and that is why they are listed. You should establish a specific priority for each task listed as an “A” or a “B” or a “C”. Each task has a different level of importance within the job.
- “A” tasks or behaviors are those that are critical to your job. They are the core of what you do and are vital to your success in the end. These are the essence of what you do and what defines the essential elements of what our customers expect.
- “B” tasks or behaviors are those that are important to be accomplished. These are the foundations of the job and should be able to be accomplished with proficiency by everyone who is performing the job. Your expertise and know-how form the basic elements of the job and are defined here.
- “C” tasks or behaviors are necessary to the person properly functioning within the firm. These tasks and behaviors are legally required to be included in the overall job description and they form the general underpinning for reasonable standards in the firm. For example adherence to the rules and regulations established in the employee handbook or manual might be a “C” task. We should not be repeating every section of the handbook in the job description although each person is expected to have read, understood, and follow what is included in that handbook. By writing this into the job description you clarify with certainty an employee’s obligations to the firm as a whole. There may be several parts of the handbook that should be emphasized and they might be repeated for emphasis in this section as well.
- It is possible for some tasks to be given a level “D” or “E”, but too much segmentation usually causes confusion. For example a job description may have a number of tasks that would only be done by those working the job at night. Perhaps in that case a “D” task would help to clarify what should be done in the day and what should be done at night.
- It is recommended that tasks be divided only into 2 or 3 levels of priority in most circumstances for simplicity and clarity of direction.
The establishment of these priorities is significant to the proper functioning of the other parts of a well constructed human resource system. The Job Description should be used by the applicant to understand what the job entails before they join the firm. Priorities will help to focus the selection process on whether that person has the right skills and behaviors to successfully accomplish the overall job. The Learning Checklist (LCL) uses these priorities to identify what should be taught first and what should be explained second during the initial training that occurs. This assists the new hire in quickly assimilating information and getting them up to speed. The Performance Development Plan (PDP) is used to provide a useful discussion and evaluation on a person’s past performance and future development plans. In this case the focus on the “A” priorities during the PDP discussions helps to keep the focal point on the critical needs that must be accomplished in the future without creating an overly lengthy meeting talking about the obvious. Priorities help to concentrate the time spent in the meeting on what makes a difference in the end to our customers and improves both the efficiency and effectiveness of the performance discussion.