Integrate — Job Descriptions Make a Difference
For many years I have witnessed leadership at a variety of levels at several companies struggle to see the value of certain HR practices. One practice of uncertain value from them within HR that always seems to pop up is Job Descriptions.
Why do you need job descriptions? Do companies really use them? We created some 5 years ago, will they work? Are they just an old school personnel requirement? Well, you actually need them for a variety of reasons, such as to:
- Reiterate your Mission, Vision and Values (MVVs)
- Align employees to shared goals
- Use as an effective hiring tool
- Reinforce what is required from your employees and why
Reiteration of your Mission Vision and Values
Job descriptions should remind employees what the overall objective is for their position. Why? Because that objective should tie in to whatever the Mission and Vision of the company are. Absent a clear objective statement, both new and current employees won’t understand why it is they do what they are asked to do. That might sound a little crazy, but I have met hundreds of employees over the years who, when asked why they do what they do at work, they had no answer. I do know that when employees know the objective and why they exist in their roles, they are self-driven to exceed that objective.
We are not becoming lazy as a nation; we are coming unguided!
It is the greatest fallacy of the workplace that we have become merely lazy, when, in fact, it all stems from lack of leadership and experience in guiding employees to excellence.
Employees should be involved in the development of their job descriptions. They should gain ownership in the process and fully understand how their position relates to others within the company, and how each position depends on the other for performance. Of course, HR can champion the process, providing the process and keeping track of the descriptions themselves.
The creation of the description should be done by the employee and employee’s manager.
One of the best-run companies I have had the pleasure to work with linked all the descriptions for each of their positions on a shared Local Area Network while also visually linking all employees together via an electronic organizational chart. It left no one wondering who was responsible for doing what, while reporting to whom, and why?
A hiring tool
A candidate should never be interviewed without a formal job description in hand. There is no way to assess a candidate fairly without this basic tool. High-performing companies have recruitment processes that included the revision of the job description while, at the same time, the development of relevant questions for the interview process itself. Want to inspire interest in a candidate? Give them the job description, because almost no organizations do this. When people know what it is they are required to do, it creates interest and potential ownership once they are hired.
Reinforcement of what is required and why
Repetition is a good thing. When job descriptions repeat important information that is reflected in other areas of the company, it reinforces the importance of that information.
When employees see the same messages over and over from a variety of sources, and tied to several processes, it means something to them. It leaves an imprint.
This is why building in language that reiterates the commitment to living up to your Company’s Mission and striving for your Vision will help get your employees going in the right direction collectively. It is also important to capture in the job description the behaviors that are required and that relate to the Values of your organization.
Essential to all job descriptions are the Purpose of the Position, Position Requirements (Education and or Experience), and Physical Requirements/Environmental Conditions. Of course you should always include the statement: “This description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities required of an incumbent. An incumbent may be asked to perform other duties as required.” This statement ensures that you don’t have folks walking around saying, “That’s not in my job description!”
What good and bad experiences have you had in dealing with job descriptions? Are they a waste of time from your perspective or have you witnessed employees flourish when using them? Please leave us your comments below. Thank you.
Integrate — Performance Reviews for Success
Probably one of the least liked HR processes of all organizations is the dreaded performance review. However, it does not have to be that way. Performance reviews should be beneficial not only to the organization but to the employee.
Key components to a successful process include:
- Built-in commitment to your MVV
- Shared goals and objectives throughout the organization
- Employee ownership of career and job performance
- Simplistic but meaningful processes
- Solid guidelines and commitment from senior leadership.
Commitment to your MVV
If you want your Team to fulfill your Company’s Mission reach your Vision and operate within your Values, you must build these into the Performance Review process. When you do, it shows the organization that leadership believes in the MVV so much that they have included it in the measurement of employment performance. Ensure your goals and objectives are aligned with your Missionand Vision; if they are not, you must question why they are in place. Most organizations that we support appreciate us walking them through a simple Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis to help develop goals for the organization. In the area of Values, always build your values and other important values into the behavior section of the Performance review form; we will discuss behaviors in more detail later in this chapter.
Shared goals and objectives
In high performing organizations, including those that I have worked for, have all had Performance Review processes that were aligned to shared goals and objectives through the organization. Typically the scenario worked like this: The CEO would develop four to six goals and objectives that would then be approved or renegotiated by the board of directors. Those goals would then cascade through the organization all the way down to, for example, the third-shift sanitation employee at the plant in Arkansas. The employees would then align what they needed to accomplish within their scope of authority against the goals of the person(s) above them.
The review process primarily focuses on annual goals, and very little on the mundane aspects of day to day work that is reflective of what the job description dictates. The daily work should be accomplished, and, if not, the employee should be managed through disciplinary procedures.
I have had the experience of employees approaching me earlier in my career at the end of the performance review cycle. Oftentimes, their approach was because they never had met with their managers even one time during the course of the performance cycle.
Make no mistake: they are at fault as much as their inept management.
Employees must take ownership of their careers, their development and their performance. Those who do not simply will not survive in this economy. Part of ensuring that they take ownership, and helping them to understand it, is ensuring that the process is clearly defined, i.e., that the employee is obliged to prepare performance form materials, and be proactive in scheduling a performance review meeting with their manager if the manager is not. If the manager still fails to meet with them, the employee has an obligation to go to HR or, absent HR, the manager’s superior. Doing nothing should never be an option.
Simplistic but meaningful processes
Twelve-page forms and manuals that exceed sixty pages will just not work. Ensure your process includes easily understood documentation, and a review form that does not exceed a good resume length, that is, two pages. Keep the form limited to four to six operational goals and three to five behavior-based goals.
Never have a process that is void of behavioral objectives.
I have had the misfortune to work with several teams that insisted upon only production-related goals. They killed each other in the process to achieve them, and, when challenged, they would always say that they were not being measured on niceness, but solely on how many widgets they made! Balance your performance scorecard, and you will have better results.
Solid guidelines and commitment from senior leadership
When we describe “solid” guidelines, we mean guidelines that are not created in a vacuum, by one person high on a mountaintop. Guidelines should be developed by a cross-functional group of employees from a variety of areas within the company. This brings a rich blend of thoughts and experiences to the table.
Regrettably, most of the HR people that I have worked with during my career are just not capable of coming up with such solid guidelines without assistance.
It is a sad statement to make regarding my profession, but I gave up defending much of the deficiencies I discovered years ago.
Senior Leadership must buy into the process and support it. If they don’t, it is doomed to certain failure.
Years ago, I worked for a company in which, no matter how hard the CEO worked on convincing the president of a particular division to manage the performance review process, this president would balk. The division president’s lack of commitment transcended the organization. The process became a joke, and no one nurtured it. I look back at the company now and wonder if things could have turned out differently. They have closed half of their plants, and shed several thousand employees. It might be a stretch to link this to lack of leadership in embracing a performance review process, but I do believe that, if Innovation was a top goal for the years heading into the downturn, that company could conceivably have created new products to sustain employment for those who were laid off. Sad, but this is often the case. Managers: stay committed!
What has been your experience with performance review systems? Do you like them? Hate them? We would like to know. Please leave us a few comments to broaden our knowledge. Thank you.
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of managing organizations is the act of recruitment. It is not necessarily difficult only on the candidates; it’s also difficult on organizations as well. Even though we are living in tumultuous business times, with real unemployment exceeding 10 percent in almost every city in our nation, recruitment is still a challenge for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Lack of skilled candidates
- Wounded and hurt applicants lacking trust of any organization
- Having too many candidates to choose from makes it difficult to know where to begin
- Salary expectation alignment; many candidates are accustomed to more
These are all hurdles to climb over but organizations that have a well thought out process and strategy will prevail in hiring the best candidates to accelerate the performance of the organization. The entire process of building a “Kingdom Minded” company revolves around including your Mission Vision and Values into every HR practice as practicable. The recruitment process is not excluded.
In developing your strategy, you should weave into the process several concepts that will help recruit the best candidates to help you manage within your Mission, reach your Vision, and operate within your Values. Your process should include:
- Networking your vacancies to trusted sources
- Using employee referral systems to increase your candidate pool
- Use consistent hiring methodology when recruiting candidates
- Always include your MVV in the recruitment process
Networking. Most companies, because of turnover within their HR department, or a lack of HR professionals within the company, do not have a formalized network to which they can announce vacancies. This is a concerning drawback to the process. Organizations should consistently mine for talent and the community should be aware of the organization and have a general idea of what they do and what their hiring patterns are. Organizations should spend time marketing themselves as a great place to work; this is also and effective form of marketing to potential customers. People want to buy products and services from organizations that treat their employees well. Start networking with churches, Christian colleges, LinkedIn groups, alumni associations, nonprofit executives, mission organizations, seminaries — the list could go on forever! The problem is that many organizations do not create such a network list. Network today; it will pay dividends in years to come.
Employee Referral Systems Nine out of ten companies I meet with do not have either a formal or informal employee referral systems for candidates. If they do have one, it is stale and not yielding any results. This is unfortunate, because people want to work with people who match the company culture, and know how and want to get the job done. Reinvent this program or develop it if you don’t have one. The easiest way to do so is to bring together a cross section of employees for half an hour and ask them straight out: would you refer your friends to work here? If not, why not? And what do we need to do to make this an environment that you would want to refer them to? Delve into what the referral reward should be in the program. Some miserly HR folks suggest one to two hundred-dollar bonuses. Considering a Monster board ad is three hundred dollars, not to mention the hassle of screening 10 to 20 candidates to get to one good candidate, don’t you think this is a bit stingy? Reward your people!
Consistent Hiring Methodology Lack of a consistent hiring methodology will get you burned. Getting an EEOC or Human Relations commission charge becomes not an “if” proposition but a “when.” But, stepping outside of the legal concerns, why not take the high road right off, and ensure your practice is beyond reproach? When recruiting, always have a job description, always have interview evaluation sheets, and always have decent but not copious notes of the candidate selection meeting when all interviewers give input. I have experienced some embarrassing situations at all levels of the organization where a document to support hiring or not hiring candidates didn’t even exist. If you don’t have this in place, make sure you keep your checkbook handy. You will need it.
And, finally, include your MVV in your process. You see, when candidates see this, they are intrigued, especially when the presenter presents it in a way that is exciting.
Candidates love to see people with passion and energy around their Mission.
Organizations have lost their mojo. Show candidates your passion! Most people want to work for a company that has direction. They are tired of the lack of leadership in government, in corporate America, and their local schools. The last thing they want to do is join a company that is weak and non-directional. Show them your passion through your MVV!
Explain to each candidate your Values, where they came from and why you have them. Let them know that you are a company founded on Christian principles. Most often the reaction I get from candidates when they hear this is, “Wow! Finally a place that might treat me with dignity and respect.”
Don’t worry about offending anyone. You are not pushing your values onto them; you are simply demonstrating what they are. I have had candidates say that they are not Christians, but that working for a company like ours would help them understand Christianity better. Exposing people to Christ — that is what we all desire.. That is the work God really wants us to focus on.
What have been your experiences in recruitment? Are there any best practices you would like to share? Be a difference maker today. Please contribute to the community and help others learn from your experiences. Thank you.
Employees complain when you don’t have a handbook, but, when you have one, they don’t want it! An employee handbook is very easy to create, but probably the most overlooked aspect of employment documentation. One thing is for sure: if a company has multiple shifts or multiple locations or just multiple employees, an employee handbook can certainly help keep all employees on the same page. Handbooks are always a delicate subject.
But when done right, and with employee input, this tool can make a difference.
- Make it reflect your Mission Vision and Values (MVV)
- Make it relevant
- Keep it simple
- Keep it legal and legit
Reflect your MVV. Your handbook should be an absolute reflection of your MVV, which essentially amplifies your culture. Someone who is unfamiliar with your organization should be able to pick up your handbook and see your heart within its reflection simply by the tone and the guiding principles you lay out for your employees. The front of the handbook should contain your MVV, followed by the President’s message as to why the MVV is important to the company and how it was created.
Make it relevant. Having reviewed hundreds of handbooks over the years, one thing is certain and that is that most are horrible. They are irrelevant, often don’t convey the culture of the organization and are more about preaching or dictating than guiding.
Keep it simple. A handbook should not contain every scrap of information about the company. Worse yet, it should not contain every possible scenario in which an employee violation could occur. Keep it simple and you will have a greater impact than if you over-complicate or over-stimulate the reader. Many employees I’ve spoken with over the years tell me that, if a handbook is interesting, they will read it to learn more about the company, but, if it just rambles on over policy and procedures, most will put it down after two pages. The ideal handbook will inspire the reader to learn — learn more about the company.
Keep it legal and legit. Always ensure you include the appropriate legal clauses. There are far too many to list here but a few that come to mind speak toADA, FMLA, Employment at Will, EEOC etc. You want to make sure you cover your bases.
In closing it is important to note that having a handbook is oftentimes the only opportunity for employers to memorialize what is expected of employees. But always include what employees can expect of you! A handbook should never be a one way street of core policies of the organization; if it is, you will chill the warmth right out of the organization, a chill you will live to regret.
We Value Your Comments. Thank you for taking the time to read our post in this series on how to build “Kingdom Minded” Companies. Please share your thoughts and experiences on employee handbooks. How did the ones that you have used fit your organization? Did they match your culture? Did they drive the behaviors the company and employees desire? Thank you for contributing to our community, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Integrate-After the Mission Vision and Values …
Most leaders, after they finalize the recreation of their Mission Vision and Values (MVV) for their organizations, do what comes naturally — they share it with everyone. If that sounds like you, then it goes out on your website, and it gets printed poster-sized and hung on the walls of your conference rooms and lobby. You mention it consistently for about three months … and then it dies.
It dies because it is not an intrinsic part of the way you do business.
It is not ingrained into the soul of your company.
How do you make your Mission Vision and Values a part of the way in which you do business? You integrate it into the practices that are always connected to the people that make it happen — you integrate it into the people who are applying your HR practices. HR practices are practices that touch all employees.
What are some examples of HR practices?
- Employee Relations
- Recruitment Management
- Workforce Planning
- On Boarding Management
- Training Management
- Performance Management
- Compensation & Benefits
- Attendance and Leave Management
- Compensation and Benefits Management
- Employee Development Skill Management
- Health & Safety
- Employee Activities
- Employment Policy Management
You could probably laundry-list 40-plus practices, but, for the sake of explanation, we are going to provide guidance on six key practices that you can integrate with your MVV quite easily. These six are your:
- Recruitment Process
- Performance Review Process
- Job Descriptions
- Communication Process
- Training and Development
Over the next few weeks, I will walk us through the integration of the MVV into each one of these practices. What has your experience been when integrating these concepts into your company’s practices? Share with us below. We would appreciate hearing your thoughts and stories.
High-performing organizations have a clearly defined Vision. This Vision helps guide all its employees and supervision to their desired destination and explains why. Companies who have a Vision have a workplace of direction, purpose and achievement. These companies have a Vision of where they want to be, and do the appropriate things to get there. All along the way, they have employees who are enthusiastically a part of it, eagerly supporting the Vision.
What Is an Organizational Vision?
A Vision that is optimal is one that has been created, or at least contributed to, by all employees of the organization. Like the Mission, the more buy-in the organization has, the greater the effectiveness of the Vision. The Vision should be inspiring! It is where you want to be! The Vision is what you seeing occurring as you deliver on your Mission. It is where you want your organization to be in five years. We define it as five years but you may prefer to extend that, or, if you are a start-up, you may want to start with a three-year Vision. We prefer five years, because that is a reasonable amount of time for most companies to get to the next step. The Vision must be realistically achievable. If you own a pizza shop, it would not be wise to say your Vision is to grow to a $2 billion-dollar market value. But, an achievable Vision might look like: “We will grow to be a regional choice by consumers by expanding to 10 locations.”
Reflect on the following questions as considerations for building your Vision:
1. How are the market and customer base changing in the next three to seven years?
2. How will that create opportunities for the organization?
3. How can we meet the gap between now and our Vision?
4. How will we surpass our competitors and seek greater market share?
5. What are we doing collectively to capitalize on the changes in business conditions and needs of the business?
Amazon “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Nike “To be the number one athletic company in the world.”
What is the difference between Mission and Vision?
The most asked question to us surrounding Mission, Vision and Core Values is: what is the difference between a Mission and a Vision? Your Mission is what you do best every day. Your Vision is what the future looks like when you deliver on your Mission so exceedingly well.
There is, unquestionably, a key to high-performing organizations. That key is Vision — a Vision that ignites the employees of these organizations to achieve great things!
When I worked with the Gatorade Division of Quaker Oats, we smoked the competition. Why? We had Vision. And every employee who worked there bought into that Vision. Powerade and All Sport didn’t have a chance. In fact, where is All Sport today? If Gatorade did not take them out completely, they certainly limited their capabilities!
The problem is not with workers in the U.S. What we have today is a problem with leadership — leadership that lacks the ability to create buy-in for excellence in Vision achievement.
If you are a leader, you must develop a Vision, and develop it with employee input. If you are an employee, make sure you buy into your organization’s Vision. If it needs tweaking, ask to do so with respect. Your leadership will appreciate your interest!
Let’s all work together with our organizations to create Vision, to create a hope and future for everyone.
We Value your Comments. Please share your thoughts on having an Organizational Vision. How do they fit into your workplace? Do you have a Vision where you work right now? Have you worked at a high-performing organization that did?
Oftentimes as I meet with people to talk about bettering their HR practices, I use the term “Kingdom Minded” company.” More often than not, they are intrigued by the terminology I use in reference to helping them build their companies. Many Christian business people, pastors and Christian business consultants may have their own opinions or definitions of what a “Kingdom Minded” company is.
I have developed what I believe to be a fairly clear, actionable and measurable way to articulate what a “Kingdom Minded” company is, thus exciting business owners to invest their time, dollars and energy into making their company prosperous and reflective of Christ. So, let me begin by outlining what comprises the framework when building a “Kingdom Minded” company.
Over the next few weeks, I will walk us through a more in-depth look at each piece of the framework. I will ask you to look internally at what you believeyour “Kingdom Minded Purpose” is for your company. In building a “Kingdom Minded” company, the model I have developed contains the following ingredients, listed in order of importance.
These same principles that apply to marketplace businesses do apply to non profit organizations as well.
A “Kingdom Minded” company:
- Puts Christ First
- Has a Clear Mission
- Has a Clear Vision
- Has Core Values
Has agreed upon Goals and Objectives, especially in:
- Customer Service
And finally, Strives for Prosperity jointly for the good of its owners, employees and company’s community.
If you want to enjoy prosperity, you must look inward and address these critical aspects of running your organization.
Having spent over 20 years in HR I can tell you companies that have a well developed and bought-in Mission, Vision and Values will far exceed those who do not. Take a look inside your own organization. Do you have a Mission? A Vision? Core Values? How are you with setting or receiving expectations through organization goals and objectives? Do you collectively work together as a Team for success and prosperity?
Mark had the honor of being interviewed by RevFM State College PA on May 7, 2011 during the weekly Centre topic show. With over 20 years of Human Resources experience at both fortune (Kodak, Quaker Oats, and Merck Pharma) as well as small and mid sized companies, Mark has seen it all. Please take the time and enjoy Mark’s Podcast interview on how you might best build “Kingdom Minded” organizations in today’s “politically correct” business world. Let Mark inspire you to be bold and brave in your faith, by ensuring Christ is in your workplace.
RevFM Broadcasts on the following frequencies:
- 89.1 FM – State College/Altoona/Huntingdon/Philipsburg
- 99.9 FM – Clearfield/DuBois
- 102.7 FM – Altoona/Hollidaysburg