Positive People Practices  This is the first in a series of blogs on various tools that you can use to assist in leading and managing people and practical ways in which you can use them. First cab off the rank is the Position Description. https://youtu.be/qWJdKzF6usg #1: Positive PDs with 6 purposes The Position Description (PD) has been around for decades and can be found in lots of different forms if you have a look around. Have you ever asked yourself: “Why do we have PDs? What is the point of them?” That is a very good question and it can elicit a lot of different answers. The reality (something that very few businesses understand, let alone appreciate) is that the PD is arguably the most powerful multi-functional tool in your people management toolkit if it is properly structured and used. So what can you do with PDs? Here are the 6 powerful purposes:

  1. Compliance satisfaction: every employer has statutory obligations under workplace health and safety legislation to provide employees with proper instruction, supervision and training in their duties. A properly constructed PD (supported by functional communication processes) provides documentary evidence of compliance.
  2. Recruitment effectiveness: when you are looking for a new employee, you want to get the optimal return on the investment in the recruitment and selection process. This starts with giving candidates a clear understanding of the role. Added to that, you want to have a clear understanding of the attributes that you are looking for so as to gear the campaign accordingly. A well-rounded PD does this and provides the foundation for designing the selection process to thoroughly explore the required and desired attributes for the role and make an informed and evidence-based selection decision.
  3. Targeted development: understanding the skills and attributes required to be successful in a role is key to targeting training and development activity starting with onboarding and progressing right through the employment lifecycle. This is an important component of a PD that helps in the making of effective learning and development plans and activities as well as in succession planning.
  4. Structured performance management: the starting point for any performance plan should be a review of the employee’s performance against the functions performed and the outcomes expected in a role. This is central to having a proper evidence-based performance management process that is both substantively and procedurally fair (legally and in practice). It also enables balanced feedback for positive conversations about strengths and achievements as well as improvement opportunities. The detail on functions and outcomes in PDs is an essential ingredient for achieving these outcomes.
  5. Relationship optimisation: in any role, there are relationships that are important to the success of the incumbent – people who this person relies on for certain things and others who rely on this person for specific things. These can be managers or peers or subordinates or others in process chains. The better that those relationships work, the more effective (and happier) people individually and collectively will be. PDs that identify key relationships and performance outcomes provide a great basis for managing those relationships through shared understanding of and commitment to the partnerships and interdependencies involved.
  6. Better employee engagement: study after study tells us that some of the key factors in employee engagement are that people have meaning and purpose in their work and that they have clarity about their role and performance expectations. PDs structured in the right way and actively used as the multi-functional tool that they can be (as per 1-5 above) clearly support those critical engagement factors

So there is the business case – now what? What should the PD include? Before we get to the contents, let’s talk about language. If you want to have positive conversations with people, use positive language that supports emotional connection of the employee with the organisation and its goals and engagement of the employee with the role that they are employed in. Next let’s consider strategic alignment and there is a very simple and proven formula for enabling this and that is Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Approach.

  • Why?     State the purpose and the performance outcomes required of the role
  • How?     What are the enablers of good performance – qualifications required, skills and attributes needed, key relationships, etc
  • What?   A list of the duties that the incumbent performs

Tips for developing the PD  Step 1: Draw up a table or spreadsheet with 4 columns headed:

  1. Functions
  2. Attributes
  3. Relationships
  4. Outcomes

Step 2: Make a list of all of the functions that the role performs Step 3: For each function, consider what attributes (skiils/knowledge or other qualities) are required to perform the function well and list these attributes in the second column Step 4: For each function, consider what relationships are involved in performance of the tasks involved – list the interdependencies (what the incumbent relies on someone else for and what others rely on the incumbent for) Step 5: Again for each function and taking into account all of the information in the first 3 columns, identify what the required performance outcomes are and list these in the fourth column You now have a comprehensive PD which, used properly, gives you that multi-faceted tool with which all 6 of the purposes set out above can be satisfied. Need a hand? Give Peter Maguire a hoy on 0438 533 311 or at peter@ridgelinehr.com.au [/av_textblock]