Job descriptions, Job Duties and Performance Standards
Tips on formatting and writing University Job Descriptions:
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Determine Major Job Duties
Definition, resources, and considerations
The first step in the process is to determine the major duties of the job. Major job duties are those job specific duties that are essential to a specified job. These are the duties that the job was really established to perform, and if they were not performed would severely impact the nature of the job. They are distinct from marginal functions, which are peripheral to the core duties.
Resources to help you identify major job duties:
- The Position Description on file
- Job Specifications from the Human Resources Department
- A recent job posting for that position
Some things to consider in determining and prioritizing major job duties:
- What are the primary responsibilities of the position?
- What duties are critical to the job?
- What duties are sufficiently important to overall success such that performance below standard would result in unacceptable overall performance?
- What percentage of time is spent on the duty?
A main purpose of reviewing the job description is to increase two-way communication between supervisor and employees regarding the job itself. This is best done when the process of determining major job duties is done collaboratively between supervisor and employee. This allows for differing perceptions of responsibilities, priorities, etc. to be addressed and clarified. Of course, it is the role of the supervisor to ultimately define the job.
Define Performance Standards for Each Duty
While the list of Major Job Duties tells the employee what is to be done, performance standards provide the employee with specific performance expectations for each major duty. They are the observable behaviors and actions which explain how the job is to be done, plus the results that are expected for satisfactory job performance. They tell the employee what a good job looks like. The purpose of performance standards is to communicate expectations. Some supervisors prefer to make them as specific as possible, and some prefer to use them as talking points with the specificity defined in the discussion. Keep in mind that good performance typically involves more than technical expertise. You also expect certain behaviors (e.g. friendliness, helpfulness, courteousness, punctuality, etc.) It is often these behaviors that determine whether performance is acceptable. Performance standards are:
- Based on the position, not the individual
- Observable, specific indicators of success
- Meaningful, reasonable and attainable
- Describe "fully satisfactory" performance once trained
- Expressed in terms of Quantity, Quality, Timeliness, Cost, Safety, or Outcomes
In determining performance standards, consider the following:
- What does a good job look like?
- How many or how much is needed?
- How long should it take?
- When are the results needed?
- How accurate or how good is acceptable?
- Are there budget considerations?
- Are there safety considerations?
- Are there legislative or regulatory requirements that require strict adherence?
- Are there behaviors that are expected in your department to promote teamwork, leadership, creativity, customer service?
- What results would be considered satisfactory?
- What condition will exist when the duty is well performed?
- What is the difference between good and poor performance?
Common standards applicable to everyone in a particular group
There may be a set of common standards and behaviors that are expected from everyone. For example, all supervisors may be expected to perform similarly around several functions, or everyone in the unit will be held to the same standards around teamwork, customer service, etc. In cases like this, you might want to make a list of the common standards that apply and attach to each individual's performance management plan.