Job descriptions are a waste of time and paper. Watch this new approach to human resources development and build a better business culture for your company team.

Job Descriptions are a Waste of Time

When you join a company, what do you do with the job description you are given? Like everyone else, you might read it once. Then, you’ll it in a drawer and forget all about it.

Yes, job descriptions are a legal necessity in many countries. However, no law says that the job description cannot change and adapt if the employee agrees for it to do so.

What happens right now is that an employee’s job changes over time. Unfortunately, the job description doesn’t change with it. So, the job description eventually becomes just a waste of paper. Indeed, it may become worse than that. Perhaps the employee gets upset that their job no longer connects with their job description and loses interest in your company.

Job Descriptions Are Old Fashioned

The whole idea of a job description is old fashioned. Some Human Resources departments have changed the name to Job Profile or Position Online, but the effect is the same.

A job description represents an old-fashioned approach to building a team structure. It is a way to pigeon-hole an employee into a box. Unfortunately, the modern world is changing so fast that the boxes we create just become more barriers to our adaptability.

In fact, job descriptions are a reflection of the way our minds work. We love to label things. We love to control things. So, job descriptions allow us to manage people through control, in a position that does not change until that person is promoted.

Indeed, when the person is promoted, Human Resources is expected to find a clone of that person. Because the Job Description has stayed the same. Sadly, the expectations of that position may not have stayed the same at all.

Job Descriptions Harm the Company and the Employee

The effect of this is that job descriptions can actually do harm. Firstly, job descriptions limit what an employee can or will do. Employees will stay within the limits of their job description. This creates a mentality of ‘only doing my job’.

I understand this mentality if it exists to stop a company employing people by asking them to do things that are totally outside their position. However, if a fair company is really concerned with employee wellbeing, then their growth, development, and learning should concern them too.

Indeed, growth, learning, and development are exactly the opposite of what a job description promotes within the business.

Secondly, by fixing on the idea of job descriptions, the business instills in its culture the idea of stability and repetition. Job descriptions suggest that everyone is a cog in a machine. They imply that the business culture is one of tasks being fulfilled and not of people working together to achieve something.

A Better Approach that Job Descriptions

An alternative approach to the conventional job description is a more holistic process. Rather than simply a document that tells a person what they will do, this document needs to evoke a different sensation in the employee. It should contain the employee’s future, their growth, their learning, as well as their personal and professional goals.

Job descriptions must stop being static documents. Rather, they can become alive! They can be a symbol of a company’s intention to care about the employee’s progress. And, rather than Human Resources simply feeling that this new approach is just more work for them, it can, in fact, create less work.

It has been shown that a company that cares for its people will reduce staff turnover. Therefore, an approach to Job Descriptions that includes a regular communication session with a leader, rather than an annual review, can also build trust and respect. This approach takes the humble job description out of the 20th century into the 21st.

The author, Michael Paul Stephens, is the founder of Provolution Consultancy, a Thailand-based corporate training business that helps companies build a better culture through The Human Spirit Model®. This model is the ultimate team-building  program and has enabled dozens of businesses across Asia to develop a culture of trust and respect that balances human needs and business needs equally. 



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