Job Descriptions & Performance Appraisals – Who Needs ‘Em?! (Part 3)

Last week, we discussed the need for job descriptions for each position in your company.  Smart managers quickly realize that the formality of a job description is paramount to the employee’s understanding of where the job fits in the organization’s structure and the major elements of the position.  As we discussed, job descriptions needn’t be too fancy; as long as you summarize the essential functions and requirements, you’re light years ahead of your peers.  In part III of this four-part series, we’ll consider performance.

If job descriptions are a figment of the imagination in small companies, performance appraisals are virtually non-existent.  The two are very related as we will see in today’s discussion.  Who hates performance evaluations? Raise your hands…..  We can see you!!!  But let me ask you a few questions:

Is every employee performing as well as you expect or desire?

Are they doing their job well and grasping the inter-relatedness of their work in the big picture of your company?

The next logical question is… what have you done about it?  Grin and bear it?  After all, you ‘just can’t hire good help nowadays??’  Not true.  Good help is cultivated and trained.  While you can’t change someone’s personality, you can obtain the performance you want and need from your staff.  You just need to communicate it by various means (oral and written) and then follow through.

Once you’ve invested the time in creating the job description, the performance evaluation is a walk in the park!  Simply use the same essential functions you listed in the job description and create a rating scale.  Some employers use a five-point (excellent, good, average, fair, poor) scale for each task;  others use a number from one to 10, with a specified range of behavior from 1 = does not meet expectations to 10 = consistently exceeds expectations, and varied points in between.  It’s important to give some thought to your expectations about the task or function so that you can convey ahead of time, during the job description chat, how you will rate the individual’s performance. If you tell someone what you expect (especially if it is objectively measurable, such as error rates, denied claims, etc.) and then explain that this will be the basis of the evaluation, you have a better likelihood of seeing the performance you want. And by chance, if you don’t, you have ammunition to refute the employee’s challenge to a low evaluation score.  “Remember when we reviewed your job description and I told you x, y and z?”

Hopefully, our discussion today has convinced you that job descriptions and performance evaluations are a good investment of your time and will help you reap the benefits of a solid, performing team.  Thursday, in part IV of our four-part series, we’ll finish our coverage of performance evaluations and show you an example of how to tie together both documents for better success.

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