job descriptions

“It’s not my job” is one of the last things entrepreneurs want to hear when they are running a fast growing business. Job descriptions can help you fix it.

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Show Notes

“It’s not my job” is one of the last things entrepreneurs want to hear when they are running a fast growing business.  In this episode, we explore why using job descriptions is one important ingredient in running a healthy business.  We look at why some companies avoid using job descriptions and explain the reasons why they can help you create a better workplace as well as add value to your business.

Key Points

*Startups and small companies sometimes avoid using job descriptions because they are seen as a formality that will get in the way of entrepreneurial spirit.

*Entrepreneurs can start to see problems when they don’t take time to define the skills and requirements needed to perform roles in their business.

*As a company grows, employees will begin to wonder about career paths and advancement and will question what’s next for them in your company.

*We discuss some of the problems that result from lack of job descriptions, pay rates, job titles, workload and performance.

*Job descriptions act as not only a management tool but a communication tool that help with existing employees but also for recruiting new employees.

*Having good job descriptions are the basis for enabling good pay decisions as well as complying with laws and regulations.

*Using written job descriptions is a business practice that helps manage a growing business and adds value to your company.

Resources and Links

Link to Entrepreneur Magazine article mentioned in the episode: This Startup Launched Without Titles or a Traditional Business Structure. Here’s What It’s Doing Now

Information on Fair Labor Standards Act in the U.S.

Link to episode mentioned:  Employee Handbooks are a Necessary Evil for Your Business

To read more about this topic, you may want to have a look at this from my blog. Five Warning Signs Your Company Needs Job Descriptions

If you would like to talk to Lisa about this topic or any operational problems in your own business then set up a  Quick Care Consultation session with her by following this link.

 

Note: Links in this post may be affiliate links.  Lisa Roberts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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Lisa Roberts is a business operations consultant who advises growth company entrepreneurs in successfully managing growth and the challenges they face along the way. She has over 25 years of experience in operations, finance and administration and spent several years in executive roles at a high growth company. She recognizes that there is a fine line between success and failure in a growing business and that entrepreneurs need to focus on managing finances, creating a sound operation and employ good business practices to stay on track.   You can find out more about her here

One daunting part of running a business is making the decision to hire your first employee.

Your second, third and 30th isn’t very easy either!

If you started your business on your own, one of the biggest hurdles you climb is to bring others into your business. There’s a lot to think about when your first start hiring employees.     And let’s face it; you can only grow so much on your own before you realize you need help to continue growing.

Let’s look at some of the things you need to consider before you hire for your growing business.

Knowing You’re Ready

Something led you to this place. Running your business has become overwhelming and you know you have too much on your plate. Before long, there are some critical tasks that you put off or worse, tasks are just not getting done.

It may have gotten so bad that you accepted work only to have trouble getting it done or maybe you have even had to turn work down. Your schedule has gotten so filled that you don’t have time for family, friends or simply time to unwind.

You may have come to the decision to hire because of an opportunity. There is new business you can secure or you have a new idea to create more sales. The problem is you can’t take on much more so you need to do something.

Taking the Plunge

Ok so, you’ve made the decision, to hire your first employee and if business is really good maybe you’ve decided to hire a few employees. Now what?

If you’re thinking about the first person you need to hire be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that you need a clone of yourself.   Stop! I’m here to tell you the chances of that happening are slim if not impossible! To find someone who does everything you do, understand all about your business and can replace you is a fantasy so let it go!

Instead, one way to think about who you need is to think about your strong and weak areas. There are certainly things that you’re doing in your business that you are not necessarily good at. Make a list of things that you’re doing that could be done by someone with the skills needed to perform them well.

Another approach is to look at the tasks that you’re doing and consider them in the context of where is my time better spent. Running a small business, you are certainly doing much of the work and some of that work can be done by someone else with your oversight and management.

As you develop the list of tasks that someone else can do, think about whether the position is full-time, part-time or if it could be outsourced. In addition, think about the skills that are needed to perform the position(s) you are creating. You’ll need that to start developing your position or job description anyway.

Make Sure you’re Really Ready to Hire

If you’re someone who has little or no management experience you need to make sure that you’re ready to hire someone and make them successful. Whether you like it or not, they will need to be supervised and managed.

You’ve defined the skills and one that you may not be thinking about, and you should, is to find someone who can work with minimal supervision. In a small growing business, chances are you won’t be with them 24/7. Searching for someone with good judgement and the ability to work fairly independently can take some of the burden off of you.

To be ready to hire, you’ll also need to commit to training your news hires. Hiring someone new is a big commitment and yes it will take up your time, especially in the beginning. To make your new employees successful, you need to commit time to training them on your business. They need to understand the tasks they will perform as well as the latitude they have to make decisions independently. You’ll save time, money and frustration in the long run to commit training time up front.

One quick word about titles before we go any further in this article.

Sometimes I see business owners give out titles like they’re Santa on Christmas morning. Maybe it’s a nice shot to the ego to say that you’re growing so much that you need a VP of this or that. If you’re business is small and these are your first few hires, resist handing out big titles too early.

You’ll thank me later when months from now the employee walks into your office to tell you they looked at Salary.com or Glassdoor.com and they think are not paid enough in lieu of their title!

Other Considerations for Hiring

You’ve more than likely thought of this already. Can your business afford to hire someone?

Yes this is a big step and your business needs to absorb the cost of new employees. In your cost decisions concerning new hires don’t forget to calculate the cost of your salary load. That’s the cost of the added taxes, worker compensation and fringe benefits in addition to the pay for new employees. The salary load can be 1.25 times and up to 1.4 times the pay for that employee depending on your benefit offerings. That $40,000 salary turns into $52,000 with a 1.3 load, given an estimate of all the added costs and benefits, so keep that in mind.

Depending on your company’s profit levels, the added costs for hiring new employees will have an initial hit to costs and profit as the employee ramps up. You’ll need to make sure that you’re ready for that when you commit to hiring new employees.

Once you’ve decided to hire employees there are a host of considerations surrounding employment laws and employee rights that you need to keep in mind. Know the rules that apply to you concerning employment before you bring in new employees. There are also considerations depending on the number of employees you have and these rules can change as your company grows larger. Make sure you understand them or consult with an expert who understands the laws in the area in which your business operates.

It is not uncommon for smaller businesses to hire family and friends or even friends of friends. A word of caution is warranted when you consider hiring family & friends. Skills for the job should come first and before the friendship. Hiring family and friends can work for your company but keep in mind that if things don’t work out, it can get complicated. Your first priority should be to get the skills you need.

Decide to Hire the Right Way

Making those first hires in your business is a big step for any business owner. Go into it with your eyes open.

Take care to consider all that goes into making sure that you get the right people to help you drive your business forward.

I got a call from a business owner who was at his wits end about some employee problems. The more I listened, the more I could see that his biggest problem was that there were no clear roles and responsibilities and no job descriptions.

Most growing businesses go through a period where they move from very entrepreneurial to a more structured organization. In the beginning, roles and responsibilities are loose and everyone chips in to get the work done.  After a while, as you add new people to handle increased workloads, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to effectively manage everyone without some structure.

For my owner friend, it started with questions from an employee about fair pay.

What are some other signs that indicate you may need to get formal descriptions in place?

 

Five Signs that You Need Job Descriptions

job descriptions and organization chart
Image courtesy of Pixabay
  1. Wage and Salary Questions – Anyone can go online, look at Monster or Salary.com for a certain title and view the compensation range for that title. A job description does not define title as much as it defines the specific job roles, responsibilities, skill set and the value of them.
  2. Titles – Owners need to plan their growth structure as well the titles they use. As I mentioned, salaries may differ greatly by the title you place on a specific job. For example, if you call an employee a manager and they are really performing basic supervisory work, they may be confused about not only salary, but also responsibility and authority.
  3. Lack of Clear Roles and Responsibilities – As your organization grows, not clearly defining roles and responsibilities will most likely allow things to fall through the cracks and leave tasks undone. Recurring incidents of important tasks left undone can also cause disorder, which can lead to frustration and ultimately apathy in the staff.
  4. Employee Frustration – Confusion about employees’ job responsibilities will also lead to frustration and conflict. Employees like to know what’s expected of them so they can understand how performance is measured in order to be successful and satisfied in their job.
  5. Boss / Authority Questions – Job descriptions also help clarify the “reports to “aspect of an employee’s job. Years ago, I personally dealt with this. It was both frustrating and stressful for me, as an employee, to answer to effectively two bosses.

Establishing job descriptions helps clear up confusion about who does what, what a position’s pay is worth in the market and help ease some of the chaos, frustration and dissatisfaction that your employees are feeling. There are other benefits to having good job descriptions at your company.

Four Benefits of Job Descriptions

  1. Employee Performance – Part of measuring employee performance for both the employee and the employer is having a measuring stick. The job description is part of that measuring stick; how the employee performs against the required roles and responsibilities of his or her job.
  2. Growth Path For Employees – Having an understanding of the responsibilities, duties and skills needed for an employee to move up to the next role will help him see a path for career progression. Not understanding what the next level is and how to get there can be frustrating for an employee who wants to develop and grow at your company.
  3. Legal – Many legal issues surround this area and are too detailed to get into here. However, having a clear job description will help you define better, the pay scale, employee classification and may help if there is ever an employee dispute.
  4. Recruiting – A job description will make it easier for you to recruit for that position the next time you have to fill that role or add more positions like it in your company. It will serve as the basis for the job listing so that you can easily advertise and recruit for that position.

Who Has Time?

As a business owner, you’re probably sitting there thinking I don’t have time to write job descriptions for all my employees!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you spending time trying to find someone to do something in your business because it’s nobody’s job?
  • What’s the cost to your business when certain tasks fall through the cracks?
  • Do you have to stop what you’re doing and take time out because an employee is expressing frustration and dissatisfaction about their role in your company?
  • How much time are you losing from that employee who may not be as productive due to that dissatisfaction?
  • Are employees leaving because they feel underpaid because you gave them a big title without the pay – what’s turnover costing you?
  • Have you ever had a dispute with an employee about performance that resulted in large legal fees because of a claim of wrongful termination or violation of wage laws?

A little time now, can save time later

The truth is investing some time in writing job descriptions will create benefits in the long run. As you grow and add more positions, the need to have them will be more and more apparent. They will help you develop clear responsibility and clarity for the jobs in your company. Your employees will be happier knowing what their role is and what is required to achieve good performance.  They may also help save you time and money in the long run.