Are you hiring? Throw out the job description you prepared.

Its Not My JobAll business owners/business managers have an obligation to properly communicate with their staff.  Too many of you get this wrong right from the beginning – at the point you get ready to hire someone.   Here is an excerpt of a job description that one of my clients used when hiring his controller:

  1. Maintain a documented system of accounting policies and procedures.
  2. Manage outsourced functions
  3. Oversee the operations of the accounting department, including the design of an organizational structure adequate for achieving the department’s goals and objectives
  4. Oversee the accounting operations of subsidiary corporations, especially their control systems, transaction-processing operations, and policies and procedures.

Your read through this and say “makes sense to me.”  But it only makes sense because it is how all job descriptions read.  In today’s business environment, we want our staff to take responsibility for their work, to be accountable and measured.  Here is how I would have written the preceding job description:

  1. Responsible to bring all internal control systems into compliance with the International Federation of Accountants.  This must be complete by December 31, 2013.
  2. Responsible for negotiation, management and measurement of all outsourced functions.  Implement a compliance and measurement system that can be administered by HR.iri
  3. All monthly reports are delivered on time and with 100% accuracy.   This includes corporate as well as all subsidiary companies.
  4. Develop KPI’s (key performance indicators) that will be presented to management every month.  These KPI’s will exactly tell management (in one or two pages) the status of all of your job responsibilities.

The difference is the  first group tells the controller what to do – and hopes the objectives are met.  The second is telling the controller what he need to accomplish and implementing a  reporting system to tell management that his goals are being met.

All of this comes from a meeting I had with Betsy Allen of Gaining Results Inc.  She introduced us to the A method of hiring.  It’s a long story but this is a system that evolved from Jack Welsh’s (General Electric) desire to improve 5 year management retention from 75% to 90%.  This methodology has 4 parts:

  1. Scorecard.  Documents exactly what you want the person to accomplish (the new job description).
  2. Source.  Generate a list of the right candidates.
  3. Select.  Have structured interviews that rate the candidate against the scorecard.
  4. Sell.  Make sure they buy the company story.

The call to action in this post is my desire to move you away from telling your staff what you want them to do and toward telling them what they need to accomplish – what they are responsible and accountable for.

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