Position Descriptions

Just like our appraisal form, we like keeping things simple. Position Descriptions are often long, drawn out, boring documents containing a lot of irrelevant information, as if the more guff you put into them, the better they will be. But is more always better? Often, position descriptions like this can leave you confused about what the job is actually about. Managers and employees rarely refer to them and when they see them for the first time they may not even bother reading them. If that happens, the document is a failure. We take the view that it is much better to have a simple position description that captures the key aspects of a position.

This is not to say that position descriptions are not important; they are, particularly when you are recruiting. Along with the employment contract, they set expectations for employees. But often that is the only time they are referred to (or need to be referred to), unless something goes wrong! For example, they can be an important part of a disciplinary process, where an employee is not fulfilling the requirement of their position. So they are important, but let’s not make them long, boring documents with lots of superfluous information that nobody bothers to read.

Like policies, position descriptions, should be easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to comply with (in terms of the expectations they set). They should never leave us confused about what a job is really about.

A position description should cover three key areas:

  1. a summary of the position, which should be made up of a few sentences that capture the essence of why the position exists;
  2. key responsibilities and duties of the position; and
  3. key skills and abilities required to do the position.

Key Performance Indicators in position descriptions?

Some position descriptions include key performance indicators (KPIs). While this is not a bad idea, we are not generally fans of these being included in position descriptions. KPIs, targets, or goals, are important, and a great way to motivate people to achieve more (and there is an abundance of behavioural science research to support this). But they can be included in other documents, such as specific KPI documents that are part of an incentive program, or as part of performance review documents.

An example position description (in the simple style we like) for a Retail Assistant is attached.

Position description example