Smart Job Description Writing Secrets

Employee turnover is costing millions of dollars in losses. Fact: Costs to replace an employee is often twice the existing employee’s annual salary. Smart job description writing may be the unsung hero of small business sustainability. Few companies put proper time and effort into such an important tasks. Even fewer companies use the job descriptions once they are created. Master the art of job description writing.  Become the employee retention hero in your organization. Everyone is obsessing about saving pennies on paper clips. You can save thousands by recruiting and retaining top talent.

Start with Values

The job description writing process is an important part of keeping the type of talent you want. This summary of requirements needed to be successful at a specific job helps both the job applicant and small business operator.  It helps by keeping each other focused, honest, and accountable. Proper job description writing starts with an examination of your mission, vision, and value statements within your organization. Success requires a study of the culture of your organization. Success in job description writing also focuses on the specific department in which the new hire will work. Simple but deliberate steps in preparation for writing the job description will help you to produce a quality recruiting tool.

Respect the Process

Smart job description writing requires thoughtful reflection. Choose your words carefully. Consider the classic who, what, when, where, how, and why process we all learned in grade school English Literature class. “Who” relates to the culture of your organization. “What” relates to the task to be done. “When” often can be addressed with required hours of work required. Is the job a night shift or maybe as needed basis? “Where and How” can be answered with whether a job can be filled with a person working from remote locations or maybe how much travel is involved. “Why” might be the most important of all. The “why” section is where you sell your company. “Why” section is where you sell the benefits of your company culture, the rewards of the job, prestige, recognition, etc.

Must Haves

Certain points must be covered by any job description. Obvious tasks like job title, required skills, list of tasks are self-explanatory. Other important items might not be so obvious. If a listing is an internal job description, not used for recruiting, then consider including key performance indicators in your description. K.P.I.s are tried and tested methods by which to hold both the boss and the employee accountable for required tasks. Mindtools.com maintains an excellent section for details of K.P.I. usage. Be sure to include the chain of command or supervisory process. It is important for a new hire or candidate to understand who is responsible for delegation and leadership.

Watch your Language

In professional circles, words mean things. We can assume that if a business leader cannot or will not use proper language in a job description then that leader lacks commitment to excellence other areas of the organization.
  • Avoid vague terms like “often”, “some”, “hot”, “cold”, “milk toast”.
  • In an age of overly sensitive bias, avoid terms which designate gender like “he” or “sir”.
  • Be wary of inadvertent hints to political or other personal affiliation with words like “blessed” or slang terms like “y’all”.
Avoiding using descriptive terms like “he” or “she” is getting annoying. If someone is offended by the use of terms then that is not likely someone who would fit in on my team. Unless you are running a steakhouse in Western Texas, using “y’all” is not flattering. Avoiding such local slang simply shows that your organization has a higher social intelligence quotient It shows awareness of the outside world. Ok, ok, let’s be fair. “Milk toast” is not something you will likely see in a job description. I put it in there for my own entertainment. What is milk toast? That is a term used to describe a person or attitude which is bland, soft, mushy, and useless.

Bonus Job Description Writing Secret

When conducting job description writing, study the culture of your organization closely. If the description is meant to be used as an external recruiting tool then breathe life into the summary. Start by selling the finer points of the job, the location, the brand, the fun. Give the facts and the boring data as required but find a way to give it meaning to the ideal candidate. Put some effort into job description processes. Smart processes for writing descriptions is to enjoy the journey of discovery. Business leaders who do write job descriptions correctly often discovery many things about the organization which went previously unknown. Do it right and you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Most Popular Employee Traits

Job recruiters often use a secret let of most popular employee traits. Companies ask questions about these traits during interviews to make a best guess on which candidate is best to fill a job opening. The most sought after job positions are always competitive. That means the candidate must be competitive in his search and interview process with proper preparation. Knowing what the interviewer wants and knowing these most popular employee traits gives the job candidate a better shot at landing that great gig. There are certain secondary skills which are important but often difficult to measure. Intelligence is subjective. Is the mechanic less intelligent than the surgeon? Before you answer that, watch a surgeon try to change the oil on his BMW. Self confidence is clearly important but do you want an arrogant secretary? The word leadership is all the rage in this decade but do you need a natural born leader to conduct custodial needs? Recruiters often say they want a competitive attitude. Do you truly want someone in your assembly line always trying to be better than everyone else? Energy level is another popular term of this decade. Yes, energy is good but do you want an over caffeinated, obnoxious individual bouncing off of the walls while you are concentrating on accounting spread sheets?

Popular Employee Traits Worth Seeking

A better solution might be to avoid the subjective terms and focus on what is more accurately measured. Consider this list of most popular employee traits which are more accurately measured:
  • Ability to Communicate
  • Self-knowledge
  • Vocational Aptitude
The ability to communicate is easy to measure. Vocational aptitude is not always measured in academic performance. The candidate with an advance degree in English Literature is admirable but is of little value to someone looking for a pipe fitter or a welder. Self-knowledge can also be referred to as social intelligence.You can casually observe a candidate’s communication skills by asking questions and listening.

Take Action

Observe speech patterns. Observe the use of proper grammar. Listen to indicators of local accent and attitude. Wait for the use of phrases to indicate a person’s value system, lifestyle choices, and religious affiliation. No, you should not use a candidate’s personal lifestyle choices as a primary hiring decision but you can certainly consider how a person’s value system will mesh or conflict with the culture in your office.A candidate’s Social IQ is difficult to measure in a formal interview. This is why it is common for many business leaders to hold at least one informal interview in a restaurant setting. You can observe someone’s Social IQ in the way he treats restaurant service staff.  You can see a candidate’s Social IQ in the way he orders a meal and communicates with the servers. A manager would obviously want to avoid the candidate who is rude, disrespectful, or in any way is insulting to restaurant service staff. The manager might also want to
. The new graduate from the finest nursing school in the country is of little value until those acquired skills are put to work. The balanced combination of acquired knowledge and applied skills is critical to the success of any applicant. You can get a general measure of a person’s academic knowledge through college transcripts and discussions on academic subjects. Applied skills is another issue. It is virtually impossible to measure a welder’s capacity to create complex joints in steel structure or to measure a nurse’s ability to start an I.V. without observing the action.

The Breviary

All managers must be aware of acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask in an interview. Be sure the interview is a two-way communication with the candidate doing most of the talking. Be prepared, however, for the candidate to present challenging questions to the interviewer as every job interview is a two-way evaluation. Prepare your questions before the interview. If possible, review the question list with a qualified team member for input but keep the questions confidential. Always tell the job candidate about the next step in the process. Maintain good eye contact but do not stare as research shows that too much eye contact makes you look a bit crazy. Interviews can be challenging. Your best resource is likely your human resource. Learn to lead boldly with deliberate planning and analysis while avoiding vague terms and measurements. The list of most popular employee traits will go a long way to helping you recruit and retain top talent. Read more on how to become a better interviewer with this excellent article from inc.com. A complimentary article is this from Huffington Post: 9 Things That Make Good Employees Quit. Blog image compliments of © Ilya Kalinin | Dreamstime.com – Man to give, grant an interview. Chat show

Good Management Functions for Bold Leadership

Good management functions start with functions of great processes. If you are having problems with employee performance then look to your managers. If you have problems with the performance of your managers then look to your processes. If you cannot identify our processes then look in the mirror. The common wisdom is that we manage processes but we lead people. The rhythm set by leadership dictates the rhythm of the organization.

Good Management Functions Clarity

If you did a random poll on the street and asked people to outline the differences between management and leadership, most would say there is no difference. Many business school graduates cannot provide a specific definition of either term. In reality, the debate about where management ends and leadership begins is endless and often pointless but please do not tell your College Professor that. The popular textbook concept of management is the process by which goals are accomplished through planning, analysis, leadership, and directing resources. Did you notice something in there? In an attempt to define management, we used the word leadership. It never ends!
Instead of the fruitless attempt to identify managers by how they work let us consider defining the functions of good managers by what they do. Buzzwords of modern good management practices include empowering employees and gaining cooperation. Empowering employees means managers motivate employees to high productivity through allowing each employee to have control over daily work activity. That is an effective strategy assuming the employee is dedicated and qualified. Many self labeled management gurus insist that your company will not be successful unless you have the best of the best employees at every level. That is a nice idea but impossible to accomplish and incredibly obvious! Consider these 3 Functions of Good Management:
  1. Servant Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Organizational Control

Leadership

The Servant Leadership model is one where the leader empowers the line workers to be the best they can be. The Servant Leader stands in the gap and removes barriers, noise, and distractions which rob employees of productivity. Functions of good management for leadership includes providing performance feedback, clarification of processes, and motivation of the team. There are best practice models for how good leaders provide performance feedback in a way that maintains the dignity of the employee and inspires increasingly higher levels of excellence. Great processes make great employees. Since it is impossible to hire the best of the best in every organization, we must create great processes for good employees. Good management practices includes dedication to constant process improvement for sustainable success.

Strategy

Strategic planning is mandatory for operating a business where success is not an accident. Management serves in the strategic planning role through setting goals for every level of the organization. It is not enough for the line workers to have goals. Department managers should have goals. Even the CEO should have a set of goals. Each set of goals should be set through cooperation of the employee and the immediate supervisor. Smart planners do not simply create new goals. They also ensure the resources are available and allocated to set their team up for success.

Control

What we can measure we can manage. What we can manage we can correct when necessary. Good management functions always include methods for measuring results set by the organizational directives. Management’s organizational control includes recruiting and retaining top talent. Most managers stop there but excellent managers know there is more to effective leadership than recruitment and retention. Placing the right people, in the right places, doing the right things is an age old strategy but seems to be presented as a new concept by many. After reviewing the above good management functions it should be obvious that management and leadership are closely connected and cannot be separated. Many Management Coaches looking to make a name for themselves with a catchy idea attempt to separate management and leadership. They they attempt to support their false truth with skewed logic. There are many incomplete arguments that say you can lead people without managing them. Others attempt to attach the term leadership to Christian based principles as if management does not encompass Christian concepts as well. Avoid these traps. Ditch the academic debate over semantics and the parsing of words. In the real world of high pressure business, there is no difference between management and leadership. Both term refer to helping people reach their fullest potential while operating a profitable firm providing value to loyal customers.

The Real World

Regardless of the terms you use. Good management functions for leadership remain the same. There is nothing new under the sun. Human beings have not evolved enough since the beginning of recorded history as to demand an new set of rules for motivating others. What worked in the times of the Romans to move people to be productive still works today. In the most basic form, it is the carrot or the stick. You either force people to do what you need them to do or you motivate them through understanding what moves them and then give them a choice. Wow, now that is revolutionary and fundamental! Want to read more on elements of good leadership? Check out this article from CNN and this one from the blog of Brian Tracy. Blog image courtesy of: © Ivaylo Sarayski | Dreamstime.com – Newspaper collage

Email Management Best Practices

Email management is always challenging. Email overload is costing you millions and maybe your dream of success. Email has become a real monster and time stealer to many business leaders. A M.D. conducted a study of his own email usage and discovered that email overload was costing his practice approximately $1600 per year. Add that figure to every employee in your organization and it could add up to millions of dollars in lost productivity. The need for information management is nothing new. From pre-historic stone tablets to massive warehouses of paper files in 1975, managing information has always been a challenge. It is not until the age of computers and the internet that the need to minimize electronic communication became necessary. Being overwhelmed with communication is no longer the primary danger. The legal implications of errant emails and electronic communication is now widely know. 
Smart email management best practices are required by every business leader of the modern era. After two decades of learning the hard way, we are finally at a point where we have a good set of simple rules for managing the beast that is electronic communication.
  • Set a specific time for email reading.
  • Limit the number of times you check or automatically receive email.
  • Turn off electronic alerts.
  • When in doubt, pick up the phone.
The more you accept, read, and respond to emails, the more people will send them to you. A common effective practice is to let emailers know that you will not accept emails longer than five sentences. Anything longer is consider a conversation and should be had by phone, Skype, or in person. 3 email reading sessions per day is also a popular strategy. Allow each email session to last 30 minutes and be brutal on  your time management. 
Electronic alerts might be one of the most time stealing and attention breaking tools ever invented. Avoid such alters whenever you can. An effective habit for changing the behavior of those with overuse of email is to pick up the phone and call the emailer instead of responding via electronic means. A brief and polite comment that you prefer phone calls for certain types of communication can be very effective. Set your expectations or others will set them for you. The Breviary: A helpful article with facts on how emails wreck productivity can be found here. Learn to set boundaries so others do not set them for you. Electronic communication is an excellent tool when managed well. Take steps to limit such communication to improve your leadership strategy. Blog image compliments of © Marek Uliasz | Dreamstime.com – Information overload concept

Impress Like Professionals

Impress like professionals for successful life because life is competitive. Learning to impress like a professional is fundamental to those who achieve their goals and dreams. The most desirable lifestyles, careers, and locations are all in short supply. The smallest competitive edge might be all you need to win. Don’t forget the basics. Proper attire and good manners are always in style. First impressions are still one of the most powerful tools for success in your career and your personal life. Polite attitudes and pressed dress shirts are habits of the highly successful but not as common as you might expect. Before you stress about the font on your resume or the watch on you wrist, focus on the basics of traditional conservative business culture. Many rules business culture are not written but these rules are highly reinforced. The best way to learn these unwritten rules is to observe others. Start with these fundamentals:
  • Trendy is often not professional.
  • Good grooming is always in style.
  • Being prepared is often under appreciated.
In the Dot Com bubble of the 1990’s, America experimented with a brief trend towards more casual workplace behavior. Relaxed dress codes, work hours, and many other traditional workplace etiquette behaviors were challenged. That did not work out as expected. The problems with these sloppy standards were amplified when the economic tech bubble deflated and companies came back to reality.
In business circles, we are all judged and we all make judgements and there is nothing wrong with that. Good grooming is one of the easiest ways to impress like a professional. Stick to traditional and less trendy styles. Observe the grooming habits of team leaders for cues on what unwritten rules are present in your organization. Impress like professionals and being respectful in your professional career seems obvious but it is not practiced as much as you think. Outright insults are usually avoided but veiled acts of rudeness and gossip corrosive to the culture of many businesses. That passive aggressive attitude is infectious and extremely harmful to productivity and sustainability. Stay alert, sit up straight, listen to others, talk less are just a few of the tips to remember. Try it, you might be surprised how many of these are often violated. Being prepared is one of the most overlooked habits of those who know how to impress like a professional. This is more than simply being on time. A prepared business pro is someone who knows the material, ask pertinent questions, and provides quality answers to the questions of others. How many times have you observed attendees nodding off in meetings. How many times have you watched a coworker ask a question which exposes the fact that he did not do his research? Practicing good manners is important to impress like professionals when using technology like cell phones and social media is something new to this list of how to impress like a professional. Remember that not every business acquaintance wants to be your friend on social media. Your cell phone is best turned off or left outside of the room during private business meetings. If you send someone an email, that you’ve never met, then introduce yourself as if you were talking to them for the first time, in person. The Breviary: Proper business etiquette speeds the process of business operation. Good manners improves everyone’s work experience. Your reputation follows you everywhere you go. Learn to impress like a professional and gain that competitive edge you’ve been looking for. More details on business manners can be found at www.netmanners.com.
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