Are JDF’s important?
What do JDF’s do?
It’s surprising how many businesses still don’t bother with a Job Description Form (JDF) yet it is our view that they are critical tools for managing staff and form a foundation component of any Performance Appraisal process.
Alternatively we encounter businesses who do have JDF’s which have never been reviewed and have subsequently lost their relevance in relation to the actual responsibilities and duties required by or performed by a position.
A JDF is all about position not person and details who that position reports to, the ‘scope’ of the position (generally a paragraph of 4 or 5 sentences for example that details ‘what’ the position is about) and then a list of ‘Key Responsibilities’ and typical duties associated with fulfilling these responsibilities. Ideally the JDF also includes ‘Key Performance Indicators’ which details the objective measures used to evaluate how well the role is being performed.
A JDF should always include ‘ other duties as required’ as no one JDF will capture all of the typical outputs that a single position will perform during the course of the day or the week.
Our recommendation would be that, whilst it remains a fundamental responsibility of management to establish a ‘baseline’ JDF, the input of the position holder is critical in ensuring its relevance within your workplace- an inclusive process supports ownership and gives relevance to any performance measurement mechanism that evolves.
In general terms it is reasonable to assume that the person fulfilling the duties of a given position will have much more intimate knowledge of the mechanics of that position than either the employer or management.
It is our ongoing contention that without a relevant JDF it is an almost impossible job to establish clear performance guidelines and expectations. Too often we get clients calling us who say ‘I’m having a real issue with so and so they just aren’t performing ‘satisfactorily’- now there’s a word that causes issue totally disproportionate to the intrinsic meaning of the word !!
What does ‘satisfactory’ mean within the context of your workplace and the position anyway?
Without a JDF you’ll be struggling to articulate this clearly and to successfully manage staff whose performance is below the level required.
So, take the opportunity in the new financial year to either review your JDF’s with staff input or take the time to formulate a clear JDF with the input of existing staff within the role or roles required.
A good JDF is part of our ‘Best Practice Model’ and it should be a critical part of your workplace too.