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Results-based job descriptions

Results based Content image

We’ve all seen it – the task-oriented job description. Devised by hiring managers to describe the role they are recruiting for, it’s more often than not a long list of micro-tasks. Even worse, this list all too often makes its way into the job advert. In fact, sometimes it even becomes the job advert.

But while task-oriented job descriptions might make sense from an internal perspective, they’re unlikely to light anyone’s fire when they actually come into the role.

Why? Because people like to feel that they’re part of something bigger, and while task-oriented job descriptions tell candidates what they’ll be expected to do, they don’t explain why.

It’s all about value.

Think about it – you’ve established your company vision, your mission and your values. You’ve communicated them to everyone inside and outside the business. But are they reflected in your job descriptions? If they’re not, what you’re asking your employees to do might be at odds with what you want to achieve.

It’s not enough to simply tell employees what they have to do; you must also express what results can be achieved by performing those tasks and how they fit into the business’s objectives as a whole.

In other words, the value the candidate brings to your company.

How can I write a results-based job description?

As ever, it’s important to start at the beginning. What is your company’s mission, its vision, its goals? Now ask, what is the purpose of this job? What will the candidate bring to the company’s wider goals and why is their work important to us?

Despite what you might think, employees are less interested in what they’ll be doing at 3pm on a Thursday than how they personally fit into your company’s purpose.

Next, look at the tasks you’re asking the employee to complete. What is accomplished by performing these tasks? How will they achieve your objectives? Remember, you should always start with the result, not the duty. A great way to do this is with the word ‘by’:

Result by task

So the clue to writing a results-based job description is in the name: it starts with the result. Instead of listing what the candidate will be doing, think about what they will be doing for the business by completing that particular task. In other words, a results-based job description asks not “What are we doing?”, but “Why?”

Here’s an example:

Instead of “Take deliveries, manage stock and update store displays”, try “Ensure the smooth running of the store by taking deliveries, managing stock and updating store displays.”

It’s a simple tweak, but it puts the company’s value (efficiency) first and the task second.

Now keep it going

Most importantly, remember that results-based job descriptions don’t stop at the recruitment stage. Once you’ve got the right candidate on board, you’ll be more likely to keep them if you continue your results-driven approach to their daily tasks.

A study conducted by the International Journal of Business and Management showed that employees who know the reason for their work have a greater emotional attachment to the company, more enthusiasm and are more likely to go above and beyond what’s expected.

So the more you can communicate why an employee needs to do something, the more likely they are to be engaged in and competent at the task.

Creating value-adding jobs

Results-based job descriptions will always beat a task-oriented approach, simply because humans desire purpose over duty. As managers, we all want greater employee engagement and for our teams to understand their purpose in the organisation, and employees feel the same way. They want to understand how their tasks fit into the company’s big picture.

People want real, value-adding jobs, not a list of tasks that don’t seem to have a purpose.

If they don’t feel that their job fits into the bigger picture, they will either cease to be engaged with their role or redefine their job as something else – often with disastrous consequences.

A defined, challenging but achievable job description allows employees and managers to bring the best of themselves to work and creates greater engagement – and that makes them more likely to hang around.

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