In The Workplace

I’m the human resources (HR) manager of a company with 200 plus workers. For the first time, we’re planning to come out with a job description program covering all jobs. The trouble is that some department managers refuse the responsibility when I ask them to write it. Please clarify. — Lone Ranger.

It’s a team effort led by the HR department conducting the orchestra so everyone plays a part in making good music. There must be a division of labor with HR taking the lead in policy formulation and data collection. This is a major task for the organization. But first, let’s agree on the parameters.

What is a job description? It’s a summary of tasks derived from another process called job analysis describing the duties performed, the skills and training needed, experience required, and the specific individual responsibilities. In short, a job description contains a list of tasks, duties, and responsibilities.

They are observable actions. A good job description must contain four specifications, known collectively as KASH, or knowledge, attitude, skills, and habits.

It’s a major program that your organization can’t ignore.

If you want to make it easy for you and other department managers, you can hire an external consultant to do the job. That’s assuming you have a budget of around $100,000 on the lowend for consultants without an extensive track record. This amount should alert you to the enormity of writing job descriptions, even for a company of 200 plus workers.

It takes time to do. That’s why you need the assistance of department managers to help you. They know the job better than other managers and the workers. This alone is an excellent argument why we can’t exclude managers (and workers) from the process.

To ensure the best possible job description, note the following components, which apply to all jobs, including new positions and any jobs which may have been consolidated from two or three old positions:

Position Summary. This is an abstract of the job. It includes a brief statement on the job’s rationale and the expected results. It must be concise so readers and workers readily understand management expectations. The statement must be crystal clear so the tasks can be readily differentiated from the responsibilities of their line executives.

Principal Duties. This part describes the expected end results to which an incumbent job holder must have the basic accountability and responsibility. This will be the basis for performance appraisals and evaluations. Every statement must start with an action verb like the following for a recruitment assistant: “Find the most qualified candidates for all job vacancies as may be required.”

Education and Experience. It includes the minimum level of formal education and work experience. If necessary, specify if the job requires a professional government license or similar certifications. HR and the concerned department manager may make exceptions by accepting bachelor’s degree holders with at least 10 years of work experience. This is called equivalency.

Confidential Data. Now that we have a law on Data Privacy, it has become easy for everyone to understand that certain jobs are required to properly manage sensitive data. This includes salary and benefits information, work performance issues, marketing strategies, and trade secrets.

Organization Chart. Every organization must have a clear organizational chart to answer the following questions at a glance: To whom does the job holder report to? What position and management level? What other jobs report to the same line executive? And if warranted, what positions report to this position?

One caveat. Writing the job description of every worker and manager in your organization is not the end-all of everything. It’s not a stand-alone program. It must be correlated with the job evaluation process and industry standards on pay and benefits, among others. It must be defined in relation to other jobs on the basis of qualifications required that may include educational attainment, work experience and the KASH factors.

The goal is to determine which jobs should get more pay and benefits when compared with other job holders. They must be evaluated based on their job content and weight of their contributions in achieving corporate objectives. To do this, HR may consider the three basic methods of job evaluation that includes ranking, classification and factor comparison.

This is another worthy project for HR and all department managers. We can take this up next time if you want. Therefore, be on your guard. Be proactive. Always keep in mind what’s good for your organization, and don’t lose sight of HR’s leading role in this endeavor.


Bring Rey Elbo’s leadership program called “Superior Subordinate Supervision” to your management team. Chat with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, X (Twitter) or e-mail or via