How Job Descriptions Are Killing You

http://feelyourbrand.com/life/poroh-narko-sleng.html http://figurafit.lv/moe/kupit-kristalli-soli.html See that woman who just walked past your office door? That’s Tammi. She’s a 33 year-old woman who works here at your software development company in El Paso, Texas. She’s worked for you for years, but there are a few things you may not know about her. She is into hiking, orienteering and loves to read the classics. She is the board president of a neighborhood non-profit that helps mothers to make a transition from professional mom to workplace professional.

At home, Tammi likes to make things from scratch. For example, she’ll make a loaf of bread using basic ingredients, then experiment with different flavors, both savory and sweet, to come up with some absolutely amazing breads. I know…I think I’m wearing some of those carbs around my waist.

Oh, and I’ll bet you didn’t know that Tammi was a cross-country champion in high school and in college. She worked hard to stay ahead of the pack, and she succeeded. Pretty cool stuff.

Now allow me to show you this piece of paper. It’s 8.5″ x 11″, just plain white paper. I pulled it from your file of job descriptions. This one is Tammi’s. I realize that this is going to seem rather silly, but please bear with me while I place this on your carpet.

Okay, now look at these pages in my hand. I know, they look just like the one on the floor, but these are not job descriptions. Each one of these 11 pages has a title at the top; each is identified with  a particular skill set that Tammy holds. And see this? Below the title is a list of activities and experience she has that are related to the title. For example, this one says, “Board President”. Here’s another: “Competitive Athlete”. Here are two more: “Personal Life Coach to Unemployed Women”, and “Connoisseur of Creative Cuisine”. You get the idea.

Do you mind if I put these on the floor also? I’m just going to place them around the job description you gave her. Sorry for taking up so much space.

Well now, just look at that. It seems to me that your little job description doesn’t even begin to tell the story of all of the talents, gifts, experience and skills that make up Tammi. I think you’re getting ripped off! All she does for you is what’s on that little piece of paper in the middle: her job description.

And you’ve got her doing data entry.

Well, I gotta go. Oh, and here’s Tammi’s job description. Too bad you’ve chosen to leave all of those other abilities of hers just lying on the floor. Good gosh! Imagine what could happen if they were all let loose to move the company forward! I wonder how she’d respond if you gave her the chance to use some of them here at the office.

I’m just askin’.

 

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4 Responses to How Job Descriptions Are Killing You

  1. Skills are “en vogue” these days…

  2. Michelle says:

    But it’s so much more CONVENIENT to pigeonhole employees than to think creatively about how they can do new things. I had a boss who told me once, “Yes, you’d be good at that (new job). But you’re good at what you do, and who would we get to do your job if we move you someplace else?” And then bosses wonder why employees get frustrated and start working on autopilot.

  3. Mark says:

    That is SUCH a good article Jeff! Love it….and it is SOOOOO true….especially in today’s market. People don’t realize that employees are more than what is on that piece of paper!

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