The Importance of a Job Description

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jumbled scrabble tiles with the words JOB DESCRIPTION overlayed on photo

We shall dub the employee in this post, “Lana” for the sake of me not getting sued for disclosing an epic moment of complete failure. It was all my fault. I will state that right away to clear up any confusion. As always, I took that horrible turn of events and turned it into a learning experience. In the hopes you gain some insight on wording, I will proceed with this embarassing story.

We had banged our heads trying to come up with a new job posting to try and attract a new type of person. In our heads, we came up with the qualities of “creative” and “artistic” to include in the job description. Our intention was to attract a person with a good eye for display who could refresh the ever changing inventory. Our first lead was out of this world. “Lana” came to the interview with a series of photos displaying her various painted projects which were set within her home. The accompanying items in the photos complimented the pieces. We were blown away by the artistic displays! We hired her on the spot.

The following week “Lana” arrived to work all upbeat and optimistic. We showed her the various departments and spaces within the shop. As our shop featured both clothing and housewares, we made sure to lay out where everything normally was situated. We then gave her free reign on reworking displays WHILE bringing out the newly arrived merchadise to incorporate. “Lana” seemed mildly confused but set about her task. Things were looking up. Afterall, displays and presentation is what make sales. With all the day to day mundane tasks, it was nice to have someone taking that off our shoulers.

After the second day of work, “Lana” appeared aggitated but did not open up when asked how things were going. We accredited it to her having a bad day. On day three, things came to a head. There was much grumbling and animosity coming from “Lana.” Again, I asked if there were any problems to which she shrugged me off. Things were not looking good and she was unwilling to discuss. Later that evening, after her shift, I received a very unpleasant email from “Lana” which accused me of not sufficiently representing the position. She went on to state that she was an underpaid “laundress” who was being artistically stifled. “Lana” went on to state that it was her understanding that she would be painting the pieces at her leisure. She did not want to work on displays that involved clothing items. The end of the email made it clear that “Lana” would not be returning.

Here is where I realized that a written job description that actually gives examples of the tasks and duties expected is essential. Throughout the entire process, I had known what I had expected from the new position. However, I did not make that clear to applicants. If the job description had been clearly written with specifics, this entire situation would not have occurred.

When was the last time you revised the job descriptions for your employees? Even more intriguing, do YOU have a job description? The event I shared above with “Lana” fired me up to rewrite and rethink my job descriptions. It was a struggle and I started with my own job description. Once I really got into the insane ins and outs of my own job, it better prepared me for what to include for the team members around me.

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