The one-page document that can cost or save you millions – do you know what it is?

Share with your friends


In every organization there exists a one-page document that holds unimaginable power.  It holds the power to grow amazing results or unleash total destruction upon the organization.   The Mayan civilization understood that nothing is good and nothing is evil.  They also understood that with ultimate power came ultimate responsibility and learning how to harness that power could bring your the results you wanted.  The same holds true for this document.

The Job Description

For some 20 years now, I have been preaching that “all your problems start at your front door.”  I learned this lesson many years ago after managing a portfolio of more than 150 high-hazard companies.  The companies that were the most successful knew they had to make great hiring decisions.  But making great hiring decisions comes down to due diligence and that due diligence is represented in your job description.job description issues and problems

The job description is the jack of all trades. It can help you make great hires by creating job posting. It can help your employees be all they can be by creating performance reviews.  It can help you develop your employees by creating a guide for training.  It can help you keep your staff safe by listing the essential functions.  And it can help you weed out the non-performers by providing you a great defense to poor performance.

I’ll Stop Lying On My Resume When You Stop Lying On The Job Description

The biggest issue facing organizations is that they don’t take time to develop their job descriptions.  If they do develop job descriptions, then they typically fail to update them on a regular basis.  I’ve worked with companies that thought the job description didn’t matter – they literally copied another organizations documents, including the other company’s name.  Can you image what your employees would think if you handed them a job description from a competitor. Now that’s a first impression!

Job descriptions need to be authentic.  They need to be objective views into the job itself.  Here’s an example: your description states the employee needs to be able to lift 135 pounds.  But, then you allow the employees to help each other when moving 92 pound boxes.   In this example, the essential function isn’t 135 pounds – it’s 91 pounds.  This simple misstatement on the job description can work against you in an ADA claim.

So often we are rushing to build our bank of job documents and we subjectively make up the functions of the job.   Want a really great typist?  Is that 92, 130, or 175 words a minute?  Want someone that is healthy and fit?  Must lift 200 pounds, walk 3 miles and stand for 12 hours a day.   This certainly will help you find that ultra employee, but when it comes down to it, these functions weren’t measured subjectively and therefore aren’t essential.

Get Authentic

If you want to build a great job description, then you really need to get authentic.  Hire a physical therapist and have them work with your existing employees around for a day.  They will use scientific tools (scales, tape measures, stop watches, etc…) to measure the essential functions.  Functions that will stand up in court and functions that can be measured in a functional exam by a doctor.

Update Them Regularly

Now, that you have built a great job description, you need to update it regularly.  How often you ask?  Well, for starters technology changes all the time and so do the operations that we perform.  An annual general review of all your documents should be performed annually.  This will help you catch those major changes and focus in on the documents that need to be updated.

If you know you have changes in job functions, then theses should be updated on an as-needed basis.




Leave a Reply