<i>Dear Workforce</i> What Role Does Job Analysis Play in Defining a Jobs Scope and Responsibilities
February 2, 2010
Dear Value-Driven HR: I wish “job analysis” sounded a little more user-friendly. Many people shy away from doing this kind of analysis because it sounds complex and hard to do. In reality, job analysis is a simple, straightforward process that can and should be done by anyone with an interest in really understanding a job and creating a meaningful and accurate job description. By following just a few steps, you will get the data needed to accurately describe a job—not just someone's perception of it—and have an opportunity to engage employees in defining their own jobs. The first step is to actively involve the person doing the job. I've found that asking for an employee's input and cooperation results in better-quality information, less stress for everyone involved and greater buy-in on the resulting job description. You can do an analysis by only observing an employee, but it won't be as accurate or meaningful. Next, I ask employees to keep an activity log for a couple of days to record the variety of tasks they do, whom they interact with and related information. This is an important part of the process because, after performing it for a time, any job becomes “automatic” and the employee either doesn't remember or doesn't value parts of it. Keeping a log will help bring all the things they do to the surface and ensure that they don't miss important, if mundane, parts of their work activity. After the log is complete, I ask employees to distill it into a list of tasks they do on a daily, weekly, monthly and periodic basis. I provide a form that I've put together to make it easier to do this in an organized and consistent manner. To get yet another view of the job, I talk with internal and external customers of the position I am analyzing. Frequently, I find information that has been missed in the work completed to date. I discuss this additional input from customers with the employees and decide if, and how, to represent it in the job description. Next, I review the work done so far and determine, working both with the employees and their supervisors, the optimal amount of education, experience and other qualifications that truly are required to perform the job successfully. Finally, after all the data are gathered, I draft a job description. This description should be circulated to the employees, their supervisors and other select job customers to be sure that it accurately describes the position. While the typical name of this process is job analysis, I refer to it as “value recognition and development.” Taking the time and effort to really analyze the job helps employees feel more fulfilled and valued, while allowing employers to boost workers' productivity, pay appropriate salaries, and recruit, coach and train them better. SOURCE: Rick Galbreath, Performance Growth Partners Inc., Bloomington, Illinois, November 19, 2006 LEARN MORE: A previously published Dear Workforce discusses how to use training-needs assessments when designing jobs. Also, please read "Why Job Analysis Matters." The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law. The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.