Job analysis - getting the job description right
What is job analysis?
Why is job analysis important?
Too often, time pressured managers pull out the same job description they have been using for years but how many jobs stay static and unchanged in our fast paced world?
Job analysis answers a very difficult question that most organisations struggle with: What are the specific behavioural requirements for this job that will produce the desired results?
Who might be able to help?
The best person to know the expectations and skills required for a role is usually the person currently occupying the position – assuming they have been in the role for at least 6 months prior and if you are confident they have been performing the role at a satisfactory level.
The supervisor and other team members are also likely to have some good input and give you an idea of how the role interacts with others in the immediate and broader team. It may be an opportunity to review work practices within the department and to remedy some inefficiencies. A good idea is to call a meeting with the relevant people and go through the job description systematically (see next page for elements of a job description format). It is often useful to reflect on a person who has performed the job really well and attempt to describe their behaviours.
If you have a Human Resources department, they may have some expertise to guide you through the development of an accurate position description.
What are the key elements of a good job description?
Purpose of the Position
Key Tasks or Accountabilities
This should then be followed by the purpose of the action e.g. Review, develop and implement appropriate quality improvement activities to improve the standard of care to patients and to ensure the continued improvement of all aspects of the service.
Typically you will have 6-8 well defined key accountabilities.
Other Optional Elements
Who are the key relationships with both internally within the organisation as well as externally? Who does the role report to? What Committees is the successful applicant expected to be an active member of, etc.?
What is the work environment like? E.g. XYZ Hospital offers a supportive team environment with flexible hours. This can be an opportunity to sell the benefits of the organisation but don’t go over the top with this. Be realistic. You may need to also incorporate the challenges of the role.
You expect an applicant to be honest in their CV; the same applies to the advert and job description. The right job description is the first step in helping you to select the right candidate.
Skills refers to the particular observable behaviours that a person needs to carry out work tasks, which are usually acquired through previous jobs or training – e.g. Paediatric Emergency Life Support Skills.
Capabilities are the less visible, physical or mental capabilities or aptitudes required by the person – e.g. excellent communication skills and ability to interact effectively within a multidisciplinary team environment.
Soft Skills versus Hard Skills
Typically recruiting managers know what skills and competencies are needed from employees to achieve success and of course it is still critical to have the required level of clinical or technical competency. However, when it comes to the behaviours, the issues become unclear and challenging.
If you think about the last person you worked with who performed particularly poorly in a role, what sorts of skills were they lacking?
Invariably it is issues like poor communication skills, lack of motivation, weak leadership, lack of insight and poor team play, which derails a recruit, causes conflict in teams and takes up the time of busy managers in performance remediation activities. It is usually not so much about a lack of clinical or technical ability.
Therefore, it is important to also reflect on what kinds of behaviours are ideal for your role and to try to describe them. If your role involves interacting with a large number of patients, families and multidisciplinary team members, then you need to focus on finding and identifying someone who will be a good communicator and comfortable dealing with a broad range of people.
If you are looking for a manager, think through what are the key things that make for an effective manager. What does a good manager look like? Is it someone who is consultative, who involves the team in decisions? Or is it someone who manages a budget well or sets the strategic direction.
You have to drill down sometimes to think through what do I mean by ‘demonstrated effective management skills’? What would I be looking for, for someone to demonstrate to me that they are an effective manager?
When you think about the time you might have wasted in the past managing a recruit that just wasn’t suitable for your team – the time and effort in performance management, the disruption to patient care and conflict within the team - it is, therefore, a small investment of your time to truly consider and reflect on what are the elements of this job and to develop a job description that will help you identify, recruit and manage the right employee.
Read the RDN tips on Preparing for the interview to get some advice on how you can structure your questions to better identify the behaviours you are seeking – and the behaviours you definitely do not want in your team!