“And other duties as may be assigned.”
I don’t know about you, but since mid-March 2020, almost all of my job now falls under “and other duties as assigned.” The same is true for my direct reports. Here are 10 reasons you should update your job description regularly:
- Get clear on what is yours to do right now, and what is not
- Re-evaluate what the most important parts of your job are
- Know what to set down
- Get clear on the new parts of your job
- Renegotiate parts of your job that do not fit
- Dovetail with revised company goals
- See what may be necessary but currently missing from your job
- Clarify communication in your work team and beyond
- Ensure you and your boss/board agree on how you should be spending your time
- Highlight your value to the company
Get clear on what is yours to do right now, and what is not
During the first six months of the pandemic, many teams went into “all hands on deck!” mode. If you were able to do the thing, even if it wasn’t part of your job, you picked it up. If you had a few more hours than a colleague, you learned how to do xyz and have been doing it since.
This fall, it’s time to take a breath, look around, and get a better sense of what is really yours to do, and what work is more appropriately situated with someone else at the company (or in the case of a congregation or nonprofit, perhaps even with a volunteer).
Re-evaluate what the most important parts of your job are
One of my direct reports is a Choir Director and leader of congregational song. About .2 of her job description are things that can actually happen during the global COVID pandemic. The most important parts of her job are no longer conducting in-person rehearsals and choosing music people love to sing along with. Her job description now needs to reflect the continuing value she has in our organization: editing video, support and care for members, and learning/imagining how music will be part of this strange time.
Know what to set down
In all jobs, over time more tasks get added. This has been dramatically increased in the pandemic. Many people get to the point that they’re unable to do all their tasks well. It is important not simply to do the most urgent tasks. There is real value in keeping focused on what is most important, rather than what is simply right there in front of you.
A current job description will help you discern how you need to be focusing your time today, not how your organization needed someone in your position to do things years ago.
Get clear on the new parts of your job
How are you spending your time this week? For me, I’m now spending a ginormous amount of time managing technology: setting up Zoom meetings for myself and others, creating content, managing mailing lists, etc. None of this was in my job description.
My job description should clearly name these new tasks and their prioritization within my workload.
Renegotiate parts of your job that do not fit
I am terrible at keeping track of revisions, decisions, and much of the minutiae of life. I picked some of this up during the pandemic, but now that I am taking a moment to reflect on my job description, I am able to take this work off my plate and put it in a more appropriate place in our organization.
Dovetail with revised company goals
A good job description will reflect your importance to the organization and its mission. If your group has revised their goals this year in light of the pandemic, make sure your job description reflects your value in reaching these goals.
If your organization has not revised their goals, update your job description to help readers see how your job is crucial to attaining company goals– perhaps in new ways.
See what may be necessary but missing from your job
When you take some time to step back and look at the big picture, you or your organization may notice there are important things missing from the overall structure or from your job in particular. Mindfully adding these components in will may prevent panic down the road. What do you need to be doing now so that you and your organization are ready for your work in the next couple of years?
Clarify communication in your work team and beyond
When everyone on your team shares their current, accurate job description, things run much more smoothly. Everyone knows who does what, and if there are new work pieces, it is easy for the team to see where it belongs.
Updating job descriptions is a great time to untangle some of the rub between teammates. Clarify expectations, deadlines and roles. Make the implicit explicit.
Ensure you and your boss/board agree on how you should be spending your time
One of the most important reasons to have a current, accurate job description is so that you and your boss or board can agree on your job duties and their value to the organization. When you agree on how you should be spending your time, and you spend your time that way, it will be clear to all that you are doing your job, and doing it well.
Highlight your value to the company
Make sure your boss or board knows how you spend your time, and that they see the value your position has in the organization. A current, accurate job description that points to how your duties support and fulfill the goals of the organization will ensure your boss or board understands your value.
Schedule Time Now
Go ahead and block out an hour or two on your calendar to review and revise your job description. Set a meeting with your boss to get clear on what is yours and what is not. Clarify your value to the company. Clarity is worth the time.