A friend of mine just started an important new job in Chicago as the Director
of Government Affairs for a medium-sized business. Like any of us would
be, she was very excited about her move and the new opportunity. As her
friend and an employment law attorney, can you guess what was the first
question I asked her?...
Of course, I questioned whether her employer gave her a thorough, written
job description, with enough information to ensure she would succeed at
the new job. I wanted to make sure she had a clear indication of the metrics
her performance would be critiqued and graded. Did she have an adequate
description of the daily and long-term expectations for her new career?
Further, if someone requested she change or expand her job description,
from whom should she seek confirmation?
In my friend’s case, the Company had only discussed the position
with her and placed the advertisement she had responded, which contained
a fairly elementary description of the position. I was not surprised she
was never provided a thorough, written job description prior to accepting.
Many employers do not do a good job providing information and feedback
to employees on what is really important to them, a risk to employer and employee.
One of the many reasons employees sue their employers after termination
is because they were surprised. They speculate whether it was connected
to an unlawful reason, like their gender or age, because an employer has
done a terrible job communicating regarding the essential functions of
the job and their perception the employee failed to meet them. Sometimes
other employees have given them incorrect instructions. Without thoughtful
direction, or with conflicting direction from other employees, an employee
may mistakenly believe he or she is doing a good job up until the day
the employee is terminated. This is unfortunate because often bad habits
can be corrected and hiring and training new employees is expensive.
A well-written job description, which incorporates all the essential functions
of a job, describes the process for regular evaluations, and informs the
employee of the office hierarchy is good for the employee. Job candidates
must know the essential functions of a job so that they can determine
whether they can meet them, with or without a reasonable accommodation,
and a clear job description should generally be developed and provided
to candidates prior to hiring for the position.
Further, smart employees should request and smart employers should demand
regular performance reviews, while reviewing their job descriptions, as
part of an ongoing performance evaluation, to ensure all the parties are
in like mind on how the team is performing. A 360 degree interview.
If you have an employer who has not provided you a written job description
or has never reviewed it with you as part of an employee evaluation, you
should request one. You might be surprised by what you learn.