Some Assembly Required

Lots of things happened in 2004. The final episode of Friends aired on NBC; Ronald Reagan died at the age of 93; a little company named Facebook was launched in Cambridge.

And, the newsletter below was published in December of that year. It remains one of my personal favorites, as I happily recall my dad and brother. It is also one that many readers commented on, so it seems like a good time to share it with you again!

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a holiday season that is merry and bright. May 2018 bring calm and peace to us all-and lots of prosperity too!

Train Photo

I discovered there was no Santa the Christmas Eve when I was six. Thinking that my older sister, brother and I had finally fallen asleep with “visions of sugarplums” in our heads, my father proceeded to try to assemble a Lionel train set – my brother’s only Christmas wish! I awoke to sounds of “extreme frustration” and made my way to the top of the stairs. Although my older sister immediately followed and stuck her fingers in my ears, the jig was up. Santa really could not have said all of those naughty words, could he?

I know managers who feel the same sense of frustration when they attempt to “assemble” a job description. This is especially true if the position you are filling is a new one for your company. Where do you start?

START WITH THE END IN MIND

If you don’t know what success will look like in the position you are hiring for, how will you be able to identify the right person for the job? A good job description goes a long way towards identifying the right candidate and shortening your hiring cycle!

Ask yourself this important question, “If everything is going great in this job, what will be happening?” Then, proceed to answer it! Your answer to that question will be the framework for your description.

Here’s an example:

  • Achieve an annual quota of $2.5 million while adding two new logos per quarter
  • Maintain a sales pipeline with a minimum of 200 qualified prospects while adding 30 new prospects per quarter
  • Design and maintain an effective web-based lead generation program
  • In first 90 days, evaluate the current product marketing team, make necessary changes and create a plan for two product launches
  • Set up semi-annual visits to major accounts and channel partners
  • Create website re-design and implement tracking program for constant improvement

You get the point. Your job description should have very specific and measurable objectives. List all the “deliverables” of the job. I’ve seen job descriptions that are a half-page and some that are three pages.

GET YOUR TEAM IN SYNC

If the job is one that will be interfacing with others in your company, make sure everyone who the position “touches” is involved in shaping the job description, or at the very least signing off on it. You should all be on the same page as far as what has to be done, when it has to be done and who is responsible for doing it. During the hiring process is not the time to hammer out these issues – do it while you are crafting the job description

USE IT TO INTERVIEW

You can take the guesswork out of interviewing by using your job description. Compare your candidate’s qualifications against what has to be done – those specific, measurable results to be achieved within a certain time frame. Either they’ve done it or they haven’t – or everything they have done in their past tells you they can reach the stated goals of the position. When interviewing, ask your candidates for specifics on how they reached their goals.

USE IT AS A PERFORMANCE TOOL

Yes, that’s right! A good job description should be so detailed that you can use it to review your new employee after six months, one year, or whenever. If you have stated the goals up front, measuring the results is easy. Use your job description as a road map for your new employee to track their performance and keep improving their results!

By the way, my father did get the train together after all – a perfect figure eight in the middle of the living room. And those train cars never derailed. It was the best Christmas my brother ever had! As for me, I never looked at fat men with white beards the same way again!

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