Overcoming Challenges of Job Descriptions

The experience I have, other than my studies in school, have been as the HR Director for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. This role has taught me that the areas of HR differ between government (laws) and tribal sovereignty.

The biggest challenge in job descriptions for me as the HR Director, is ensuring that job duties are not overlapping in areas where they don’t belong, or overlapping into a job title that is not the best suited for the duties assigned. This problem comes with the volume of employees we have with the tribe, our numbers are well over 300 employees, and all in different entities, areas, and lines of work (health care, housing, admin, etc.). The problem with overlapping duties is generally having more than enough hands doing the same work, making it impossible to avoid mistakes or overlooking daily work.

It is vital to include the immediate supervisors in the process of establishing and proofreading the job analysis and duties, as they are the ground workers, and the person who oversees the daily activities in their area. This can also be a challenge for HR at times. I try to update job descriptions at a minimum of once per year, but I feel as though I play the ‘waiting game’ when I am including the supervisors in this process.

I also have found that the word ‘AND’ & ‘OR’ can make a difficult grey area when establishing/analyzing a job description, and it is important to specify one or the other. This is especially pertinent to job descriptions while hiring and defining who qualifies, and who does not qualify.

If, upon review, the job description turns out to be accurate, there is an opportunity to have a discussion about whether the employee is spending time doing something that isn’t part of the job, Flewelling says. If the employee argues that his or her qualifications are much higher than what is in the job description, “that is the time to have a discussion about how the employee can move up in the organization to take better advantage of his skills or education.”

Job Worth Doing: Update Descriptions: Tyler, Kathryn; January 1, 2013
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