Performance Planning

There are two key elements which are essential to ensuring effective communication of expectations. These are: accurate and current position descriptions and ongoing two-way communication between the supervisor and the staff member.

Position Descriptions

Position descriptions form the foundation for several important areas of human resource management including:

  • Planning: Position descriptions outline the responsibilities and objectives of a work unit to individual positions. They can help managers pinpoint staffing gaps or identify over-staffing. They are valuable in making decisions about realigning or changing organizational structures.

  • Recruiting and screening: Accurate position descriptions provide the basic information about open positions which is required to make a good match between the candidate’s qualifications and the job’s demands.

  • Orientation: Giving a newly hired staff member a position description to review, and then sitting down and discussing it together, serves as an introduction to the job and provides a framework for performance expectations.

  • Training and development: Well-written position descriptions identify the education, experience, and skills required. They can help staff members pinpoint their own growth areas, and help supervisors tailor appropriate training programs.

  • Career ladders: Accurate position descriptions are a tool in developing upward mobility programs. A study of position descriptions can reveal the relationships among certain jobs and the knowledge and skills needed to advance from one job to another.

  • Position classification: Position descriptions make it possible to identify job elements, factors and levels, which in turn makes job classification easier.

  • Performance appraisal: Position descriptions provide the link between the job and appropriate performance expectations. These performance expectations are a critical factor in evaluating staff members’ performance, determining merit pay increases and evaluating possible readiness for promotion.

A position description should give a clear picture of a position. It should provide enough detail to accurately communicate the key responsibilities of the position. In deciding which duties and responsibilities will be delegated to individual positions, the supervisor should consider the overall design of the job and the skills and motivations of staff members. Descriptions should be reviewed, by the staff member and supervisor, and revised as necessary prior to the start of the performance evaluation cycle. Descriptions serve as the primary tool for building a common understanding of job responsibilities and as the starting point for developing performance objectives and standards.

The supervisor should encourage staff member input in the process to help build staff member commitment to the job and performance level. The performance expectations (standards) for each of the functions/areas of responsibility should be realistic and measurable.

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