Job descriptions as a system of responsibilities

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I’ve occasionally been asked to write new job descriptions for new producer roles, or rewrite descriptions for existing roles. When given this task, the first thing I usually ask is whether if I can have access to the current job descriptions of the other roles in the company (or the sub-team if it’s a big company).

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to write a job description for one role without reference to the responsibilities of other roles that interact with it. The purpose of job descriptions is not just so that each individual knows what is their responsibility, but also to make sure that all the tasks that need to be covered for the company to function are covered by someone. Thus, as you’re adding or removing duties from a job, it’s important to think about how those changes impact other roles or the company as a whole —

  • If a task is being removed from one job description, is it being reallocated to another one, or is the task no longer required, or is it now left hanging with no owner?
  • Are there duties that more than one role is responsible for? If so, is it clear how this responsibility should be shared?
  • If there are duties being added to one particular job description, are there corresponding duties that need to be added to other ones?

Job descriptions don’t make sense on their own — they need to relate to each other to truly reflect the roles because no person on any team works in isolation.

Also published on Medium.

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