Job Descriptions and Performance Expectations: The Key to Team Success Posted on January 19, 2023 (June 1, 2023) by Laura Morgan “Nothing is true until it is written” Job descriptions and performance expectations are essential for successful teams. They are the foundation for clear communication, effective collaboration, and achieving results. When everyone on the team knows their job and expectations, each team member is empowered to work together to accomplish their goals. By publishing job descriptions and setting clear performance expectations, teams have the clarity and structure to navigate any situation, stay on track, and work together to reach their desired outcomes. With clear job descriptions and performance expectations, teams can focus on what’s important and avoid the distractions that lead to inefficiency and unproductive behavior. When teams can focus on the tasks, they can reach their highest potential and succeed. What are job descriptions and performance expectations? Job descriptions list the main features of a specific job. The description typically includes the person’s primary duties, responsibilities, and working conditions. It also consists of the job title and to whom the person holding that job has to report. Performance expectations, i.e., goals, are detailed and specific accounts of what each person on the team is responsible for within a set time. Performance expectations are targets for how each person on the team will fulfill their responsibilities. Performance expectations and job descriptions provide the specificity necessary to guide team members toward success. Why are job descriptions and performance expectations important? Job descriptions and performance expectations are important because they are the foundation of clear communication, collaboration, and achieving results. When everyone on the team knows their job responsibilities and performance expectations, they are empowered to work together to accomplish their goals. By setting clear job descriptions and performance expectations, teams have the clarity and structure to navigate any situation, stay on track, and work together to reach their desired outcomes. How to set job definitions and performance expectations To set job definitions and expectations, start by evaluating your current team. What are the needs of the team? What types of skills and experiences are needed? What is each person currently doing? Once you have a clear picture of your current team, you can set core job responsibilities. There are three steps to set job definitions and expectations: 1. Identify the core purpose of the job 2. Determine the job requirements 3. Outline the job expectations. The core purpose of the job determines why the job exists. The job requirements are the skills, experiences, and knowledge needed. The performance expectations outline what the person will do on the job. To set clear performance expectations, you can use the R.I.C.E. method: (R)eview the current job description. (I)dentify the gaps between your current performance levels and what you want to do in the future. (C)reate new performance expectations to close the gaps. (E)nergize your team to achieve the performance expectations. Benefits of clear job descriptions and performance expectations When everyone on the team understands their job description and performance expectations, they can work together to accomplish their goals. When team members know their roles and the expectations of their roles, they can focus their efforts on the tasks at hand. When team members can focus on their work, they can reach their highest potential and succeed. When team members understand each other’s roles and expectations, they can ask questions, offer help, and be supportive by sharing information as needed. In turn, with complete transparency and understanding of the job descriptions and performance expectations, teams can avoid the inefficiencies that arise from unclear expectations. Common challenges when setting job definitions and expectations Documenting job descriptions and setting clear performance expectations is critical to team management. However, it is important to know common challenges when setting job definitions and expectations. Team members may feel disempowered if their job is too narrowly defined or performance expectations are too high. Conversely, team members may feel their job needs to be narrower if the job description needs to be more specific. If performance expectations are not discussed and agreed upon, there may be a lack of clarity around expectations. Confusion may increase with unclear and undocumented performance expectations and undocumented job descriptions. Examples of job descriptions and performance expectations Sales Manager: In the job description, the core purpose of this job is to drive revenue and meet sales goals. The job requires the manager to be skilled in sales, marketing, and operations and that the manager calls sales prospects, meets with clients, and manages sales reps. The performance expectations are that the sales manager travels with each direct report at least monthly, updates the CRM daily, and ensures each direct report achieves its respective sales target. Tools for managing performance expectations As your team and work environment change, you must revisit and revise your job descriptions and performance expectations. Job descriptions must be monitored and maintained because they are the foundation of clear communication, collaboration, and achieving results. There are resources available to help companies maintain their job descriptions. Companies can maintain performance expectations using various tools, such as collaborative software, organizational tools, and productivity tools. Collaborative software can outline job descriptions, allowing team members to edit job descriptions and expectations and see the changes in real time. Companies can also use organizational tools like H.R. systems to outline performance expectations. Productivity tools, like goal-setting and tracking apps, can also be used to write down and track performance expectations. When job descriptions and performance expectations are maintained, teams can adapt and be resilient in any situation. With updated job and performance documentation, companies can help teams solve problems and respond to challenges in ways that promote collaboration and engagement. About the Author: Laura Morgan As a founder and owner of MorganHR, Inc., Laura Morgan has been helping organizations to identify and solve their business problems through the use of innovative HR programs and technology for more than 30 years. Known as a hands-on, people-first HR leader, Laura specializes in the design and implementation of compensation programs as well as programs that support excellence in the areas of performance management, equity, wellness, and more.