How to Eliminate Traditional Job Descriptions

February 26, 2010, I wrote, “Traditional job descriptions are a relic of a past age when jobs didn’t evolve and people were more inclined to do what they were told.”

Hire people to be themselves

Yesterday, Stan Endicott, partner at Slingshot Group, got me fired up when he said, “Job descriptions are, most of the time, not a good way to attract great talent.”

Stan said, figure out what you really love to do and go work for an organization that wants you to do that. Write the job description after you’re hired, not before. (paraphrase)

Who before what:

When you’re looking for new team members, ask:

  1. Who dreams like we dream?
  2. Who’s angry about things we’re angry about? (Use the term, “frustrated,” if that feels safer than anger.)
  3. Who do we need, in view of our current and future context?
  4. Who fits in? (If you want more of the same.)

Hire a “who” not a tool.

Hire great people – that you trust – and throw gas on their fire. They’ll figure out what to do.

  1. Hire.
  2. Align.
  3. Establish high expectations.
  4. Provide resources.
  5. Give feedback.
  6. Affirm.
  7. Realign as conditions change.
  8. Repeat #3 through #7.

Job descriptions:

In turbulent times and evolving circumstances, organizations that take months to revise job descriptions grow obsolete.

Traditional job descriptions treat people like tools that complete tasks and fulfill duties. Typically they end with, “Other duties as assigned.” Inspiring?

Let great people write their own job description. But, be careful, they may kill themselves fulfilling it.

Vision descriptions:

Replace job descriptions with vision descriptions.

“Here’s our vision. What’s yours?”

Vision descriptions:

  1. Infuses meaning.
  2. Creates targets.
  3. Clarify focus.
  4. Fuel motivation.
  5. Transforms employment into a forward facing, passion-driven activity.

Organizations and individuals reach higher and go further
focusing on vision rather than duties and tasks.

Don’t hire people to do stuff. Hire people to be themselves.

How could organizations move toward vision descriptions?