rule book

Rewriting the rule book: Sharon Williams shares why job descriptions should be made redundant with Smart Company

The COVID-19 crisis has led to devastation for many companies.

Getting through this, and ahead of the next stage of this economic crisis, is a survival game on a number of counts.

But the upside is, we are being provided with endless new opportunities.

It’s clear the pandemic has tested leadership in Australia in unprecedented ways.

Leaders are uniting more closely with teams than ever before.

Now is absolutely the time to revisit internal communications and staff expectations in order to stay ahead.

Your HR team is likely hard-pressed to keep up with the changes and amendments to job descriptions at this point in time.

Whether businesses are prospering or struggling, teams are being challenged to operate very differently.

I suggest moving away from how things used to be done and reviewing your team game plan.

I can still vividly recall those first few chaotic, crazy and frightening days when COVID-19 hit.

Little did I know then, that possibly forever, the job descriptions I had expensively crafted over many years to fit all governance and industry criteria would be thrown out and possibly never looked at again.

What a refreshing change.

Or is it?

From formal responsibilities to future-proofing

Teams today should not be about what’s owed, what’s been forfeited, or what they do only because it’s listed in their pre-COVID-19 job description.

Teams and their job descriptions are now about economic survival, teamwork and career protection.

Teams, large and small, are searching for a positive vision and a reason for getting up in the morning.

Why would anyone check a job description when the landscape has changed to resemble such a fast-changing battlefield? Jobs, salaries, homes, brands, proven process, and client contracts in all industry models are at stake.

If we aren’t already, we should be, as leaders, re-evaluating everything we’ve ever believed was the norm, and this premise extends to our teams.

It is a call to arms.

No industry has been left completely unaffected. Every industry has required staff to adapt, reinvent and look to what has been coined ‘the new normal’.

Teams who are going to pull their company through this, under good leadership, will forget what was listed in their job descriptions and instead look at what needs to be done.

As a collective, if leadership is communicating well, the company and its teams will buckle down to transform and get through this extraordinary and unprecedented period, and be better for it.

Results-driven team members

The new normal needs outcome- and results-driven team members.

Businesses need employees who are focused on the end-game because they are eager for themselves and the company to succeed.

They are searching actively with management to find the best, fastest and most cost-effective way forward and digging deep into reskilling each day to extend what they thought was possible and create new ways of doing things.

Gone are the silos of pre-COVID-19.

Have I ever seen that in a job description?

Not quite. Not so explicitly.

The flexible, accommodating, adaptable, resourceful, creative thinking, forward-thinking team member able to see around corners is trickier to outline in a traditional job description model.

Good team members want to be motivated, inspired, challenged and be exposed to the smartest, cleverest way of operating so they will be in the best position to establish and accelerate their career.

Surrounded by inspiring leadership, they can be trained, given ownership, provided space and freedom to innovate and create new models and new ways of delivering customer needs.

How will that look in the job descriptions of the future?

Rewriting the rule book

Traditional job descriptions will be thrown out of the window and replaced with new criteria determined to deliver speed, creativity, wisdom, design thinking, future thinking, greater outcomes, flexibility, adaptability, innovation, shareholder value, commitment and change.

Having been in business for 25 years, I have pretty much seen it all. Those in business for a long time have experience and history to call upon and will have the wisdom to take their younger teams through and onwards in the journey and build confidence to deal with quick change and creative thinking.

It doesn’t mean these new job descriptions will have no success criteria — quite the opposite.

But the descriptions of the past will certainly have to be reinvented to a much more outcomes-based and transparent new normal.

As well as being shorter! After all, we now have less time.

Culture starts from the top

This pandemic has tested leadership in unimaginable ways.

Leaders who can stay levelheaded, emphasise clarity, motivate a team, act decisively and move swiftly amid uncertainty and risk are better placed for survival and reinvention.

Transparency with your team and constant updates are going to keep them motivated and on track. This is not a time to put your head in the sand.

Even if you’re operating on full staff, normal hours and no job cuts, it’s not business as usual.

Leaders need to take a new approach to survival with a ‘no bull’ philosophy. Transparency and simplicity cut through.

Now, more than ever, it’s about promoting flexibility and repurposing team roles to keep the business afloat and keep staff in their jobs.

It’s about reskilling, encouraging cross-training and getting the team prepared and ready for the next stage of this economic battle.

As leaders we need to prepare ourselves, our businesses and our teams for the disruption and skills needed to get through this era.

Champions will emerge, way above their job descriptions.

Now is the time to avoid complacency and look forward not back at the way things used to be done.


Click here to read the full article in Smart Company.

Scroll to Top