Paul Morse, president of Morse Constructions, in Somerville, Mass., is intent on improving his company to run with greater efficiency, more productivity, and consistent profitability. He knows that his employees are the people who will make this happen, so he recently turned his attention to improving a basic document used by companies worldwide: the job description.
“We have revamped all of our job descriptions, which tended to be a list of a bunch of tasks,and turned them into 'position contracts,'” Morse says. “The position contract concept came from the EMyth system and is intended to help each person in the organization understand how their work affects the company as a whole and how they contribute to reaching our overarching company goals.”
Position contracts include a number of elements one doesn’t usually see on a job description, including the characteristics, skills, and qualities needed for each position. For example, here are the characteristics listed on the production manager contract :
Thorough decision-making skills
Ability to develop, direct, and mentor
The results statement identifies the position's overall goal. An example from Morse’s production manager position contract:
To assist in the acquisition and retention of long-term, quality clients through the development and implementation of production systems in accordance with our marketing message and contractual obligations, so that client’s expectations are met or exceeded.
This portion of the document explains the reporting structure — who the person in the position reports to and who reports to the person in this position and the results expected from this reportee. This is augmented by an organizational chart that visually shows the company hierarchy.
This is the portion that most closely resembles the traditional "job description"including lists of tasks and responsibilities. Morse divides the work listing into the various roles that the person in a particular position might play.
In the production manager’s position contract, the work listing is divided into several roles: production team leader; project developer; client liaison.
Tactics under each of these divisions are then broken into "strategic tasks" and "tactical tasks." “Tactical tasks are the everyday tasks that one would expect to be completed,” Morse says. “Strategic tasks inevitably link to system development — something we all know is vitally important to building a successful company.”
An example of a strategic task would be: “Establish and maintain a routine pre-construction procedure using identified checklists on each project.”
A tactical task would be similar to this: “Conduct job analysis with team at the conclusion of each project to identify successes and opportunities for improvement.”
Lastly, the position contract includes measurable metrics for each position. When developing the position contract for a project developer position, Morse included these key metrics, among others:
1) Produce project development scope of work and budget within two weeks of receipt from salesperson.
2) Produce contract scope of work, detailed specifications, and budget within a) four weeks for projects under $75,000; b) eight weeks for projects between $75,000 and $250,000; and c) 12 weeks for all projects larger than $250,000.
All project development estimates within 5% of final contract budget, all contract budgets produced within 3% of projected budget.
There is no room for misinterpretation with these clear, measurable expectations. Since creating the position contracts, Morse says, “Everyone is now focused on the big picture for the company. They’re not stuck in the typical narrow mindset that we used to see. It’s created a new way for us all to think about the company and how we work together.” —Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage.
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