Writing Job Descriptions That Get It Done

Hopefully I have convinced you that you do need job descriptions in your office. If not, review last week’s post here.

Now on to the practical advice of how to get job descriptions in place.

  • Partner with your staff members. Ask everyone to write down what they do throughout a common week and ask if there are other parts of their job that come up less often than weekly. It is important to give everyone at least a week and encourage them to have pen and paper handy throughout the week so they can write their tasks down as they go along. No one will remember all aspects of their job if you just ask them to write without doing.

  • Review the lists they give you. Do the tasks make sense for the role to which it is assigned? It is important here to remember that you are writing job descriptions for the job, not the person in the job. Just because someone has a particular skill or interest does not mean that task should be in their job description.

  • Is every task in your practice represented? You should have everything from collecting the mail to ordering office supplies to maintaining waiting room cleanliness on the list. Also, pay attention to what your office doesn’t do particularly well or consistently – you may find that it is because no one thinks it is a part of their role.

  • Start with a summary. Write a 2-3 sentence that captures the heart of what the key responsibility is for that job description.

  • Group the list of tasks into broader categories. You are not developing an operations manual or defining how a job is done, instead you are defining the types of activities to be completed by someone in the role. For example, someone at your front desk will not have separate bullet points of answer phone, schedule appointments, transfer calls to medical assistant. The broader activity is that they are to answer patient calls and handle patient requests.

  • Don’t write something like “any anything else you are asked to do” as part of the job description. This leaves too much room for interpretation. If you have written broad examples such as the one above regarding answering calls and handling patient requests, you have left room for additional duties as necessary but have still defined the broader activity of the role.

  • Roll out the new job descriptions with your staff individually. Address any concerns staff members may have and modify if necessary.

  • Review the job descriptions annually. This will give you an opportunity to address any performance concerns, provide additional training that may be necessary and ensure that as new processes and procedures are included in job descriptions.

I hope that helps a little bit with how to get job descriptions in place. It can be daunting to think of all of the things your practice does every day and try to condense all of those things to a few lists of job duties, but the exercise is worth it. It will make your office run more efficiently and will help you lead more effectively.

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