Sunday, February 14, 2010


A detailed examination of jobs, while necessary, can be a demanding and threatening experience for both managers and employees, in part because job analysis can identify the difference between what currently is being performed in a job and what should be done. Job analysis involves determining what the “core” job is. This determination may require discussion with managers about the design of the job. Often the content of a job may reflect the desires and skills of the incumbent employee. For example, in one firm a woman promoted to office manager continued to spend considerable time opening and sorting the mail because she had done that duty in her old job. Yet she needed to be supervising the work of the eight clerical employees more and should have been delegating the mail duties to one of the clerks. Her manager indicated that opening and sorting mail was not one of the top five tasks of her new job, and the job description was written to reflect this. The manager also met with the employee to discuss what it meant to be a supervisor and what duties should receive more emphasis.

Job “Inflation”
Employees and managers also have some tendency to inflate the importance and significance of their jobs. Because job analysis information is used for compensation purposes, both managers and employees hope that “puffing up” their jobs will result in higher pay levels.
Titles of jobs often get inflated also, and some HR specialists believe that it is
becoming worse. Some firms give fancy titles in place of pay raises, while others do it to keep well-paid employees from leaving for “status” reasons. Some industries, such as banking and entertainment, are known for having more title inflation than others. For instance, banking and financial institutions use officer designations to enhance status. In one small Midwestern bank, an employee who had three years’ experience as a teller was “promoted” with no pay increase to Second Vice-President and Senior Customer Service Coordinator. She basically became the lead teller when her supervisor was out of the bank and now could sign a few customer-account forms.

Managerial Straitjacket
Through the information developed in a job analysis, the job description is supposed to capture the nature of a job. However, if it fails—if some portions of the job are mistakenly left out of the description—some employees may use that to limit managerial flexibility. The resulting attitude, “It’s not in my job description,” puts a straitjacket on a manager. In some organizations with unionized workforces, very restrictive job descriptions exist.
Because of such difficulties, the final statement in many job descriptions is a
miscellaneous clause, which consists of a phrase similar to “Performs other duties as needed upon request by immediate supervisor.” This statement covers unusual situations that may occur in an employee’s job. However, duties covered by this phrase cannot be considered essential functions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Also, it may be important to develop flexible work role definitions, particularly in manufacturing operations.

Current Incumbent Emphasis
As suggested earlier, it is important that a job analysis and the resulting job description and job specifications should not describe just what the person currently doing the job does and what his or her qualifications are. The person may have unique capabilities and the ability to expand the scope of the job to assume more responsibilities.
The company would have difficulty finding someone exactly like that individual if he or she left. Consequently, it is useful to focus on the core jobs and necessary KSAs by determining what the jobs would be if the current incumbents quit or were no longer available to do the jobs.

Employee Anxieties
One fear that employees may have concerns the purposes of a detailed investigation of their job. Management should explain why the job analysis is being done, because some employees may be concerned that someone must feel they have done something wrong if such a detailed look is being taken. The attitude behind such a fear might be, “As long as no one knows precisely what I am supposed to be doing, I am safe.”
Also, some employees may fear that an analysis of their jobs will put a “straitjacket” on them, limiting their creativity and flexibility by formalizing their duties. However, it does not necessarily follow that analyzing a job will limit job scope or depth. In fact, having a well-written, well-communicated job description can assist employees by clarifying what their roles are and what is expected of them. Perhaps the most effective way to handle anxieties is to involve the employees in the revision process.

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