The Right Fit: Making Job Descriptions Work for You

Oct. 18, 2023
Help your team members clearly understand expectations using these helpful tools.

How many of you have had an issue with an employee who’s just not performing up to your expectations? Chances are, you’re nodding your head in agreement. Well, do they know what your expectations are and how they’re being measured?  

Dwayne Myers, co-owner and managing partner of Dynamic Automotive, a six-location powerhouse in Maryland, had a eureka moment after conducting performance reviews. He had a staff member who just wasn’t performing the way Myers hoped. During a conversation with human resources, he realized that it wasn’t, as he thought, “common sense,” what this staff member should be doing.  

“It was pointed out to us that we were trying to discipline someone when they didn’t know what’s right and wrong,” Myers says.  

He needed to spell it out in the form of a job description.  

Myers and Ben Nielsen, owner of the seven locations of Ben Nielsen’s Skyline Automotive in Virginia, have job descriptions for every position within their organization. Not only do they help set expectations, but they are also useful for growing the company and are handy in preventing liability in the extreme case that an employee needs to be terminated and you need to back up your reasoning. It also helps with retention and creating improvement plans for staff.  

Job descriptions may seem like as Myers once thought “common sense,” but they help with communicating clear expectations and setting the tone for new hires. Here are some tips for making job descriptions work for you.   

Write with Purpose 

Create the description for the job that is needed, not for the person that you are writing the job for. Nielsen says this was the biggest mistake that he made in the beginning. He wrote the job descriptions for his current staff based on the person’s strengths and the tasks that they were currently performing rather than what the position needed to be in order for the company to grow. Once he realized that, he became more purposeful. He’s grown his company to seven locations by first creating an organizational chart that shows what’s needed to be done to get to certain annual revenue goals and then, once that’s built, he puts in positions that are needed without names and then he backfills those.  

Be as In-Depth as Possible  

Myers would love to have one-page job descriptions, which he’s seen, but it’s just not realistic when you’re as detailed as he is. If you work for Myers, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, down to the noise level of the shop.  

“What’s the noise level? Why does that matter? Someone could have hearing loss and may not be able to be in that area. Some people may think it’s common sense but it’s not. It lays the whole job out. You sign it and you understand it,” Myers says.  

Myers and Nielsen’s job description include what each position is responsible for and the various duties that will need to be performed. Nielsen adds that he adds in information about his company and its mission and Myers adds critical information such as who you should report to; who, if anyone, reports to you; and pay structure.  

Lay Out Expectations Right Away  

Both Myers and Nielsen present job descriptions during new hire onboarding and can also use them during the interview process if the applicant has questions about specific duties or what the job entails.  

“If they’re curious about what the job is, you can show it to them,” Myers says.  

Presenting these right away can help cut down on hiring people who are not a right fit.   

Use to Back-Up Expectations  

During performance reviews, Myers will use his job descriptions to discuss any expectations that are not being met and will use it to create an improvement plan.  

“Nobody goes into work saying, ‘I want to screw up today,’” Myers says of staff that’s not performing up to standards. “It gets worse if it’s not addressed.”  

The job descriptions can help retain employees and get them performing to both your expectations and their own hopes for themselves as employees.  

Modify as Needed  

Job descriptions should be updated whenever needed. Myers says that his are updated yearly or if there’s a significant change, such as a new location, or a problem with the description that is brought to their attention.  

“It’s a living document and can change at any time,” Myers says of his job descriptions.  

Nielsen also updates whenever needed and says his shop’s growth has made updating the job descriptions essential. In the beginning, when it was a one-shop operation, people were wearing many hats. Now, there’s no way he could get away without spelling out expectations as it’s impossible for him to oversee his large staff.  

Whether you’re a small mom-and-pop operation, an aspiring MSO operator, or already managing multiple shops, job descriptions will communicate clear expectations for your staff and will also help potential new hires decide if your shop is right for them. It may seem like a lot of work in the beginning, but it will cut down on performance improvement meetings, bad hires, micromanaging and save time and headaches in the long run.  

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