A good system is able to thrive in uncertainty. The ideal system provides clarity, empowers people to make autonomous decisions and provides measurable feedback loops to efficiently adjust to changes in business climate, technology, and leadership.
Most job descriptions focus on the tasks that the employee is expected to complete, but the most effective job descriptions focus on what I call “outcome ownership”. When an employee clear on the outcomes they are responsible for, they will be able to focus on designing the process and determining the tasks that are required to attain the desired outcomes. Effective job descriptions focus on outcome ownership, rather than tasks.
A job description that focuses on outcome ownership answer these three questions:
- What outcome(s) is the employee responsible for?
- What authority does the employee have to attain those outcomes?
- How will the employee be kept accountable for those outcomes?
What outcome(s) is the employee responsible for?
Rather than describing the series tasks that the employee is supposed to do, focus on describing the outcome that is supposed to be achieved through the tasks. It is important to specify outcomes that can be measured.
What authority does the employee have to attain those outcomes?
Next, be clear on the kind of decisions that the employee has the authority to make. The employee has to have a control over the things that may have influence of the outcome they are responsible for.
How will the employee be kept accountable for those outcomes?
Finally, the employee needs to clearly know how the outcome he is responsible for will be measured. Whether it’s production numbers, timelines, or website analytics, or Net Promotor Scores, the employee must be clear on how they will be kept accountable for the outcomes they are responsible for.
Check out these example job descriptions.