There has been much commentary in the press in recent months about productivity, or the lack of it, in British businesses. It is recognised that poor productivity has a negative impact on businesses, and therefore depresses the economy. There are many reasons for this lack of productivity and we have previously focused (and will again) on the impact of poor people management on productivity. In this article however we wish to focus on the importance of ensuring that all employees are clear on the expectations their employer has of them and the role that they play within their organisations. It is essential that employees understand how their role fits with the Company strategy and the part they play in achieving business goals.

Without clarity of what people have to do, when they have to do it and what their decision making and other boundaries are, individual employees cannot be fully effective, nor can they achieve their full potential. This means that neither can businesses be fully effective, or achieve their potential for performance and profitability. As HR professionals we have always known this, but to see a Finance specialist recognise that clear roles and responsibilities have an impact on the bottom line was really refreshing. At last, someone from outside the HR profession recognises the importance of this!

Serena, the finance specialist, clearly recognised the financial benefits to businesses of having clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities and made a very good business case for the positive impact to the financial bottom line. Serena’s point was that unless you are crystal clear on what you want people to achieve, and most importantly why you want them to achieve it, they will not be motivated to perform to the levels that you want. In her words, it was “mission critical” for any business that wanted to do anything more than just survive.

A job or role description forms the basis of all aspects of people management. It enables the new employee at induction to understand what is expected of them. It enables the organisation to focus individuals on key tasks and responsibilities that will have the most impact on the activities of the business and it underpins all and any performance management processes. Most job descriptions are however just a list of tasks, without any focus on the scope of the role. This in many respects is the most important aspect of the job description as it describes the boundaries in which the employee must operate and their freedom to act and make decisions. It is decision making which holds back many organisations because most decision making is controlled at the top, with only a small handful of people being able to take decisions. This causes a bottleneck and can stop an organisation from being productive and efficient.

Here at CHaRM we have much experience of supporting businesses to put roles and responsibilities in place and to then properly, constructively and effectively manage performance. We are currently working with many of our clients on this exact issue. It is only by focusing employees on what they are really paid to do that businesses can increase productivity and profitability. For help with getting the most out of your employees, and making your business more productive and therefore profitable, give the HR team here at CHaRM a call and let us help you too.

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