Are Your Employees Clear or Confused?

December 7th, 2010 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

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Companies often have employees filling multiple roles. Without careful management of the resources there can be gaps or overlaps in duties. I like to perform an exercise with the employees to create Functional Job Descriptions for them.

Functional Job Description Exercise

I have the employees complete the following Fields:

Title: (Your job title)

Basic Function: (One or two sentences on why the job exists.)

Reporting: (Who you report to and who reports to you.)

I report to:

The people who report to me are:

You have authority to: (List areas or specifics of authority.)

You are responsible for: (List all matters for which you are responsible.)

Principle Duties:
Your principle duties are to: (List, using action verbs – create, manage, supervise, etc.)

Additions to Principle Duties: (List new duties you feel you will take on in the next 12 months. Indicate in what month the duty will start. Use action verbs – create, manage, supervise, etc.)

Deletions to Principle Duties: (List duties you feel you stop doing in the next 12 months. Indicate in what month the duty will stop. Use action verbs – create, manage, supervise, etc.)

Standards & Measures of Performance:
Your performance will be evaluated periodically on the following: (List specific measures of performance. Make measures objective not subjective).

What training, education or experiences do you need to do your job better?
List the item, who will give or where you will receive the training, education or experience and the time when it should be completed.
What Who/Where When

Experience Has Shown
In my experience, companies have better facilitated work by clearly enumerating job duties and how employees will be measured against their objectives. A further benefit is a jumping off point in creating a Training and Development plan for the next year.

The Takeaway
Employees can best perform their job when their objectives are clear and measurable.

Those are my thoughts. Over to you. Please comment below.
1. Do you or your clients utilize written job descriptions and objectives?
2. Do you or your clients establish training and development plans for employees?
3. How will you change your approach to job duties for your employees?

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  1. Thanks so much for this post Rob. As I am expanding I need tools like this one. It’s a great idea to have your employee fill it out first and then go over it. I’m bookmarking your page for future use.

  2. Agree with you Rob. People need to be clear about what they are doing. Out of interest do you get a lot of consulting assignments where you need to find out if the company’s employees are clear or confused?

    • Rob Berman says:


      What I find is that some organizations do not know what they do not know. Many do not have formal job descriptions or expectations. That does lead to confusion about who does what and who is responsible for what.


  3. Jim Lindsey CSP, ARM, CWCA says:

    1. Do you or your clients utilize written job descriptions and objectives?
    * I have had marginal success. I like to intergrate job hazard analysis (JHA’s) component too… nice for compliance with OSHA’s PPE program too.

    2. Do you or your clients establish training and development plans for employees?
    *With the JHA component, initial instructions and the salient training providing the necessary three components: what is the job, how is it to be completed, and why does it need to be completed as trained eliminates many potential “human errors”.

    3. How will you change your approach to job duties for your employees?
    * Not sure the point here?

    • Rob Berman says:


      Thanks for answering the three questions. For the third question, I was curious if the reader would adjust what they did after considering their approach.


  4. Great list, Rob. It’s been a year since I worked in an office. I’ve been on my own since, but this is a very useful tool. Too many people did things outside their job description, but many didn’t say anything for fear of losing their job for not looking like a team player. It’s kind crummy for people to feel like that, but those are the times we live in. On the other hand, when under review, it would be great for employers to read the job description and realize how much the employee is doing extra.

    • Rob Berman says:


      Larger organizations tend to have job descriptions and perhaps objectives and development plans. In my experience, many of them are not worth much since they are looked at only at review time. The employee is surprised that he did not do what the supervisor wanted. Many of us have been faced with doing the right thing versus what our job description says we are to do.


  5. Susan Oakes says:

    Good outline Rob. Having worked in companies with and without descriptions it definitely makes it easier for eveyone to be clear about their roles.

    Also if you do not have the standards it is impossible to track their progress.

  6. Rob, Once again, your set of questions are excellent in promoting communication which can lead to enhanced relationships. My clients are not the typical “company” but parents who lead family units. In a world where parents seem to be “going through the motions”, questions such as the above can only help them to get bearings. I’m going to try these out with some of my clients to see how husband and wife can better balance their roles.

  7. If people don’t what their jobs are how can they be evaluated on their performance? This is the conundrum facing companies. Most employees don’t know what their jobs are! And job descriptions are different depending on the level in the organization — the CEO’s could be one line: enhance stock value and ensure positive cash flow. A clerk’s job description will be task oriented: open the mail, filing, etc. That’s why it’s so important to have clear job descriptions that are agreed upon by both employer and employee.

    • Rob Berman says:


      You are right about clear job descriptions. That is why I do this exercise with people. There is not clarity before the exercise. I have had jobs that came down to 3 numbers: revenue, profit and hitting expense budget. The rest was just commentary.


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