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26th January 2016

Would job descriptions benefit from review?

job descriptionsIf you see your job descriptions as being stand-alone aspects of personnel management you may be missing a trick. In a truly quality based management system every part of the business is fully integrated and contributes to the overall vision.

The holistic approach

In many practices job descriptions have evolved reactively over many years, in response to the likes of regulations and practice needs. Their development has lacked reference to the bigger picture of the practice’s goals and mission. Duties have not been allocated with reference to the business's needs, or current scope of practice requirements, therefore a back to basics, holistic approach will have a great deal to offer.

Back to basics

The ‘back to basics’ approach requires the Registered Provider in their leadership role to set the goals and vision for the practice. These should define what the practice needs to achieve to fulfil its potential. The more detail involved at this stage the easier it will be to plan the measures required and eventually to measure success.

When you have quantified what you want to achieve, identify the resources available to you. The range of available resources will include material, financial and human resources. Each category will be integrated and developed with the required end results in mind. When you know what needs to be done you will be able to allocate the tasks to get the work done.

Replacing reactive development with proactive choices 

When work allocation has been created on a reactive basis, having measures in place may benefit individuals more than the business. In some cases tasks will have migrated from one person to another for reasons that made sense at the time. On this basis migration can create unbalanced workloads as one person takes an increasing number of tasks into their workload that should in fact be performed by others, but have been moved over to them by default. This is fine until something goes wrong and resentment builds and accusations of unfair practice are made. From the business's point of view it could mean that highly skilled, expensive staff are performing low skilled jobs at the expense of essential tasks.

Managing task distribution

When running appraisals, the ideal approach is to appraise the performance of each team member in line with their job description and performance targets. Begin by sending the member of staff an invitation to the appraisal meeting with a self-assessment form and a copy of their current job description. During the interview, review the tasks they are actually performing and make decisions about whether they are still the most appropriate person to perform these tasks. Take this chance to reinstate any tasks that have migrated to another person – if appropriate.

Understanding the person specification

A vital part of the job description is the person specification. Here the qualities of the ideal person for the job are specified and the incumbent can be assessed against these. More importantly, by keeping these up-to-date you will have an idea of the qualities you are looking for in future applicants for the role.

There are very many reasons why job descriptions should be quality managed. Not least because, for most dental businesses, staff costs are the biggest expense, so it’s vital to ensure that the practice is seeing a worthwhile return on its investment. This can only happen with proactive, rather than reactive management.

Glenys Bridges – QCS Expert Dental Contributor

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