Is Your Job Description Still Valid?

Every new hiring process should be seen as an opportunity for strategic re-alignment. Openly explaining what the workplace is all about in a specific company, should be a key part of the employee spec set by the Leadership Team.

Here is the usual dynamic that takes place during a job search: there is an opening in the organization and the HR Manager pursues a busy hiring manager through the corridors. The hiring manager pays little attention to the spec being provided by HR with the idea that every search is a standard routine, that what is needed is just a copy of what had been used previously. They discount the importance of refreshing the job spec for initial screening relative to the interview process.


However, in the meantime since the last search many things may have changed.  The strategy, market environment, consumer habits and customers have altered. With that comes the need to constantly re-evaluate what is needed for specific jobs.

There is an opening in the organization and the HR Manager pursues a busy hiring manager through the corridors. The hiring manager pays little attention with the idea that every search is a standard routine, that what is needed is just a copy of what had been used previously. They discount the importance of refreshing the job spec.


Every new hiring process should be seen as an opportunity for strategic re-alignment relative to the given spec. What has changed in the last two years since this role was last vacant that requires a tweaking of the given spec? There is always something. More of the same is never the answer.


Just think for instance of the  pandemic’s impact on accelerating work from home trends and how they will reshape many positions in your company, from individual contributor and entry level positions to people management roles to senior executives approaches. Relocation may have been a requirement before for remote candidates but what about now that we have re-thought our workplaces around remote work? And what about business travel? Furthermore, as our study of more than 2,000 assessed professionals, shows, more than 20% of individuals require special attention in this new environment. More of the same will not get you there. What works in a stable environment is difficult to fit a radically changed one. 

Every new hiring process should be seen as an opportunity for strategic re-alignment relative to the given spec. What has changed in the last two years since this role was last vacant that requires a tweaking of the given spec? There is always something. More of the same is never the answer.

This is especially true when looking at the hardwired capabilities needed to succeed at your company rather than specific skills or experience. More often than not, there is a different need in terms of resilience, ability to withstand pressure, innate abilities to deal with change and be agile, foster initiative and innovation throughout the organization. That different DNA is already seldom stressed and translated when drafting a job spec and requires a paramount review in light of  changing realities.


Moreover, efforts required from employees may likely change too, forcing employers and employees to make previously unseen trade offs and choices.

Our study of more than 2,000 assessed professionals, shows, more than 20% of individuals require special attention in this new environment. More of the same will not get you there. What works in a stable environment is difficult to fit a radically changed one. 


Even employees and candidates workplace preferences, what they like in the workplace and expect from it, may have altered. Failure to meet those expectations may result in lack of engagement, faltering performance or retention issues. Even more, it may create systemic issues with attracting enough, fast enough of the needed talent to grow or turnaround your company.


The impact of all these changes needs to be discussed openly at a leadership team level before action is taken on job specs. This level of strategic alignment is critical yet seldom revisited. In fact, how many times have you and your leadership team discussed what it takes to succeed in your organization? When was the last time you precisely articulated the top three “must have” hardwired capabilities for any associate to succeed in your company? 


This isn’t about discussing the experience and skills profile for a generic, headhunter driven C-suite job spec. We are talking instead of alignment around the DNA needed today to get your company strategy done. A cohesive leadership needs to move together, quickly and efficiently towards the agreed upon direction.


And while you want diversity of opinion and style, you also want a clearly aligned set of capabilities, starting at the top of your organization, shared among leaders. Integrity, managerial courage, innovation, agility or speed may be your specific company “must haves” in your new normal. They must permeate throughout the organization. 


That same approach should be followed with the specific efforts expected and required by suitable associates. This will provide the groundwork for very open and frank dialogue with candidates and employees, without hiding or avoiding what may sound not very appealing at first but will for sure generate trust long term. 


A bad (and unfortunately real) example of what should not be done is that of a management consulting HR Manager deciding not to openly tell candidates that 16 hour work days were the norm there simply because candidates would have been scared away. 


Openly explaining what the workplace is all about in a specific company, should be a key part of the employee spec set by the Leadership Team. Be honest. 


It is time for a different discussion at the top. Defining what is needed to get your next five years plan done in the new normal is the first step in your spec setting journey. Check whether everyone in your leadership team scores itself highly on the given capabilities. Is each individual’s self assessment agreed and shared with colleagues? At what level are those same capabilities required to succeed? 

A bad (and unfortunately real) example of what should not be done is that of a management consulting HR Manager deciding not to openly tell candidates that 16 hour work days were the norm there simply because candidates would have been scared away. 

Remember, this part is not about shared values but rather about what it takes in terms of being ABLE to deliver on the strategy. It is important to note that capabilities differ from values. They are our muscles and brains rather than our hearts and souls. Both play a key role albeit much more time and discussions are spent on effectively communicating values than on the abilities required to perform.


There will certainly be variances within different functions in the LT but you’ll agree, agility and the ability to adapt to a fast changing environment are a requirement for CEOs as well as CFOs or CXOs. 

It is important to note that capabilities differ from values. They are our muscles and brains rather than our hearts and souls. Both play a key role albeit much more time and discussions are spent on effectively communicating values than on the abilities required to perform.


Setting the top executive team spec together, as a LT, is a powerful exercise. Companies that do that are truly progressive. And it’s not easy.

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February 2, 2021

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