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HR 101 – What to do when . . . There’s a Discrepancy on the Job Description – Part 1

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations & Best Practice Requirements.

How many times has one of your staff members moaned about something that you have asked them to do, by saying “it’s not on my job description”? I’m sure most of you can relate to this one, hell I’ve used it myself from time to time!

Let’s start at the very beginning – What is a Job Description? Many of the VSE (Very Small Enterprises) that I have worked with and in since I started my business seem to think that it is the description of what the employee does. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again! It is the description of the task that is performed. You see in some of the bigger Corporations, for example, the Switchboard Operator is just that – a Switchboard Operator. In this case, their duties would revolve only around what a Switchboard Operator does – answering of calls, determining who a call should be put through to, and perhaps even taking messages. In a small concern though, where people are many things, one of the duties of a person may be that of a Switchboard Operator. The Job Description remains the same, but the duties differ!

Let me be a little clearer on this. In a small concern, there may be one employee who does many jobs or functions. They may be the Switchboard Operator, the Receptionist, the Admin Clerk, and the ‘walk-in’ Salesperson. In this instance, they would have four job descriptions as opposed to one, because they would perform the duties pertaining to four different jobs.

So in the big Corporate instance – the duties listed on the Letter of Appointment, would be listed as something like “Switchboard Operator and all duties pertaining to this position as laid down in the Job Description . . .” whilst in the small concern – the duties listed on the Letter of Appointment, would be listed something like “Switchboard Operator, Receptionist, Administration Clerk, and Sales Person and all duties pertaining to these positions as laid down in their respective job descriptions . . .”

In the big Corporate’s you could have many people using one Job Description – for example you would only have one Job Description for a ‘Sales Person’, yet you have a sales force of several thousand employees. In the VSE you may have many Job Descriptions, but only a few people to perform the tasks or duties that pertain to those Job Descriptions.

Next week we will have a look at what could happen if extra duties are given to staff and the consequences thereof.