A New Approach to Writing Job Descriptions | Harvard Business Review

Talent Acquisition

Job descriptions are a foundational component of many talent practices, such as workforce planning, recruitment, hiring, performance management, compensation, and career development. However, as work continues to evolve quickly and becomes less predictable, there is a growing realization that traditional job descriptions present limitations for organizations’ talent management. This article shares three emerging and flexible approaches to job descriptions: 1) Outcome-Focused Role Descriptions, focusing on desired outcomes for a role rather than specific tasks or duties. 2) Skills-Focused Role Descriptions, emphasizing an employee’s skills and capabilities, allowing for dynamic application of those skills within various company projects. 3) Team-Based Role Descriptions, wherein employees are grouped into teams with collective goals, outcomes, and deliverables. The article also addresses challenges in implementing these flexible approaches, including unclear expectations, legal compliance, recruitment, and performance evaluation. While traditional job descriptions are unlikely to go away any time soon, practitioners can begin to think of ways to evolve job descriptions in response to the changing nature of work. For additional ideas on organizing work beyond jobs, check out Deloitte’s 101-page report, Building Tomorrow’s Skills-Based Organization: Jobs Aren’t Working Anymore. Page 32 discusses how firms can organize work by creating broad commitments to problems to be solved, outcomes to be achieved, or new sources of value to be created.