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Hiring for high perfomance

WELL-DEFINED job roles are critical to creating high performing teams, and to reducing dysfunctional turnover. Clearly defining job roles, and the competencies required to successfully perform them, before you begin recruiting can save you time, expense, and a lot of headaches later on.

Robert Half, founder of global staffing and consulting services firm Robert Half International, puts forward the following approach in his book On Hiring.

First list all the duties and responsibilities the job requires. Try to be as specific as possible. For example, rather than saying "administrative duties", list the specific tasks that need to be performed. Then group each function into one of three categories: very important, important and not so important.

Next, answer the following questions to create a job opportunity that will attract and retain employees who add value to your organisation.

Do you need somebody new to handle this job?

A job vacancy can give you an opportunity to reflect on your overall needs and perhaps make changes in the job. With most companies facing tight budget restrictions this year, reducing payroll and staff expenses is a way to save substantial amounts of money.

Consider if the functions you have described might be efficiently incorporated into a job already filled by any of the competent or high performing people on your staff. It may be possible to assign lower-level functions to an employee at a lower salary, and higher level functions to somebody with suitable skills and experience.

Is this job doable?

If you are satisfied you need a new employee, ask yourself if the job is "doable", as you have structured it. Make sure that you are not creating a job that very few people could fill.

One factor to consider is the compatibility of the tasks described. Do the responsibilities of the job conflict with another? Or, are the attributes required to perform the tasks to a high level rarely found in the same person?

Keep in mind that even if some people in your organisation currently handle incompatible functions, they have probably learned this through on-the-job experience. A new hire may not have the same skills. Think about how much time on guidance and supervision you are planning, or willing, to invest.

Review the amount of time required to perform each of the tasks and functions in the job description. Then add up the total hours. You may find that to perform all the functions listed, the employee will need to work a 60-hour week.

Who can you reasonably expect to attract to the position?

The job, as you have structured it, may not be all that exciting to good candidates. You will need to perform an honest evaluation of all the elements of the job, and your organisation's appeal as an employer.

You should take into consideration the reputation of your organisation in the market place and what you have to offer potential employees. Compare salary and opportunities in your company with those being offered by other businesses in the same or comparable industries.

Investing time to create a well-defined description of a job, including skills and attributes required for exceptional performance, will bring rewards for you as a manager, and for your whole organisation.

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Susanna Coghlan is director of training at AAA Cambodia, a strategic human resources consulting firm operating in Cambodia and Southeast Asia.  For more information, email susanna@aaacambodia.com.

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