Editors Note: This is a guest post written by Michael O’Connell, a facilitator and mentor with 20 years private sector experience. His opinions are his own.
Whether you are replacing an existing employee or hiring an additional one, the overriding objective is to not only maintain but improve outcomes within your business. In addition to this all PCBU’s (read employers) have a legal obligation to comply with work health and safety standards.
It is a wise investment therefore, to ensure that before you employ that next person, you take the time to review (or in many cases construct) your organisational chart and all job descriptions.
If you haven’t just groaned and hit the delete button (I fully concur that this is a pretty dry subject) let’s briefly review the how’s and why’s.
As a broad generalisation, within smaller businesses, people are allocated tasks on an as needs basis, so that often someone who was initially employed at a given level of seniority and therefore a particular skill set, ends up doing a bunch of other non-related “stuff”. When, at some point in the history of the business an Organisational Chart was created, it listed the people in seniority and then attempted to list all the jobs each person would do. Typically, as the business progressed this same formula has been applied, often with the outcome that some allied tasks/responsibilities are now split over different employees while other tasks become orphans, so tend to lay dormant until someone decides they have some urgency.
Sound familiar ?
A more productive approach is to take a blank canvas and draw boxes across the page that simply identifies the main tasks / areas of responsibility within the business.
In a simple case this may be ‘administration’, ‘accounting’, ‘sales’ and ‘production’.
Then allocate an appropriate employee name to each box. Immediately you have allocated areas of responsibility and accountability to these general functions. Directly under each of these boxes draw boxes that group associated tasks. If you believe that there is obviously more than 38 hours work for any one box then you need to draw another box under it. Finally list all the tasks for each box and low and behold you now have a basic job description for each box (task group).
Only once you are satisfied all tasks are accounted for and have been sensibly grouped, begin to allocate employee names to the boxes, noting that you may and in fact probably will, have the same person appear in more than 1 box.
From this one piece of paper (I prefer a good old fashioned whiteboard for the first couple of drafts) you are able to more objectively determine where the bottle necks exist and which boxes are overloaded. You may elect to add another box to one or more of the departments and reassign some responsibilities so that the proposed new employee fits within one box or, you may have them support a couple of boxes. In doing so you are automatically making the decision whether you need a specialist or, a generalist, senior or junior position.
Apart from being able to build a more accurate profile of the perfect candidate you are better able to determine a rate of pay and begin to prepare an induction process that not only meets your WHS compliance obligations but, also assists ensure the new employee becomes productive in the shortest possible time. But that is a whole other story.
The outstanding “why” (plan ahead) is actually astoundingly simple – Embed the above process within your business model and it pays ! It really does.
Michael O’Connell is a facilitator and mentor with 20 years private sector experience assisting companies optimize performance, prepare for and implement succession planning and trade sale exits. He holds a Business Brokers Licence, Advanced Diploma of OHS, Dip in Training & Assessment Systems, Cert IV Financial Services and he is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
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