Managers' Monday: Don't downplay job descriptions
Nothing irritates a manager more than a team member who says, "That's not my job." Other employees don't want to hear it either. So whose job is whose? It would be nice if managers could simply define all the jobs in the hospital as "do what we tell you" or "do what you know needs to be done," but it's not that simple. You need a written record of duties and expectations for team members and a way of holding them accountable. In other words, you need job descriptions.
When you sit down for an interview, walk in armed with the new, improved job description. From a legal standpoint, the job description is the single most useful way to protect your practice from charges of discrimination during the hiring process. For example, you can't ask whether an applicant is disabled, but you can present the job description that outlines the physical requirements of the job and simply ask, "Can you perform this job?"
We all want a new hire to succeed, so the job description should also prompt you to develop or enhance training programs in your hospital. You can hold employees accountable for doing their jobs only if you provided training on how to do them.
Job description tasks are also the basis for performance evaluations. They're the specific criteria you'll use to measure a team member's knowledge, performance, and behavior. One important point: Any time you revise a job description, be sure to meet with current employees in that position and review the changes. They should've been involved in creating those revisions, so follow up, let them know the outcome, and get their signatures on the revised descriptions. File these forms away as documentation of their commitment to fulfill their job in its entirety.
Catch all in the job description
A section on work context lets you describe the job's physical requirements and ensure that the candidate understands them: For example, you might say the position involves time on the phone or direct contact with clients, a lot of standing or sitting, or exposure to disease or hazardous materials. This helps you both avoid surprises when the employee is asked to perform certain duties, and can provide legal protection if you get the team member's signature at the beginning.
Good job descriptions that team members follow can help you hire, fire, evaluate team members, and smooth out the day-to-day work at your practice. "That's not my job" won't stand a chance against your well-written, new job descriptions.
Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, is president of InterFACE Veterinary HR Systems and founder of the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Practice Association (VESPA).