The Ethics in Job Design & Structure

If you want a secretary, find someone whose dream is to become a secretary.

This article is mainly addressed to HR practitioners and students but is also very useful for entrepreneurs and managers.

There is a difference between a job description and a job specification, or person specification. The job description you use to offer some details to those interested, but the job specification contains all the things an HR person must be careful of.

To properly design and structure a job specification as a framework, you will have to put yourself in the employee’s shoes. That’s why some of the greatest insights come from interviewing people who work in the same position or people who have worked in this position. Understand what are the motivations of a person in doing that kind of job. To find out the motivation, put yourself these questions:

  • What’s important about this job?
  • Why is that important?
  • To what greater purpose is an excellent employee doing this job?
  • What does this job mean to this employee?
  • What does this bring you?
  • What is the outcome that will get you, as an employee, satisfied?
  • If you have what’s important for you as an employee, what will that bring you?
  • What are the positive intentions a motivated employee has towards this job?

Then think: what are the skills this person would naturally have to have, to comply with the tasks you have in mind for the specific position? Would it be possible to learn at least some of these abilities during work? Could you organize an internship, to teach people without paying them while they learn?

Designing a job is important when you think in terms of making a clear selling pitch to all those who come across it. Many start to think of words to use to impress and attract candidates. But if you think smart, you don’t need to attract candidates. That does not measure the success of a recruiting session. You want to make the future employees naturally come to you. The words will come by themselves when you put on the employee’s shoes.


Begin with the end in mind

Do you want this position’s man or woman to remain in the company? For how long? Be realistic. If you search to find someone who’s developing fast, you can count on the need for self-growth in your company. If you cannot offer and have a plan to stimulate this, you can count that person is to leave the company at a certain moment. Some corporations have the reputation of hiring people for 1-2 years, paying them less, and letting them go work for other companies after that. Examples: Groupe Societe Generale, KPMG, MacDonald’s or in Romania, Business Magazin. They have a clear-cut outcome: to keep a low cost to salaries and advertise to students and beginners, willing to be paid a fair sum, but lower than paying experts.

Think of the employees you have now and how you found them. Think of where would naturally your future employee would spend his or her term. Thinking of “candidates” is poor thinking. Use your marketing mind. Think of future employees.

This kind of thinking will spare you a lot of later work and money spent on all sorts of advertising expenses which you cannot afford to lose.


Properly structuring the job and the tasks

Each job has several tasks to be managed within a time frame. This is in most cases extrapolated, assumed, by the employer, based on wishful thinking and on the current activity. But what if all the tasks assumed by the employer to be offered to the employer actually occupy 150 % of the time (s)he is paid for? And what if your company would develop, or lose activity that would solicit that position? Think of workflow as dynamic. Actually, planning for the quantity of workflow beforehand might seem like juggling. But there are some limits to it. Doing this also allows you to give a more thorough perspective on the future employer, letting him or her know what might be expected.


Let’s say you have this structure, for an assistant manager:

Result Motivation To do item Time allotted Skills required
A. Plan a daily schedule of the manager Clear structure to follow 1. Receive requests, propositions by e-mail, phone, employees & manager. 20 ‘ Structure, organization
2. Evaluate and prioritize 10 ‘ General perspective, planning
3. Confirm the meetings 20 ‘ Detailed perspective
4. Plan the following meetings 10’ Flexible time perspective
5. Creating a “B” plan for the day 10’ Creativity
6. Cancel several meetings 15’ Public relations
7. Reporting back to the manager 5’ Briefing
B. Managing files to transfer between management and all other interested sources. Delivering Relevant Information 1. Receive all the relevant files and storing them in a classified system 15’ all over the day Computer fast working
2. Applying the criteria for selection 30’ Selecting abilities
3. Talking to the manager about the priority of documents to be read 5’ Briefing
4. Delivering the files 5’ PC skills
5. Acquiring the tasks after the manager reading the documents 10’ Taking notes

Planning the schedule for a manager is not rocket science, but it may take up to 1h 30 per day.  OK, I might have exaggerated a bit, but that is 18,75 % of the working day. Then, just processing some documents, might take up to 50 minutes. Think this time is necessary to get the job done and think it’s going out of the business owner’s pocket, as a salary to the employee, hour by hour, day by day, month by month. It would make sense to do a little planning before hiring someone who might waste your time, therefore your money, correct?

The table offers just an example for two activity families which are appropriate to an assistant manager. Do your job, do not skip this part. Be sure the person who is doing this knows what they’re doing. Usually, this is the HR manager’s job, but ultimately the manager decides who is needed, having an overview inside the organization.

Surely, all this seems like common sense. It is amazing how many people skip this because it is common sense.  You don’t have to be a genius to have results. You just have to apply this common sense.

If you think within the frames of the employee’s mind, you will know to offer their reasons, not yours. You don’t need people who search for money. You need motivated people that will get the job done. It is preferable to hire appropriate people for the job than motivating them once hired. Preselection beats training. It is more likely to get people who like what they do to do their job, who have enough inner motivation.


Marcus Victor Grant

Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, 2010-present

3 thoughts on “The Ethics in Job Design & Structure

  1. Poate pentru corporatii mari chiar asa trebuie facut, sunt multe persoane intr-un birou de HR si trebuie sa aiba obiect de activitate asa ca fac tabele de astea, f f detaliat.

    Pentru o firma mica, sau pentru un antreprenor, de la un timp, lucrand cu multi oameni, ajunge sa isi dea seama cu ce tip de om are de-a face doar cand il priveste cateva secunde, apoi ii mai pune si 2-3 intrebari si ii e clar raspunsul.


    1. Yes, Andrei. The article is especially dedicated to those working in organizations more than average sized. It is ideally for entrepreneurs and small business owners to have the skills to know a person in an instant. For them, more likely, this article might not present interest. Still, I think that there aren’t so many people having SMALL businesses by doing things this way, and if they would, and if they would hire the right people, they would become at least MEDIUM SIZED companies. Therefore, for those who were not blessed with such insightful intuition, a gram of strategy is worth a tone of practice.


  2. I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thanks again


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