Job analysis, or the process of analyzing an existing job and its tasks, is the first step in job design. Get tips on how you can conduct a job analysis quickly and accurately.
- Have you ever seen the movie Office Space? It's an old movie from 1999, but it's a classic. The movie takes place in a dysfunctional software company. And in one scene, some consultants are interviewing Tom, a sales guy about his job. Tom explains that he takes the specifications from customers and brings them to the software engineers. With some probing, the consultants discovered that a secretary actually does that. When pressured to explain exactly what he does, Tom cracks. It seems he doesn't really do anything.
It also seems the HR professional at Tom's company hadn't performed any job analysis. Job analysis is the process of analyzing an existing job and its tasks. It helps you understand job functions, processes, knowledge and skills needed to perform the tasks and more. So job analysis is actually the first step of job design. It helps you understand what is being done so you can then design how it will be done in a way that provides maximum efficiency and job satisfaction.
Let's look at how this might unfold. If you were the consultants in that Office Space scene, after talking to Tom, you would conduct a thorough job analysis. You might ask Tom to keep a work diary for a week. That's where you ask employees to write down what they do about every 30 minutes. You might also observe Tom and his secretary at random over a week or so. You can also interview Tom and his secretary more thoroughly and review documents related to their work. I provided a document in the exercise files to help you out with all of this.
Once you have a full understanding of Tom and his secretary's task through your job analysis, you can move into job design. For example, you might've found in your analysis that Tom has a wide range of responsibilities so he just doesn't have time to bother with customer orders. Or maybe he learned he was just bored with it and he needs something new to light his fire. So you might decide it's best the secretary continue to handle customer orders. Or maybe you invest in software to help streamline his part of the job. In any case, I think you can see how important job analysis is.
And how it informs your job design. You might also be thinking well Tom should suck it up and do his job. Why would we redesign things around him? And sure, you can go that route. But you risk that Tom becomes disengaged with his work and that leads to poor customer service. People change overtime, so it's only natural that their job responsibilities change too. And that brings me to a key point. People don't always need traditional promotions to grow. If you redesign jobs as your company and your employees grow, you can make sure both are a success.
- What is job design?
- Principles/objectives of job design
- Analyzing existing jobs
- Rotating employees through different jobs
- Enriching and enlarging jobs
- Writing job descriptions
- Overcoming challenges around job design