Are Traditional Job Descriptions Dead?

I love the art of communication. Done well, it minimizes confusion and helps people succeed in all of their relationships. That’s especially true in the workplace.

Photo: Mark Jay Scott, create of LoveYourEdge.com; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Mark Jay Scott, create of LoveYourEdge.com; Source: Courtesy Photo

I love the art of communication. Done well, it minimizes confusion and helps people succeed in all of their relationships. That’s especially true in the workplace. No one likes vague or unspoken expectations because they are confusing, unfair, and impossible to live up to.

This is why, though it may sound a bit like a boomer holdover, I’m still a huge fan of job descriptions. They are invaluable, not only for the success of any organization, but also for the success and happiness of every individual in an organization.

A good job description gives team members confidence and a solid sense of mission and purpose. And to that end, a well-written job description identifies the job by title, essential functions and requirements. It also spells out the knowledge and skills required for future hires.

If you are launching or growing a business that’s always seeking to improve and move things to next levels in perpetuity, then you need to embrace the fundamentals.


Setting Role Expectations

Every small business owner should implement job descriptions from the get-go. It’ll save you a lot of pain in the early days and especially as things grow. It’ll prevent a lot of awkward conversations.

But while I do respect the value of job descriptions, I also value the concept of intrapreneurship – entrepreneurial minded employees. I want each team member to feel the dignity of ownership in everything they do, and nothing solidifies that for an organization and the individuals that make it quite like a job description.

Each member of your team will feel more secure about their role and confident about what they contribute on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t to say a job description has the final say in duties, roles and responsibilities, but it is designed to communicate which tasks are vital parts of the building process.


Creating Job Descriptions

Unsure where to start? As a founder, I’d start by drafting my own job description. Since I don’t believe it’s expedient or effective to lead anyone where you aren’t willing to go yourself, I draft and share my job description to get the ball rolling. I have my team members use my format as a template and all they have to do is fill in the bullet points as they pertain to their unique functions.

Here are a few more reasons why job descriptions are vital to your success as an entrepreneur and the success of your business.


  • Performance measures. Job descriptions can be used to set measurable performance goals based on duties in the description.
  • Team development. You can use job descriptions and possible job promotions as incentives for team members to pursue classes, workshops, and other personal growth opportunities.
  • Limited dysfunction. There is nothing quite as dysfunctional as a team where players don’t understand the roles of the other players. I can stay in my lane knowing that others have theirs’ in focus.
  • Compensation and rewards. Job descriptions can be helpful in developing comp packages and promotion plans. They can also signal when team-wide recognition is in order.
  • Discipline. In some cases, if need be, a job description can reveal when a Team Member isn’t performing to agreed upon expectations.


Finally, flexibility is important. As things grow, roles may vary. It’s smart to create job descriptions that describe general expectations, rather than specific tasks, thereby encouraging everyone to focus on results rather than duties. A wider-range job description is easier to manage and doesn’t require modification with every minor change in duties.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Mark Jay Scott is the founder of Love Your Edge. Mark has been a writer and speaker for nearly 20 years, formerly as a radio personality for a major market FM station in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan region where he produced and hosted two weekly programs, Real Life Matters and Essential Radio; and excelled in copywriting and voiceover production for a wide variety of commercial advertisers. Mark loves to help people succeed by motivating them and showing them simple and practical ways to love and keep their productive edge in life and business. Connect with @markjayscott on Twitter.


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