A Rose by Any Other Name

A Rose by Any Other Name?

Job description?

Job prescription?

Position contract?

In The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber calls the bit of writing that describes the relationship between the business, its results, and the people who do the work as a “position contract” (p. 174).  It may have once been a good label, although the term hasn’t caught on in the industry and Google equates it with “contract position,” an entirely different animal.  Gerber says that a “position contract” is a summary of the results to be created in a position, the work to be done, and the standards by which the work will be measured.

(In addition, using the word “contract” around content that is more commonly thought of as a “job description” today might hint of “implied contract.”  You’re probably better off staying well away from any casual use of “Contract” without talking to your lawyer.)

Job descriptions

Traditionally, job descriptions are written to identify the tasks that a worker will perform in a particular job.  In addition, job descriptions identify mandatory training, certifications, and education.

Job prescriptions are written about outcomes, rather than tasks.  When writing a job prescription, you are trying to answer the question, “What do you want to have happen as a result of someone (other than you) performing a job?”

In the beginning, it may be all you can do to lay out the basics for a job:  what needs to be done, and what specific certifications, licenses, or education will the candidate need in order to do that work?

As your business grows and you become more comfortable with hiring, think about the outcomes and results you’d like to see from each position.  Your job descriptions may turn into job prescriptions.  They’ll become more interesting, and attract a different type of worker.

Are you writing job descriptions, or prescriptions, or something else entirely?  Let me know in the comments!  thx