Why you need a Job Description

Job descriptions (sometimes called position descriptions) and affectionately known as JD’s are a must have for all private practice owners who employ or contract clinical and admin staff. In its most basic format a JD is a written statement that outlines why the job exists, who the job holder reports to, what the job holder does and how they will do it. Simple. Yet during my private practice coaching conversations I often hear that they are missing (alarmingly) from the paperwork. Yes I understand that there’s lots to do when you’re in private practice but JD’s are critical for lots of reasons.

The process of writing up a JD helps get you as the business owner, clear on the exact tasks your clinical and admin staff contractors included) need to do. Don’t forget your admin team, they are usually the glue that holds the business together. Get started by hunting up some examples of therapist, admin, book keeper JD’s, this will give you a structured template from which you can customise. Then analyse every single task that you want the person to do, all the relationships they will have and the systems they will need to follow. Keep the data job specific. Categorise and prioritise, the document is taking shape. You may like to include KPI’s or other measurables that will assist in positive performance management. Task analysis on steroids. You can do it.

A well written JD brings you the private practice owner and your staff clarity. This serves to reduce role ambiguity, minimise stress and serves to get your team humming along nicely. JD’s should be part of your business plan and your operational manual. Like everything else they need to be reviewed and updated regularly. I suggest that you review the JD’s about once a year, preferably during your team meeting in order to capture any recent changes in roles and practices. I guarantee it will generate interesting and usually positive discussion.

A succinct job description, paired with a clear person specification will help you recruit the best people. It will provide the foundation of your advert and will be issued to all serious applicants. The JD will provide the basis of most of the interview questions you ask. Hmm I should write about interview questions sometime soon. PS. Be concerned if you aren’t hearing interviewee questions based on the JD you have provided them prior.

In addition the job description provides the foundation for your performance management policy and procedures. The JD is a great document to check-in on during clinical supervision and performance reviews. Should disciplinary action be needed or disputes arise it will be one of the first documents referred to and discussed. It will highlight areas of professional strength and weakness and appropriate plans can be put in place. It will also help identify issues associated with the team members straying (by agreement or otherwise) from their jobs core tasks. If a staff member is keen to progress then the JD for the next grade can be used as a guide of “where we need to be” and professional development bridges implemented. There may be great value working all this through with your private practice coach, a sounding board can be really helpful.

The JD also provides the basis for measuring job performance and pay review. Pay scales and grading need to be clearly identified through all job description documents. It will be necessary to identify the State/Federal Employment Award or Contractor arrangement by which they will be engaged. No grey areas here, it is vital to get clear and confident on these issues. If you are unsure check in with your legal advisor and accountant.

To bring it all down to one sentence, a JD will help you get the right person, doing the right thing in the right way at the right time. Ultimately this eases your management demands, supports your staff and serves your clients brilliantly.

What will be your next step?

This article was taken from the June Edition of Paeds Biz

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