4 Steps to Prioritizing Job Responsibilities and Objectives

Implementing a more structured approach to communicating job responsibilities can enhance role clarity, prioritized responsibilities and quarterly objectives.

4 Steps to Prioritizing Job Responsibilities and Objectives

Don’t candy-coat what you want and then be disappointed when your new sales person does not deliver what you really want.

Last month we tackled the concept and realities of job role clarity. Role clarity keeps your team focused on their prime directive as their “touchstone” of decision making when the going gets tough, and most importantly, when they prioritize time management.

Let’s dig into this next level that often gets confused with a person’s role — or the part they play. They are not interchangeable concepts. What makes them different?

Role is the big picture and the who, whereas responsibilities are the detail and the what. Responsibilities in a job description often take on a life of its own, closely resembling my “honey do” jar at home. Just like that big jar, do we randomly reach in and pull out a task do to? Truth be told when pressured, I do. Do you as well with work tasks? How do you prioritize the most important tasks that support your role on the big stage and bright lights of work? Let me give you a better idea.

Based on our field craft with clients, we strongly recommend a different approach to defining, prioritizing and organizing job responsibilities. There are four steps we often recommend. Adopting a more structured approach communicates role clarity, prioritized responsibilities and quarterly objectives. First things first:

Step 1

Worth repeating, first things first, provide a short, concisely worded, very specific description of what actions, behaviors and results you expect from a person in this position. An example might be an outside sales role that is focused on self-generating leads, designs and estimates project cost, develops proposals and closes four to six new customers a month. This is an entry, experienced or advanced knowledge sales position with a competitive compensation program. Define specifically what you want the person to do as their one thing. Bring us NEW business customers once a week, every week and do that consistently well. Don’t candy-coat what you want and then be disappointed when your new sales person does not deliver what you really want. A lose-lose situation for everyone, especially your customers.

Step 2

Define and list the five to seven high priorities of this role that they must do successfully, consistently and with greater skill over time. These are the touchstone elements of success. If it a sales management position, it’s about getting the most out of each individual sales person. Second, perhaps increasing individual performance consistently every year by 13%. Separate the many administrative tasks from the truly important “must do” to be successful elements. If they consistently do the five to seven high priorities really well, 95% of the time, they will be rock stars, right?  Base performance reviews on the key priorities and these should be reviewed as expectations in 90-day intervals.

Step 3

Now bring out the honey do jar. Secondary priorities are the administrative, maintenance and company required tasks that must be completed on a regular and timely basis to run a smooth business. However, this is a new opportunity to really evaluate and answer the question, “We have always done it this way, so why change it?” Or, “Is there a better, more efficient way or person to accomplish this task?” This, at a minimum, should be an annual exercise to test processes against changing sales and technical realities. Taking time to map processes is a fundamentally sound exercise to visualize how you work as a company.

We spend a good deal of time helping clients map, evaluate and redesign their processes. Job descriptions are the best place to start and even a better place to redefine after mapping reveals new opportunities for efficiencies for the company!

Step 4

Managing by Objectives (MBO) or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) have been around a long time. Are they really used to their maximum effectiveness? Taking MBO or KPI with quarterly timelines does a couple of productive things. First it allows the supervisor and associate to mutually agree on priorities and plans to accomplish them. It drives communication, setting clear expectations, identifying support needs, and supervisor coaching strengths and challenges to drive employee engagement and retention. Employees don’t leave companies, they leave supervisors.

Rethink and relook at how you communicate responsibilities for every employee. This will help drive the company culture you want for your brand.

Next month, perhaps I will address employee engagement.

Now go and throw away those honey do jars, and it’s OK to blame it on me!

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About the Author


Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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