Imagine going to a new place without being given any prior direction or instruction on how to go there. Or try to see in your mind's eye a negative print of the world's most beautiful flower garden. In the first case, it would be very hard for you to arrive on time or with your wits still intact on that particular place. In the second one, you would miss a lot of details that would allow you to enjoy the visual and sensual pleasure of what you are supposed to see. In both cases, you would have missed the mark by mile of what you wanted to accomplish.
Job descriptions are meant to present a map and picture of a particular job to the person who is charged to fulfill the tasks involved in that position. An effective job description will show the employee not only the limits of what he or she can do within the organization but also provide the framework for being productive within that limit. It should help the employee understand his or her role and scope of accountability, in relation to the overall goal of the organization. A clear job description should also present a complete dimension of all that is involved within the particular job. It should neither present an all rose-colored stage nor focus on specific dynamics and blur the rest. Such a job description can only lead to job dissatisfaction, below par performance and poor productivity. It can also cause confusion in the workplace, foster miscommunication and turn employees against each other. A job description that prevents employees from "thinking and working outside the box" is destined to lead employees to self destruction and employers to certain doom and loss of the business.
Like a good map, an effective job description gives directions towards the fulfillment of the ultimate goal of the company. While it should tell the employee where and when to turn, it still allows employees some leeway on the manner of executing such moves. It lays down the contours of the way employees should go through but it also point out the relationships of landmarks that must be reached as triggered by predefined events in the organization. Like a beautiful and colorful picture, an employee's job description should present the nuances of the relationships between managers and employees, and between employees in specific functions. An out of focus picture cannot present the exact colors and implied movement of those within the frame. Such out of focus job description as well, can cause employees to overstep their limits without being provided with recovery mechanisms for rebuilding relationships.
A well written job description can help establish the company's reputation not only among the employees but in the whole industry as well where the company is operating. It can help build a lasting relationship within the company's workforce that can be positively built outside as well. It should be treated as a dynamic albeit printed document hidden in the HR office's drawers. It is dynamic because it should evolve to reflect the changes brought about by the company's developing culture and business direction. A well-written, effective and dynamic job description allows employees to own their jobs and never use the excuse, "It's not my job" when confronted by situations where a clear and precise decision is imperative.