Some job descriptions read like an operation manual because of their length and the amount of details contained therein. While such a manual should be part of what an employee should have access to, a job description is different. An operational manual is a set of agreed procedures that will be followed in the execution of a task while a job description on the other hand should refer to the manual itself. A job description should not include all the small details of the job.
A job description is not the document for stating health and safety procedures even if the job entails task involving health and safety; a separate health and safety manual must be created for that purpose. A job description should only refer to this manual when needed.
An effective job description should state the responsibilities of the position and not the individual tasks that need to be performed. Individual tasks should be grouped into particular areas of responsibilities.
Such responsibilities include communicating - what, to whom, and how it is carried out; managing information; monitoring and reporting of work flow process, planning and organizing business related activities.
Most tasks can be clustered into broader but still specific responsibilities. The level of authority that comes with a position will affect the scope of responsibility for establishing the needed strategy, in making decisions, in organizing and managing other employees. As mentioned above, when needed, the task details and processes must be referred to the operational manual instead of writing them into the job description which should reflect the roles of the employee at the moment. It is essential that the particular job must be doable from the employee and management's point of views.
Job descriptions are meant to improve a company's management of its people and their specific roles within the organization. Not everybody will have the same expectations of the same job so a well-written job description must clarify these expectations while providing a clear picture of the roles the employee must perform. To be effective, a job must provide the framework and discipline needed as basis for all jobs and make sure that all the necessary processes and activities are covered but not overlapping each other. It should give a factual and verifiable situation as vied by the employees and managers as well. A job description must present an objective and neutral points of reference when used as a tool for job performance reviews, appraisals and even job counseling.
The best job descriptions avoid wordiness. It should be written with simple language. Readers should not need a dictionary to know what the job description is trying to say. There is no need for high sounding words which could only frustrate the prospective employee. Some job descriptions are written so beautifully on paper but when an employee tries to put them into practice, nothing works well because it was written with a poet's way of thinking and not from actual experience. The terms used must be specific and demonstrates what the job actually involved without being too detailed.