a case study in job description
March 6, 1997


This document involves an organisation to which I was exposed, and details a problem that they needed to resolve. This document describes my assessment of the situation, and my proposed response. The document suggests resolving the problem with communication, and ultimately with job satisfaction.


Various interpersonal problems have been reported including verbal exchanges, some of which have suggested that there is concern that one employee is using the fact that there are no formal job descriptions to sieze responsibility, at the expense of the other employee. As concern mounts, competition for brownie points intensifies, with a corresponding increase in tension, innuendo, bickering and general dissatisfaction and disharmony.

These negative events have ramifications in that they reduce employee job satisfaction and staff morale, consequently increasing the incidence of turnover, absenteeism, shrinkage and sabotage, while reducing productivity. Each of these outcomes reduces the amount on the bottom line.


The employee feels threatened in her role due to conflicts with the roles of other employees. The employee's exhibited behaviour is a symptom of underlying disorganisation; it is not a problem in itself, and will fade as she becomes happier.


This underlying disorganisation is due to the lack of definition of these roles. There are no clear lines of responsibility - a formal, procedural method of sorting tasks into jobs. There is no easy way to tell who should be doing what. This uncertainty creates an environment in which employees will vie for indispensability, as they become increasingly concerned that tasks they consider their own are taken by other employees for reasons more self-interested than otherwise. This "paranoia factor" turns employees on themselves, and encourages them to hinder each other in their jobs. Conflict is created because job descriptions are not defined.



projected outcomes

more bucks; less waste; happier people; happier customers