Adapted from the book The SME Handbook written by Brian Kazungu
The duties and responsibilities that are assigned to an individual are so critical in determining the success or failure of an organization must be clearly defined so that individuals can find it easier to deliver on what is expected of them.
In this regard the first thing to highlight is the defining of who (the person), does what (the responsibility) and how (the procedure) so that this issue of duties becomes clear for everyone to see.
In some circumstances these duties are not clearly defined to the extent that a certain task can be the responsibility of many people in a given enterprise.
Those tasks that fall within the jurisdiction of many people are the ones that can sow discord in an organization since it makes it difficult to monitor progress and to manage these individuals effectively when they cannot be individually associated with a given task.
You must make sure that you define what a specific individual with a specific title should do and if needs be, what that individual should not do must be highlighted as well.
I would like to advise you to stop the practice of copying and pasting duties and responsibilities from other companies into your own unless you believe that your companies are approximately the same size and are involved in the same nature of business.
The duties of an IT Manager, Buyer etc. in one organization might not be exactly the same compared to those undertaken by the people with the same title in another company.
Therefore based on this reasoning, care must be exercised in order to avoid evaluating a person’s effectiveness using a wrong scale.
A person’s effectiveness and relevance in an organization can be measured against what is written down as the expected results from the activities of such an individual.
Such key result areas must be set having considered a number of variable determinants such as resources necessary for the smooth execution of duty.
Clearly defined duties determine the time tables and relevant schedules that are necessary for effective communication and good service delivery which in turn gives customers and other stakeholders the correct feedback that enables them to plan effectively as well.
In some organizations, roles and titles are not accompanied by clearly written down duties and responsibilities and therefore the effectiveness of an individual employee is only at the mercy, emotions, sentiments and mood of his or her superior.
Under such an environment a person can be promoted at work but unfortunately the individual will not perform very well until or unless he or she is told the exact duties that must be carried out and be given the authority to do it.
You must bear in mind that organizational success hinges on the smooth working together of different individuals and departments and this can only be achieved when what is expected from every of these individuals and departments is clearly defined.
The inefficiency of one department or individual can affect the result of either the whole company or the other people and departments as well and therefore to avoid such issues duties must be made clear in order to promote easy monitoring and evaluation.
Please note that the defining of these duties and responsibilities is done by drafting a job description. As the name implies, a job description clearly shows what a person in an organization must do in order for the company to achieve its set objectives.
This automatically becomes a mechanism to monitor and audit activities and thus making it easier for non-performers to be noticed so that the corrective action can be taken either in the form of staff developments or even dismissal when the situation calls for it.
In the event that there is non-performance while duties are clearly defined and lines of communication as well as an organizational structure are in place, it therefore means that there is need for a general organizational system overhaul.
An organizational system overhaul calls for the redefining of a mission statement, company policy and the set duties because in some circumstances these might be self-contradictory and thus must be remodeled to suit the commercial reality.
The way the duties are defined in one organization might not be effectively relevant to your organization even if the titles of the individuals involved are the same as has been highlighted before.
When the duties are not realistic, they are likely to undermine the achievement of the set goals in the same way when the set goals are not realistic they are likely to interfere with the effectiveness of the defined duties and responsibilities.
There is need for a continued review of these issues in order for your business to remain relevant or rather for it to be at all relevant for that matter.
Clearly defined duties can act as a ‘firewall’ against corruption and inefficiency because every individual knows that the consequences of every action are attributable to someone and therefore failure in one’s area can only be attributed to the respective specific individual.
However in most SMEs, roles and duties are verbally communicated and thus no records are in place for checks and balances.
Brian Kazungu is a Christian, Media Practitioner, IT Administrator, Entrepreneur, an Opinion Leader and a Contemporary Philosopher.
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