What do these terms mean in modern Human Capital Management?

The term “Job” description is an old terminology and needs to change as “Job” refers to a piece of work.  This was OK in the days of narrow focussed task based activities rather than the broader outcome based work specifications.  The terms that seem to be emerging is “role” as the generic definition and “position” as the specific role in a structure i.e. location specific.  Take the installation of a Water Heater;  it used to involve a plumber, electrician, gas fitter (if gas) and even a brickie to put in the base.  Today it is installed by a “Water Heater Installer” or as we came across “Appliance Installation Technician”.  The outcome is in broad terms “hot water supplied”.

With an outcome based approach (which Maxumise recommends) the performance measures are integrated into role and position description (defined in role description and quantified in position description).  This then provides the link to the competence which again should be part of the position description i.e. the competence required to produce the outcomes at the standard set by the performance measure.

As described above, the outcome is what is produced for the “customer” but could involve a number of “jobs” (as discusses above).  The outcome is easier to measure and put into a Position Description.  If this position description incorporates the measures then it is both informing the position holder of the expectations as well as empowering them to produce the outcomes at or better than the standard set in the performance measures.  This leads to continuous improvement and therefore the position descriptions need to be updated at least annually or if there is a new recruitment.

We recommend that the terms that should be used are:

Role Description is the outcomes defined as a generic contributing element in an organisation i.e. can be applied anywhere in a structure.

Position description is the Role Description applied to a structure i.e. has location, reporting lines and quantification of measures.

Max Underhill Managing Director Maxumise Consulting Pty Ltd.