The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


Responsibility – Part 3

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Im realizing that I never actually defined why I called this series “responsibility.” Mostly, it was because we in HR have a responsibility to ensure that certain practices maintain the HR and employer brand. So far, we’ve talked about values and what happens when leadership hypocrasy sets in, and in part 2, about the shared responsibility with operational leaders to develop the next deneration of leadership. Today, we discuss a core responsibility of ensure job design actually meets reality and maximizes effectiveness.

A couple months ago I wrote a strangely titled article called “why I love compensation.” I was truly serious when I wrote it, as the process of job design touches and initiates so many other processes in HR, and especially talent management.

To understand what determines whether a job is designed for high performance, you must put yourself in the shoes of your organization’s managers. To carry out his or her job, each employee has to know the answer to four basic questions:

  • “What resources do I control to accomplish my tasks?”
  • “What measures will be used to evaluate my performance?”
  • “Who do I need to interact with and influence to achieve my goals?”
  • “How much support can I expect when I reach out to others for help?”

The questions correspond to what I call the four basic spansof a job: control, accountability, influence, and support. Each span can be adjusted so that it is narrow or wide or somewhere in between. I think of the adjustments as being made on sliders, like those found on music amplifiers. If you get the settings right, you can design a job in which a talented individual can successfully execute your company’s strategy. But if you get the settings wrong, it will be difficult for any employee to be effective. (( Simons, Robert, October 31, 2005. “Tuning Jobs to Fit Your Company.” HBS Working Knowledge. Retrived from on March 11, 2005.))

In compensation’s job analysis, we often think about what and how a job is performed. With that in mind, we look at skills, necessary knowledge, etc.. However, we don’t always look at the environment and relationships that are needed for a person to perform well. While we in HR don’t design these “spans” employees entering jobs do need to understand them in order to be successful. HR also has a responsibility to communicate with management to make them understand how their actions affect job performance and how they can support these “spans.”

Also see the series on Leadership.

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