What Are You Paying Your Employees To Do?

by | Leadership, Resources

moneyTypically, when hiring, companies and organizations provide a new employee with a job description. This list of duties and responsibilities outlines the expectations of you as the employer in very general terms… all the way down to the catch-all ‘other duties as assigned’.

So is it any wonder that our employees tend to look at the employee-employer relationship as a ‘deal’ – that in exchange for an agreed upon level of compensation, the employee will assume an agreed upon set of duties?   But there is nothing wrong with that, is there? After all, you are outlining your expectations of them, which two weeks ago we said is one of the things new employees want.

Whether there is anything ‘wrong’ with the approach depends upon your perception of what you are paying your employees to do. Consider the following.

A school principal might typically require teachers to be at school between certain hours, teach 6 class periods, serve as study hall monitor on a set schedule, maintain discipline in their classrooms, have lesson plans prepared at least one week in advance, and keep attendance, lunch count, grades and other specified information about students. All among the typical duties and responsibilities of a teacher.

Or the principal might define the teacher’s duty as assuring that at the end of the semester, all students in the teacher’s classes have no less than an 80% grade.

Yikes! My undergraduate degree is in education and I’ll bet most any teacher who just read that had their blood pressure rise. Just think about the controversy that surrounds efforts like “No Child Left Behind”, or ISATs in Illinois, or suggestions of a voucher system allowing parents to ‘shop around’ for schools.

But whether it is educating students, waiting tables, treating patients, or selling cars, is the employer’s real goal simply that a list of duties be performed? Is that what the customer / client is interested in?

Or instead, do you, as the employer, have specific outcomes that you would like accomplished? That students learn at an acceptable level of proficiency. That restaurant customers are pleased with the experience and come back. That sick people feel comforted and get better. That a certain number of cars are sold each month.

In the first example above, the Principal has defined the steps that a teacher has to follow each day.  In the second, the Principal instead defined the expected end results, leaving the teacher to determine the steps necessary for them to accomplish that result – steps that may be unique to who they are as a person and to their specific style of teaching.

Buckingham and Coffman suggest that the outcomes should be most important to all of us. So why do our policies and procedures often worry more about how something is done, than what is accomplished? Maybe it is time for both you and your employees to redefine what they are being paid to do. Unleash the creativity and uniqueness of every individual, allowing them to find their own path to the same, common outcomes.


Vertical Performance, Inc.

15 N. 1st Street, Suite 202
Belleville, IL 62220
In The Peer 151 Co-working & Incubator Space

I want to learn more about how Vertical Performance can help my business or organization...

7 + 10 =