How To Write A Good Job Description

A job description communicates your expectations to your employee, evaluates their professional performance, and sets the tone for their employment.  Failure to provide a job description leads to miscommunication and disorganization so it should be one of the first things you have your new employees sign.

How To Write A Job Description

Step One: Start With The Requirements

The first step is to make sure that you understand the job requirements that the employee will be performing.  If this position requires certain certificates or skills, make a list of all of these items.  Be sure to include them in the description.  Also, make a list of the preferred job qualifications. These additional qualifications separate the “meets basic expectations” candidates from the “highly desirable” candidates.

Step Two: Avoid Exaggeration

Exaggerating job description requirements puts you at risk and simultaneously loses you candidates.  You want to have a balance when you provide job descriptions. After all, you both advertise with these and have your selected candidate sign them.   So, you shouldn’t hire a candidate who does not meet your requirements.  Thus, making sure you don’t exaggerate your job description means that you can bring in good candidates.

Many companies do not follow this trend and it can be costly.  First, exaggerating job descriptions scares away many candidates.  So, your pool may be small.  Second, if you hire someone that does not meet your advertised “requirements” and other candidates get word of your decision, it hurts your reputation. Additionally, if candidates suspect you hired the under-qualified candidate for discriminatory reasons, you may have a lawsuit on your hands.  Even if you easily win such a dispute, it is still an expense that you can avoid.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that your rejected candidates will not know who you decided to hire.  In the age of social media, a 30-second linked-in search can quickly reveal your choices.

To avoid this, stick to your requirements and make them absolute.  Then, add your preferences to attract higher-end candidates.  This frees you up to pick and choose ideal traits of candidates and does not prevent qualified people from applying. It also gives you the freedom to select a less “qualified” candidate when our requirements are met, but you happen to have a trait in that candidate that is especially appealing.

Step Three: Include “Position Purpose” Statement

A position purpose statement communicates to the employee the “Why” behind what they do.  Employers often include a generic statement about the role of the job. However, a purpose statement gives value to the position. It allows the employee to understand the true importance of their role. It grows their knowledge and increases the likelihood that they will believe that their job makes a difference. Increasing this, in turn, increases the likelihood that your employee will be motivated to stay with your company.

Step Four: Include Physical Risks and Job Hazards

Many individuals will have a reason that they cannot perform a particular job or may need to request reasonable accommodation.  Being upfront about the risks associated with the job allows candidates to understand what you require.  It also enables them to be selective about the risks they are willing to take for their employment.

For example, you may have a construction position that requires exposure to elements and heavy physical labor.  You may have a lab position that requires exposure to toxic chemicals.  These risks should be communicated so that you do not fail to alert your candidates and employees fully. Many employees will be okay with these risks. However, failure to disclose these risks can be lawsuit risk. It can also be a reason that you end up having high turnover rates.  You may get candidates who are not aware of the risks and leave quickly once they discover the true nature of the job.

Step Five: Signature Lines, Dates, and Official Sign-Offs

This step is standard, but important.  As companies grow, it is common for documents to change an evolve. Often, these new documents will reflect important changes, but then managers will still use the old document.  The official job description should always have a sign-off from a person in leadership. This may be the HR department or the owner if the company is too small to have an HR person on staff.

Additionally, the job description should include the version number and the date that it was created.  Whenever a new job description is signed and put into the employee’s file, someone should do a quick check to make sure that it is a recent and accurate job description.

The 4 stages of a restaurant business

Growing up, I dreamed of launching a restaurant. Actually, I dreamed of growing an empire. When I actually launched my first restaurant: there were a lot of surprises. One thing I learned is that there are 4 major stages a restaurant goes through on its way to success. The life-cycle of a restaurant is similar to the tech trend Hype Cycle. However, the Restaurant Life Cycle follows some different patterns.

Phase 1. The launch phase.
The launch phase is the exciting time in which you open your doors to the public, put forth your advertising, and test your idea. It’s the critical time in which your first customers come through your doors, you will make a lot of mistakes and work constantly during this phase. You will be surprised by the employee mistakes and the harshness of customer expectations. The best thing to do here is be as prepared as possible–and then expect problems to arise. Respond quickly and always consider the long-term ramifications of your choices. What will you choices today say about your brand tomorrow?

Phase 2. Hype-Phase. This phase kicks in right within the first 6 months of most restaurants opening. This is the time when your sales are at their highest. You hit what’s called a critical mass: enough people have heard about your business that they come and try to it out and there’s also just enough word-of mouth for your business to feel viral. During this phase, many restaurant owners get stars in their eyes, picturing themselves as wildly successful with scores of chain restaurants under their belt. This is actually a time to be carefully monitoring your customer’s satisfaction and listening to what they want. Do you get a lot of complaints about your best seller item? Do folks like your environment? Is there one thing that literally everyone asks for you don’t have yet? What’s the “vibe” that your customers are getting from your business? The reason why it is especially important to ask these questions is that during this hype-phase, the biggest number of your customers are figuring out what they think of your restaurant. If they don’t like it: they’re not coming back. You won’t be able to keep everyone coming back, of course, but you do want to make sure your product is something that brings a lot of your customers back through your doors.

Phase 3. Down-Cycle/Trough of Disillusionment
Your sales will start to drop dramatically. This is a sign that the hype is over, the brand of your business is established and understood by the general public. You will see your sales drop dramatically and may have to make adjustments to make sure your spending doesn’t overrun your sales. During this period, it is important to recognize it is a stage. A lot of restaurants don’t leave this stage because they get discouraged and quit. This down-cycle usually hits between 8-10 months of opening and lasts an average of 3-6 months. It often comes with a seasonal slow-down, the opening of a new rival business, or the natural slow-down that comes with the exciting “newness” of your business being over. This is also the point in which many staff will leave and turnover/performance issues can become a problem.

Phase 4. Stabilization/Seasonal Cycles

This final phase is only reached once you see a sustainable sales pattern emerge. It takes most businesses around 3 years to fully establish a good flow to their sales and an understanding of their natural seasons. Stability results in a slow, steady growth of business with seasonal drops based on the year and location of your restaurant. At this point, many restaurants will add in new products to re-start the “hype” phase, or cycle in an additional service. The key risk during this phase is a major disruption or a slow decline rather than slow growth. A major disruption can through your business through an additional down-cycle and if you don’t have the capital that disruption can cause you to close very quickly. A slow decline means that for one reason or another your business isn’t growing. In this circumstance, you have a two options: 1. Figure out how to change the slow decline or 2. Close your doors.

There you have it: the 4 stages every restaurant goes through to success. While any restaurant business is risky, it is also an exciting way to get your entrepreneurial feet wet and to teach many business lessons to you along the way. If you’d like some help figuring out where to start on your planning, check out our free resources page.

Free time-management tools

The best workplaces are a mix of work and play. An employee who is utterly miserable will not perform quality work on a consistent basis and a workplace full of bean-bag chairs and smoothie machines may inhibit the actual work-day.

A good happy medium? A solid set of goals and benchmarks to make sure your business gets its business done, an accountability system to prevent “ghost employees,” and enough flexibility and freedom to allow employees to squeeze in enough fun to make their workplace worth returning to.

To set these goals and benchmarks, you’re going to want the right time management and productivity tools for the job. The Little Fish Team has used some of the following to increase their productivity, and wants to share them with you.

Todoist

Getting started on Todoist is simple with a bright and user-friendly interface. Lists can be made in the form of “Projects.” Projects can be shared between multiple people and added/edited as needed. You can set recurring tasks and synchronize due dates with a calendar. The price is right too: Free. Todoist also offers a full-feature version which allows commenting and more tasks per a project. Little Fish has gotten along well just operating on the free version and we’ve found our productivity increased by about 20% just using this program.

Slack

Slack is all about communication and sharing. It’s like a mini-social media for work. Share files, set meetings, and schedule phone calls. It’s a great place to one-stop your communication and the free version allows small teams to really connect. Be careful though: this great communication tool can easily turn into a time-waster if its not utilized properly.

Doodle Poll

Doodle is a must for the Little Fish Team. On large projects or when working with multiple client’s departments and team schedules, it is nearly impossible to get a meeting set up through email. The best free solution we’ve found has been Doodle’s schedule software, allowing our team to set a list of available meetings and then allow the rest of the attendees to narrow down their availability. The result? Meetings get scheduled in half the time and nobody says that they need a different schedule.