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Employee with HR person

Determine Major Job Duties

Setting clear expectations about the content and quality of the job is an essential first step.  The following guidelines will help you with the first of your responsibilities - to determine the major job duties for each of your staff members.

Major job duties are those duties that are essential to the job. These duties are fundamental and critical to the job, describing what the job is really established to perform and if they are not performed, would severely impact the nature of the job.  Major job duties are distinct from marginal or secondary functions which ar peripheral to the core duties.  The following resources may help you identify major job duties for specific jobs:  

1. The position description form that is on file in your unit.
2. Prior performance appraisal documents that you have in effect in your 
     department. Some things to consider in determining major job duties

  • What are the primary duties of the job?
  • What duties are essential/critical to the job?
  • What duties are sufficiently important to the overall success that performance below standard would result in unacceptable overall performance?
  • What percentage of time is spent on the duty?
  • If the duty is performed inadequately, what is the impact on the department?  What is the consequence of error?
  • Are there legislative or regulatory reasons that require strict adherence and high standards of performance.

Confirming Performance Expectations

When the supervisor and employee review the expected performance, there should be a detailed discussion about the performance expectations.  These standards should fully describe satisfactory performance, be observable, measurable and specific, be meaningful and realistic, and be consistent.  When discussing these standards, keep in mind that good performance typically involves more than technical expertise, e.g. friendliness, helpfulness, courteousness, punctuality, etc.  These behaviors often help to determine whether performance exceeds expectations.  Things to consider when discussing performance expectations include:

  • What does good performance look like?
  • What is the difference between good and poor performance?
  • What conditions exist when a duty is well performed?
  • Are there specific criteria that specify good performance, e.g, quantity, quality, timeliness, deadlines, safety?
  • Are the performance expectations meaningful and realistic?
  • What interpersonal and customer service behaviors are important in this job??
  • Are these behaviors expected in your department to promote teamwork, etc.?