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Writing and Maintaining Position Descriptions

Position descriptions are important tools that can help you manage employees’ performance and set expectations. Use the following resources to help you understand the difference between position descriptions and job descriptions, and learn how to write effective position descriptions.

Understanding Position Descriptions

Position descriptions help employees get a sense of their job responsibilities, what’s expected of them, and the standards by which they’ll be evaluated and rewarded. Position descriptions may also help you develop recruiting materials, develop orientation and training programs, and ensure consistency and equity among positions.

Position Descriptions vs. Job Descriptions

Each position in your department should have a separate position description that provides details regarding each task of that specific position. Be careful not to confuse position descriptions with official university job descriptions. Position descriptions differ from job descriptions in the following ways:

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How to Write Position Descriptions

You should take the following steps when creating and updating position descriptions.

Choose Your Method of Developing Position Descriptions

As a manager, you can take several approaches to helping your employees craft their position descriptions. Depending on your department and your management style, you may choose any of the following methods:

Review Relevant Resources

The following sources of data might help you develop position descriptions:

Think Structurally

It's important to think about the position structurally, rather than describing the unique qualities of the individual currently holding the position. Try the following tactics:

Write Behaviorally

Since position descriptions will be used to monitor and evaluate, as well as to provide orientation and training, write them behaviorally with action verbs. You should do the following:

Constantly Update and Assess

In the spirit of continuous improvement and process review, position descriptions should constantly evolve based on emerging priorities or shifts in organizational and departmental needs. Be sure to constantly update and assess position descriptions in the following ways:

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