This past weekend, I watched the documentary 9To5: The Story of a Movement. Though I'm familiar with Dolly, Jane, and Lily's take on it, I didn't know the real story of the movement that inspired it. If you don't either, I'd recommend it; i's full of good lessons about history repeating itself. But what was most surprising to me is when the organizers of the 9to5 movement did a survey of their members to find out what their most pressing needs and concerns were, one need the film showed repeatedly was: A clear Job Description. One member even responded, "Job Description, what Job Description."

What's shocking to me, is that 40 years later, writing a clear and thorough Job Description is still something I have to convince entrepreneurs that must be done. It's not seen as a tool to promote equality, but more often a burden on the founder. In this musical edition of the newsletter, we'll look at how to create a well-written job description with the lyrics and song titles of Dolly Parton's tunes. Roll with me now. Each hyperlink will take you to one of my favorite Dolly tunes as the soundtrack to this newsletter.


When I reflect back through the years of working with entrepreneurs, often when I ask to see the job descriptions being used in an organization, at best, I am shown a job posting. And I've tried to make them see that a job posting and job description are different documents serving different purposes. A job posting is usually a summary of a job that is posted on various recruiting sites for job seekers, maybe sharing a summary of responsibilities and a few sentences about the position itself.

For most companies, even the job posting is lacking. And it's often lacking and without its counterpoint, the job description, because we're mired in the day-to-day gold rush of entrepreneurship instead of focusing on the social change that's possible within entrepreneurship when we are clear with our expectations and give employees and contractors the tools they need to succeed. I'm beggin of you to change the way you think about this very important document in your business. It requires a dedication to a different way of approaching your work. 



When I speak to entrepreneurs who are in a position to build a team, they frequently tell me they are looking for candidates who are going to take ownership of their role and commit to the role for a long period. What's more, frustration often arises early from the entrepreneur because the employee isn't living up to their expectations. To which I usually ask: what expectations? The ones buried deep in your mind? Imagine how frustrating it feels to an employee to come into a new environment only to be given relatively little explanation of what role you play in the organization and how it fits into the larger picture of building the vision. It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it.

That's why it's important to remember that most employees are not looking for lifetime roles, they are merely travelin' thru our companies. And that makes it even more important that we move out of the long dark night of expecting employees to be mind readers and see the light of the clear blue morning and create a clear and thorough document. 


If you are ready to create a better document, here are some guidelines to follow because it's easy to go wrong when you don't put enough thought into this practice.  Whether you're starting over again or just starting from scratch, use this checklist to ensure that building a team is all that you've ever dreamed of

  • Always give the position a clear title. Titles are confusing these days, I'm not going to lie. They seem to mean less and less to me when I see the diversity in titles across organizations, but they mean something to most employees. Put thought and consideration into why you're choosing the title you're choosing. 
  • Indicate to who the employee reports. Who is their direct supervisor? Who do they go to with questions and concerns? Who will be responsible for their training. 
  • Give the position a brief purpose statement. Indicate how this position contributes to the team as a whole and the vision of the company. 
  • Include indicators of success. We all need to know what success looks like to those who expect it from us. If we don't get these clear guidelines how can we possibly manage to meet expectations? 
  • List out the essential functions as specifically as possible - no detail is too small. This is where we often go very wrong listing out just a few major responsibilities instead of categorizing all areas of work the employee must cover and making bulleted lists of the functions with each category. 
  • Include any other necessary legal clauses around requirements. Because I don't give legal advice, I'll leave it at that for now. But if you're curious what legal clauses should be included, ask a labor lawyer or consult your local Department of Labor. 
  • Be clear on the pay rate and pay scale within the organization. Transparency matters. Buffer is a pretty exceptional example of this. 
  • Ensure that it is signed. Review together and the employee should always retain a signed copy for their own reference.
It's alright to deviate if you have a more detailed format. And if you feel you've tried this method and found that it's all wrong, it's not usually a systems problem you have, it's a culture problem. But that's for another day! 


Our next book club will meet on SEPTEMBER 14th at 7 pm. We will be reading Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics. This is a free event, please email me to register. 


Lex Fridman is probably one of my favorite podcasters because he asks great questions. This podcast doesn't have anything to do with business directly per se, but does dig deep into philosophy and psychedelics.

This interview with Jason Fried founder of basecamp is an interesting follow-up to the announcement he made that they wouldn't be discussing politics at work. 

Contrapoints is back with her genius explaining the internet and envy

A concise article from HBR about adaptability in business. 

Good news for the challenge to Prop 22 in CA.

Is WFH really the most progressive option

If you missed the first two installments of the musical newsletters you can read about the future of online commerce and growth.

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