Hiring for a Specialized Position: Defining Goals


Hiring is only a part of the vital process in the Human Resource (HR) department’s match between job requirement and candidate qualities. The process involves (a) advertising (both internally and externally) for applications, (b) articulating a precise job description, (c) screening the applicant, (d) contacting candidates for interviews, (e) conducting the interviews, and (f) the final selection of right candidates. Post-selection, HR is in charge of communicating with the candidate regarding the specific pay, start date, and requirements of the position. If the person is appointed, then HR begins another process to prepare the new hire for the job.

For the purpose of this best practice suggestion, a job is a collection of tasks and responsibilities that an employee is responsible to conduct. A task is typically defined as a unit of work, that is, a set of activities needed to produce some result (McNamara, 2009). A very important component of the interview process is the job specification, which is a statement containing the minimum requirement of educational qualification, experience, and aptitude of the candidate. The job description contains the details of the job and focuses on the duties and responsibilities of that particular job.

Once the candidate is appointed, the next step is training for the specific job functions. In orientation, HR helps to familiarize the new hire with company policies and procedures as well as enlighten that person about compensation policies and packages. The training can be an on-the-job or off-the-job exercise. That means either on the premises or outside, away from the plant or company. Employees who develop to meet job requirements stand a chance to be promoted to higher-level positions with the higher status and higher monetary benefits. This motivates the employees in the organization to perform better (Cordeniz, 2009).

Job descriptions must clearly indicate the exact responsibilities, tasks, and level of authority the position carries. For example, if the job specifies certain responsibilities and duties without providing necessary authority to carry these duties out, job dissatisfaction could result. Thus, the allotment of job responsibilities and authority must be delineated at the very outset of appointment of employees to allay fears of future ambiguities. A precise job description provides the employee with clear expectations from the beginning. For this purpose, organizations must undertake the practice of conducting job evaluations to make sure that all of the important duties are accurately described when the position is posted. A job description is the backbone of job evaluation. “Understanding of the job must be achieved” (Madurasinghe, 2009).

The research question in this instance will be defining objectives when hiring for a specialized position within an organization.

Literature Review

In an organization, the starting point of any activity is to determine the main objective of the organization (Harrington, Esseling, & Nimwegen, 1997, p. 172). All plans and programs are drafted keeping the end objective in mind. For the planned achievement of goals, it is also necessary to build sub-systems that could be deployed to integrate achievement of a common organizational goal.

Human Resource (HR) is defined as the personnel that man and move and organisation as differentiated from financial assets and material resources that a corporate possesses- its human assets. Staffing is the process of acquiring, developing and retaining people so that the right type of employees is available for the right positions and at right time in the organization (Talent corner.com – Globalization and competition, 2006).

HR planning is the starting point of the staffing function. Forecasting labor needs for the future as well as the present is an important role of the HR department. It is done for all the subsystems or departments with the help of the concerned subsystem head. Every job must be analyzed separately. A job analysis is the process of collecting the relevant facts of a job to know the contents and characteristics needed of a person to perform the job. “A position description provides a clear understanding of the functions and responsibilities of the job, the skills required to perform those functions and the role of the position within the work unit and the organization as a whole” (RMIT University : Guidelines for writing position descriptions, 2008).

Every job must be analyzed separately. A job analysis is the process of collecting the relevant facts of a job to know the contents and characteristics needed of a person to perform the job.

A detailed job description provides the job title, tasks, duties, and responsibilities of the position. The importance of job description is that it (a) clarifies the role of the job and explains what is expected from the incumbent while performing the job; (b) forms a basis for the performance evaluation to the supervisor; (c) is a formal communication of the work plan and feedback, so that weakness of incumbent can be identified required training provided to set off shortcomings; (d) is the framework to decide the required qualities of the candidate while hiring a new person; (e) provides the scope of job to the candidates to decide whether the job is the right choice for them; (f) contains written job description will provide guideline to the managers to take decision related to the job; and (g) forms the backbone for an effective system of job evaluation in the organization. There is need to achieve internal consistency within work relationships within an organisation. This could be achieved to a large extent by initiating and adhering to job analysis, description, evaluation and structuring. (Refer to Appendix A) (You need job descriptions for the following reasons: Why job descriptions, 2003).

Each organization has its own culture and style of functioning that is part of the organizational behavior. It is up to the employees to adjust, or adapt themselves to the unique organizational behavior. “Organizational behavior is the study and application of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations” (NIIT : Organizational behavior: Introduction, 2008).

An organization is a system that interacts with people, groups, and the organization itself along with the external social system. All these factors will ultimately contribute to shaping its organizational behavior (Wenger, 2001).

Organizational culture can be referred to as the personality of the organization. “Culture is comprised of the assumptions, values, norms and tangible signs of organization members and their behaviors” (McNamara, 2009). The culture is created and reinforced by all the members within the organization. Any mismatch of this culture with organizational culture can create problems for the organization as well as the individual himself. The importance of the organizational culture becomes apparent when there is a change in the organizational environment. Therefore, the best practices approaches to job description envisages a close rapport between the role and responsibilities that an employee will need to undertake in an organization, and it requires matching the employee’s own knowledge and understanding of the work that needs to be done.

Organizational change is the alteration of the work environment in an organization (Khan, n.d. Pg.1 ). It implies any change in the technology, structural arrangement, job designs, and people. This essentially necessitates a new equilibrium. In a competitive environment, organizational change becomes a continuous process. In the present context, it could be seen that over a period of time, objectives change in tune with demands on the organization, and incumbents need to realign themselves to face the new challenges, brought about by organizational changes.

Some changes are minor, like changes of product packaging, or brand name, which are easily absorbed by the organization, but some are major changes, like the ones induced by entry of competitive products, new players, governmental regulations on products, etc., which need a great deal of effort to be effectively incorporated into the existing system. Changes can occur due to both external and internal factors. “The organization change refers to any alteration in the processes and structure of the organization, which results in the evolution and development of the organization, keeping in view its continuously changing environment” (Khan, n.d., p. 2). It is now necessary to consider external forces that impinge upon changes.

External factors include technological changes, changes in the marketing condition, as well as social, political and legal changes. Internal factors are brought about by change in the managerial position and deficiency in the existing organization including mergers and acquisitions. A major change requires careful planning because it involves a transformation of all aspects of the organization that are closely interrelated, like technology, task, structure, and people. According to Khan, “The change agent is the person responsible for organizing and coordinating the overall change effort.” (Khan, n.d., p. 4). The objective of the change agent is to bring desired changes in the organization. The organization can seek the help of external consultants, or experts to bring the desired change in the organization. It can also implement changes through internal change agents. They are usually the CEO, departmental heads, and other managers who act as a change advisor. Managers can act as change agents because they are the people responsible for implementing major changes.

To a large extent, the specialized position that managers occupy, ordain them to undertake organizational and individual changes, whenever necessary. However, this needs to be in line with prestated objectives and needs to be approved by directors and senior members of the Board. It is also necessary that evidence of changes improving the present situation is also produced, to reinforce the need and justification for changes. For instance, taking the objective of improving the bottom line or increasing profitability. It is now widely believed by management practitioners that Activity Based Costing (ABC) reflects costs better than conventional machine hour or labor hour methods. The justification is that activities gauge costs more than machine usage and yet are understated in cost statements. When collaborated with evidential matter, it is possible to institute organizational costing changes based on better cost theories, catering to current realities.

Whenever there is a change, resistance to change emerges. To overcome resistance, employees should be educated, or provided extensive information and knowledge about the need to change and about the change itself. Participation and involvement by all of the employees to the change on a regular basis is necessary. Gaining employee’s commitment is another step towards overcoming resistance.

While it is seen, that in most cases, even when there are clearly defined and explained job descriptions in the culture of organizations, resistance to change does occur, and in some cases it may happen that structural changes in framework could render job description itself redundant, or subject to conspicuous changes. For example, the induction of a new inventory software program could render countless employees redundant, or with lesser work, since the machines could do the job more efficiently than men. Moreover, it signifies investment costs that need to be recouped through wage bill savings. Job descriptions tend to lose significance over time or through technological adaptation. Or even after a major management shakeup at the top. In such circumstances, it would become necessary for those adversely affected by changes, or those who challenge changes, to seek dialogue, or compromise with change agents, in order to preserve their jobs.

Leadership also plays an important part in wearing down resistance to change. Because a manager cannot always use formal authority to get support for the change, he sometimes relies on his personal skills, qualities, and other characteristic traits to influence people for accepting the change. Leadership in action is exemplified by Lee Iacocca, who took over the reins of an ailing Chrysler Company and through display of capstone leadership characteristics and managerial skills, transformed it into a successful company. He was not only able to persuade the work force about the changes needed in Chrysler, but also managed to convince the American Congress regarding the proposed achievement of his plans and objectives (Answers.com, 2009).

Motivation is always needed for an employee to increase the efficiency performance. It can be provided through words or through monetary benefits like incentives and rewards. An explicit job description describes exactly what the employee must do and defines specific tasks. Motivation is one of the tools necessary to help an employee reach goals and acclimate to the demands of the position. While the creation of job descriptions is academic, motivation is task oriented and goal directed. Motivation is what offers drive and stimulus to a worker to willingly pursue his onerous tasks with a positive frame of mind and conduct.

Leadership is the process of influencing and supporting others to work willingly and enthusiastically for achieving a particular goal in an organization and is a continuous process. “Management is about seeking order and stability; leadership is about seeking adaptive and constructive change” (Farahbakhsh, 2007).

Thus, leadership provides the stimulus for employee development. However, there are reasons to believe that technological advancements, market changes, management changes and socio-economic turmoil, and fluctuation in prices of core products like oil or petroleum products could impact the functioning of corporates. Thus, if one considers the long-term career growth of employees, a well defined and structured job description, that relates to the concerned job profile and accomplishments are very important. Moreover, it is possible that job descriptions may also change due to career growth of employees and advancement in the managerial cadres. All this need to be reflected in the job description over time. Major changes in top management could affect accountability and reporting functions of employees, but this could be surmounted through clear job descriptions and accountability systems.

A leader can make his team effective through his own skill and personal ability. Effective leadership can motivate the employees to work willingly and enthusiastically to achieve organizational goals.

Different leaders have varied leadership styles depending upon their personality and the intensity of situation at hand. Leaders need to fully acquaint themselves with the technical features of the job description before providing, or even imposing their leadership styles upon personnel. When the incumbent is acquitting himself fully well with regard to performance in relation to the job description, whether additional aspects of leadership is required need to be injected, is a matter of speculative thinking and conjecture. In certain cases, this may do more harm than good.

The prominent leadership styles are (a) autocratic, (b) bureaucratic, (c) charismatic, (d) democratic, (e) laissez-faire, (f) participative, (g) people-oriented/relations-oriented, (h) servant, (i) task-oriented, (j) transactional, and (k) transformational leadership(Agrawal, 2008). Many leaders employ more than one style, but the style will be predominantly dominated by one of the above. Leadership is essential in motivating and retaining staff. A good leader should ensure that all employees work towards achievement of goals and objectives of the organization, in accordance with the role and responsibilities entrusted to him, and duly documented in his job description.

It is essential that the employee needs to know what role he will have to undertake. This should be clearly defined in the job description. Unless this is known, the employee will be confused about his position in the organization. As is often the case, dual functionaries and lack of right delegation of authority and responsibilities among employees may be capstone causes for loss of morale and job dissatisfaction.

These needs to be remedied in order to help the organization achieve its goals and objectives with relative ease and efforts. While it may not be always necessary to have a formal job description, it is important that employees do not work with vested interests.

He may leave out some of his responsibilities and may also duplicate someone else’s work. He might also step out of his line of authority. All the above may be done unintentionally. If such situation continues, the employee will become cynical.

Cynicism is on the increase in American business and industry, which gradually obscures their competitiveness and ability to hold today’s needed organizational changes…43% of workers are pessimistic and 40% of managers and supervisors are distrustful, as well. In their later study (1991) they concluded that cynicism among workers is increasing. (McNamara, 2009).

If roles are not defined across the organization, there will be high labor turnover, due to distrust and cynicism, which may even result in the collapse of the organization. It is an important factor that can affect the performance of an employee. “Job satisfaction is in regard to one’s feelings or state-of-mind regarding the nature of their work” (Bassett, 2009). (deleted )

The nature of the job itself would be the most important factor in this context. Other factors include pay and other benefits, the leadership, the management style, organizational culture, race and ethnic mindset of the employee, his personal and social upbringing and culture, working conditions and atmosphere, existence of formal and informal groups and other aspects that impinge upon job satisfaction. In this case, where, in the absence of a clear-cut role or objective, one cannot expect job satisfaction. Lack of job satisfaction can also cause poor quality of work, absenteeism, and high labor turnover. If highly skilled employees continually leave the organization, developing efficiency and skill on a continued basis becomes quite difficult.” Job satisfaction helps management reduce absenteeism, labor turnover and stress. Additionally, there are benefits for society in general. Satisfied employees are happy, work better and, therefore, increase the productivity of the firm.” (Job Satisfaction – Causes and Consequences”.

Any organization will require a stable number of employees for its smooth functioning. Usually there will be industry level statistics with which the organization can compare. If the turnover is higher than the industry average, there is something wrong with the HR department in the organization. It is evident that employees are not happy working in the organization. The organization needs to take immediate steps to see that this trend is reversed, if it is on par with industry levels, the HR Department should be on its guard and should see that it is above or at least remains at par with industry levels.There are reasons to believe that work dissatisfaction and higher levels of labor turnover are mutually inclusive. Those members of the workforce who are dissatisfied tend to absent themselves frequently, to avoid work. Chronic absenteeism may culminate in termination of services, or other equally unpalatable situation for the affected worker (Bassett, 2009).

The attendance and excellent work performance in workplaces could, to a certain extent, be tantamount to higher level of job satisfaction, although there may not be peer-reviewed research papers to corroborate it. If it is above the industry level, then it indicates that the HR Department and the company as a whole are doing well. Statistics in the United States show average overall employee turnover to be around 23%.((NOBSCOT CORP – Retention management and metrics, 2009). The highest turnover is for the hospitality industry, which is as high as 50 % (Deloitte, 2009).

Turnover in government sector is very low as the following chart indicates. The figures are for the year 2006.

(Please Refer to Appendix B)

(Annual U.S voluntary turnover by government).

A turnover rate of more than 10% is unusual in government and public sector jobs. This could be because of the security that a government job offers even if compensation levels and other factors may not be in par with the private sector.

In the context of job description it could be said that a new employee or a relocated one needs to be fully cognizant of his role in the organizational hierarchy and clearly know his duties and responsibilities. This could also be seen in terms of

the fact that if job descriptions are not clear or blurred, it may affect his performance, and if serious, may also jeopardize his presence in the company. Frequent occurrences of job attrition among several groups of employees could result in high rate of employee turnover, necessitating the management to review the matter bases on facts and figures. In such cases, authentic and genuine figures of employee turnover and retention may be needed for final decisions to be taken.

There is a simple method by which employee turnover and retention can be measured, which is given below.

  • Total number of leavers over period x 100
  • Average total number employed over period

Employee retention:

  • Number of leavers with more than one years service x 100
  • Total number of staff in post one year ago.
  • High employee turnover will be costly for an organization

They are administration of the resignation, recruitment costs; selection costs, and training costs associated with loss (Loquercio, 2006).

Employees leave organizations for many reasons including (a) lack of job satisfaction, (b) better career prospects elsewhere, (c) lack of job advancement in present organization, (d) bosses and supervisors, and (e) money (Klee, 2009).

Job satisfaction is a key factor in employee retention. A satisfied employee will remain in the same organization even if he is offered another job with a higher salary and benefits.

Companies incur costs when recruiting and training of new employees, but in case they leave due to lack of job satisfaction or to join a competitor, the company will have to incur additional costs of recruiting and training new employees.

“High attrition rate poses a significant challenge to call center managers as frequent loss of well-trained or skilled employees is a cause for concern.” (R Santana Krishnan : Job Satisfaction in Call Centers and IT Industries – An Analysis : (Over view, 2007).

The lowering of productivity, due to inexperience of new employees may be a limiting factor, depending upon the kind of work. However, this would more than compensated, when they become well trained and compete with more experienced colleagues. Again coming to experienced employees, holding responsible positions, if they leave the employers to join a competitor, the possible business loss (where existing customers and business are lured off) is even more pronounced. Employee retention and capture could possibly augment the progress of productivity in any organization. The main objectives of a specialized work performance which underlines the hiring of the employee needs to be matched with the actual needs and requirements of the organizations in terms of employee outputs.

Companies are investing for hiring and training of their personnel. After much needed reforms have been instituted in IT, insurance companies have made conspicuous changes in their recruitment and training procedures. Training can be helpful to the candidates to involve his responsibilities much more effectively in his work area. Training is important since it helps employees throw off the baggage they are carrying from previous employment and focus on the tasks at hand with singularity and dexterity.

If the employees perform very badly without adequate training it will directly affect the company’s reputation and profitability. At entry level employment, there are possibilities that the company will not get any output during training period from a trainee, but this could be remedied by on-the –job training in which he earns while he learns. Normally it is seen that companies invest in terms of time, efforts and funds to meet training needs during training program.

During the training program, the organization has to take care of development, equipment, trainer costs, software, travel, administrative facilities, management support, maintenance, and miscellaneous costs. In the context of defining objectives, it is seen that although the potential candidates are specialists holding Masters Degree, Business Administration credentials, Finance or Cost specialists, they need to attune themselves to special characteristics and corporate environment of the business, for which it is necessary that they are imparted, general or specialized training programmes which may be of short time duration, usually a week, or so. After such time, they have been imbued with the special features determining the scope and level of activities; it becomes necessary for them to provide results and performance within the organization, in line with the defining objectives for which they have been recruited and provided employment opportunities in order to serve the goals and objectives of the company.

Appendix A

(You need job descriptions for the following reasons: Why job descriptions, 2003).

Appendix B

(Annual U.S voluntary turnover by Government (Retention management and metrics, 2009).


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