Many nonprofits and ministries begin with everyone doing everything…and usually there are not that many “everyones.” Typically, there are just a few people doing a lot of different things, some for which they are gifted for and some because someone has to do it. But, as the organization grows and gets bigger, it is important to develop job descriptions for each position. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, often leaving people wondering what in the world they are supposed to be doing and how will they know if they are doing a good job.
Besides guiding an individual in a position to know what they are supposed to be doing and how their work will be evaluated, job descriptions serve another important purpose. As the organization begins to seek outside funding from government agencies and major donors, there will be a frequent request for job descriptions. It is important to have objective job descriptions that outline job responsibilities, qualifications, compensation and chain of command. Without this information formally written down, it becomes challenging to hire highly qualified staff and even more difficult to determine if someone is doing a good job.
Busyness is not a good measure of whether or not someone is doing a good job.
Once job descriptions are in place, it is important to have a regular system of evaluation for all employees – both paid and unpaid (volunteer). Performance evaluations should be conducted at regular, annual intervals. Additionally, it is also helpful to conduct them within 90 days of the date of hire. While many view evaluations as a cumbersome process, evaluations serve as an objective mechanism for three main purposes.
First, evaluations allow a supervisor to provide feedback when an employee is not doing well in his or her current position. If done correctly, the evaluation will also provide the employee with an opportunity to provide his or her reflections on the job being done and how it can be done better. For an employee who is not functioning at an optimum performance level, the evaluation also gives the supervisor an opportunity to outline clear, measurable objectives to improve work performance. This documentation is essential in the event that it is determined the employee is not a good fit for continued employment.
Secondly, evaluations provide a supervisor with an opportunity to formally praise the work of the employee. Hopefully, informal praise is occurring throughout the year, but the written evaluation process enables the supervisor to put the praise in writing. And, all employees will perform even better when their work is praised and recognized.
Finally, evaluations help employees stay connected to the mission of the organization. It is easy as we go throughout our daily tasks to let the mission slide and sometimes we all forget why we are doing what we do. When we forget, our work becomes a job instead of a heart-felt purpose. It is the job of the supervisor to always make sure employees stay connected to the mission.
Perhaps the thought of job descriptions and evaluations makes your head spin. It seems they are just another thing on the to-do list. Members of the Faith Based Nonprofit Resource Center have access to a job description template in our membership site this month.