What Do You Do with Outcomes?—Examining Your Job Designs
Here’s a bonus blog in our mini-series on what companies are doing with outcomes. In the previous blogs in this series, we’ve discussed using outcomes
- as the focal point for training design
- as the basis for equipping people with the right tools, processes, and information
- as the foundation for identifying potential candidates to hire
- as the target for coaching efforts designed to improve performance
But there is yet another use for outcomes that some companies are employing—as a key indicator of whether the breadth of job responsibilities is too small, too broad, or just about right.
In our experience, top performers in critical roles focus on anywhere from four to seven key outcomes. By extension, each of those key outcomes demands anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of the top performers’ work focus and energy. Interestingly, those top performers have told us that anything that falls below that threshold of focus and energy simply isn’t worth the time and effort. In other words, those things just don’t matter to success on the job.
How does knowing this help with evaluating job scope? Simple. After conducting a TOPS analysis and mapping the key outcomes of a role, leaders should stop and review the list of outcomes. If there are more than about seven key outcomes, chances are pretty good that at least a couple of them are performed so infrequently that they really aren’t critical to success. Having too many outcomes causes people to divide their time and attention too much to concentrate on the few things that really matter.
On the other end of the scale, if there are fewer than about four outcomes, it’s quite possible that the job is not broad enough to command the sustained attention of top performers. People want and deserve interesting jobs with a variety of components.
So when you are evaluating or designing jobs, take a look at the number of outcomes you are expecting from people in your critical roles. If there are four to seven, you’re right in the sweet spot from a job design perspective.
Questions to ponder:
- Do your top performers think their job scopes are about right? How do you know?