~ August 31, 2010 ~

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: We're going to go ahead and get


So welcome, everyone, to another Pass It On Center

webinar. We are really happy that you are with us today.

I hope that all of you can hear me. The

presentation is being recorded, and it's also going to be

archived on our website with the rest of our webinars.

As you know, we believe in getting this information

out and making it in a format that everybody can access.

We are very committed to accessibility, and so we

definitely do the transcripts and all of that.

So feel free to let other folks know that we have

this information available, and also feel free to go back

and revisit it as often as you would like.

Our Pass It On Center webinar room -- just for

everyone. It's helpful to go over these little tips here.

If you look at the very top of the screen, the

fourth or fifth icon and word over is "Recording." You can

record this if you would like to yourself. All you would

have to do is go up to the word "Recording" and hit "Start

Recording." And then you title it, and then you can record

it. If you would like to hear our voices, you are more

than welcome to do that. Several people do that. They

seem to like that feature.

We also have over to the far right a public-chat

area. This is a way so that we can make our webinar even

more accessible and more of a multimodal approach for


If you go right below the public-chat area, you'll

see a little box where you can enter information. You can

type whatever you want, and you can join the conversation

just by typing in that box. We will be watching that.

I just typed in "Welcome," and it just popped up in

the public-chat. You can join the conversation. We'll be

watching that public-chat area and allowing -- making sure

that we're answering your questions.

This, as we see it, it obviously is a presentation,

but it's also going to be a dialogue. And so we definitely

want to hear from you, and we also want to know what

questions you might have.

We do have two experts with us, and we're really

glad to have them with us today. That's Joanne Willis, who

is the executive director of Touch the Future. And ReBoot

is the computer reuse program and also assistive technology

reuse program that she operates.

And then Cathy Valdez, who is the executive

director of Project MEND out of Texas.

And we're really happy that you're with us, Cathy,

and that you and Joanne can share your knowledge with us.

And Trish Redmon, who is absolutely invaluable when

it comes to the Pass It On Center team, is with us also.

And she pulled this presentation together and coordinated

this specific webinar.

So thank you, Trish, very much for all your hard

work and pulling this together.

I did want to cover this information and let you

know that you can get CEUs, continuing education units,

through our collaboration with the AAC Institute. You

would just go to And we have our

webinar for today listed there, so you can get credit for

that if you would like.

We also have CRC credits. All you would need to do

to receive this is to send information. You can get in

touch with Liz Persaud, and she can walk you through it.

But send an e-mail with your name, organization,

city, state, and e-mail address to Liz Persaud. It's just And she can walk you through that

process. So that's not a problem at all.

You can also download the work package. We found

that this has been very, very helpful. And Trish has done

an outstanding job pulling this information together and

putting this in a format that really makes sense.

So the working documents for this webinar are

available at our website, --

or maybe that's a forward slash; Bob Rust could probably

tell me -- and you can download the package for developing

job descriptions under "New to the Knowledge Base," and

that's where you can find that.

So I'm going to go ahead and turn this on over to

Trish. So, Trish, take it away.

TRISH REDMON: Thank you, Carolyn.

And welcome to all of you for this. And as we said

earlier when we were sound-testing, sometimes this doesn't

sound like an exciting topic, but it certainly is one that

can drive; improve performance in your program; and, if you

do an appropriate job, maybe keep you out of court

sometimes. And that's valuable.

Today we're going to look at a simple process for

writing job descriptions that accurately reflect the duties

and responsibilities of the positions. We'll talk about

how to integrate the indicators of quality for AT reuse and

how to transform the completed job description and/or

performance evaluation.

While this webinar will not address the use of

performance evaluations at length, we will really show you

how those relate to job descriptions.

Next slide, please.

So today's learning objectives are to help you

understand the need for job descriptions and performance

evaluations. And you probably know that. And if you are

in a large organization or a government agency or

university, you probably already have these things done for

you. But you still may have an opportunity here to really

gain some improvement from that.

We also want you to be able to prepare professional

job descriptions. And we're going to show you a very

simple tool, a little questionnaire that helps you gather

the information that you need.

We think this will prepare you to use job

descriptions to facilitate program performance improvement

because we're going to talk about how we integrate those

indicators of quality.

At the same time, we'll use the job description

that you prepare to simply transform it into a customized

performance evaluation for that specific position.

Next slide, please.

When we talk about -- before we go into Cathy and

Joanne, let's mention that, as we talk about job

descriptions, we want to make sure that we keep job

descriptions updated to reflect the current situation for

both legal and operational reasons. And we want to think

about all workers.

And many programs use contractors and volunteers

extensively. And while we'll discuss some reasons why you

don't write job descriptions for contractors, volunteers

are another consideration. And if you have key roles

filled by volunteers, you may want to have an informal kind

of job description for those people.

So before we talk about the process of developing

job descriptions, we have the two people that Carolyn

mentioned who direct nonprofit reuse organizations, and

they're going to share a brief look at how their programs

are staffed.

So first I want to ask Cathy Valdez, the executive

director of Project MEND, to describe how her organization



CATHY VALDEZ: Can everybody hear me, first of all?

Can you hear me? Trish says yes. Okay. I'm just going to

go ahead and start talking. Tell me if I need to be

louder, please.

Like the slide says, we are a small nonprofit here

in San Antonio, and we provide two main services to our

clientele. And that is durable medical equipment that we

first refurbish here in our warehouses and sanitize here in

our warehouses; and then also what we call a fitted

mobility service or basically our AT service.

You can go ahead and go to the next slide, please.

That's just the description again of the two


Next slide, please.

Joanne, can you hear me any better now? No? Can

everybody else hear me okay? I am almost eating my

microphone. Okay. I'm going to go ahead and go on then.

The next slide shows the organizational chart for

Project MEND. You'll notice that we do have a few

positions currently that are basically our wish list

because it does depend, of course, upon our funding.

But you can see we've got four management staff

under the executive director. And of course above that is

our board of directors. We have basically warehouse staff,

program staff, and then our financial and administrative


Next slide, please.

Just a brief description. Case management staff is

really responsible for every aspect of taking care of the

clients and their needs.

Whatever resources that our clients need that we do

not provide directly here at Project MEND, we have a great

partnership -- network of partners within our system here

for San Antonio that allows us to refer them out for the

resources that they may need.

Warehouse staff -- oh, I'm sorry. Let me back up.

The case management staff basically consists of case

managers, our program manager, and our intake specialist.

Currently we have one case manager and our program manager

that are primarily handling all the clientele. We normally

try to have at least two full-time case management staff

working with our program manager and our intake specialist.

In our warehouse we have, right now, three

full-time warehouse staff. That includes the warehouse

manager, a biomedical technician, and a warehouse

technician. We do need a fourth full-time person that

we're trying to get some funding for now, so it will give

us four full-time individuals.

And, of course, their responsibility is primarily

taking care of everything related to the distribution of

DME to our clientele. And that includes: the

sanitization, refurbishment, and repair; as well as the

delivery of DME; the setting up of the DME, especially for

the larger pieces like electric hospital beds; and the

pickup of the donated DME out in the community.

Next slide, please.

Again, here are some of the -- oh, I'm sorry. This

is our volunteer slide. Sorry.

We also use volunteers quite a bit. We're very

fortunate that we've got a great relationship with AARP and

their senior-employment program. They pay some of their

senior members to come out and serve as volunteers within a

lot of different nonprofits in San Antonio.

I think they're restricted to a maximum of 20 to

25 hours per week. So we get them about four days a week

for about five hours or so.

And they come in and primarily help us within the

warehouse. We have them trained to do the minor repair and

refurbishment and sanitizing of the medical items.

They usually are working on the minor repairs on

the manual wheelchairs that we get in. They're all trained

by our warehouse manager. And they also help us out with

the cleaning and maintaining of the grounds as well as our

office area.

There are obviously specific things that they

cannot do, for example, lifting heavy items and things like

that. So they're very limited in that area.

We also use office volunteers, and they do

primarily work with our intake specialist in the front area

to help greet our clients that come in, help them complete

any paperwork or help them get other resources -- directed

to other resources within the San Antonio area for other

services. And they also answer our phones and act as our

receptionist as well.

Next slide, please. I think that's it for me.

TRISH REDMON: (Audio skipped) ... been really

helpful to us in terms of talking about staffing at some of

our reuse conferences because we recognize that all of our

organizations come from a variety of structures and have a

variety of staffing and resources available to them.

Thank you, Cathy.

Okay. Joanne Willis, as Carolyn mentioned earlier,

is the executive director of Touch the Future, an

organization based in the Atlanta Metro area that offers a

wide range of services. And Joanne is going to share an

overview of her services and staffing at Touch the Future.

JOANNE WILLIS: Hello, everybody. I hope you can

hear me. If not, just type it up there, and I'll see what

I can do.

Touch the Future, our services -- we're assistive

technology. I apologize. (Phone ringing.) I will turn

that off. It's off. Okay.

We have two major programs at Touch the Future.

It's the Assistive Technology Resource Center and the

ReBoot program. And as Carolyn had said, the ReBoot

program is our computer refurbishment and AT reuse program.

We serve all ages and disabilities, and we do a multiple

set of AT-type pieces of equipment.

One of the things that you can see on the right, we

are very consumer oriented, meaning that everything is

based upon the consumer, what services he gets, and how he

moves through the system.

So it basically goes through the ATRC, who does the

client intake. We do information and assist;

demonstrations; loan library, which is try before you make

a decision; assessments and training. And we have

available products both new and used.

As for the ReBoot program, it's computer

refurbishment; electronic AT refurbishment, which is such

things as AAC devices, some of the electronic things that

are used for hearing devices and other things of that


Other AT reuse for us is ADLs, daily living

products, which would be your button hooks, your spoons --

your special adaptive spoons, et cetera.

The STAR Network was the demonstration grant that

was up through this year for us for reuse. And it's

actually a distribution membership model in which we

actually provide access to our reuse equipment and our

computers throughout Georgia and the southeastern United


And then last but not least is the recycling or the

end-of-life program. So basically what that means is, when

you have equipment coming in, you have to have a way to

dispose of the equipment on the other end. So we do have a

specialist that deals with end-of-life, and we do move

things in and out.

And I think the thing that is pretty interesting to

know is that basically 75 percent of everything that is

donated into the system goes out the back door because it's

not usable.

So next slide, please.

Okay. For our staffing, I'm showing you a little

bit different than the MEND project. But basically we're a

very small agency, and we do three types of staffing. We

have employees; we have contractors; and we have


Our staffing specialists include such things as an

occupational therapist; a mechanical engineer; A+ certified

technicians, which is very important for the computer

refurbishment project; as well as computer software and

education specialists for AT and basic computer software

skills; and again, as I mentioned previously, a recycling


In our program we have three full-time employees.

That means they absolutely are full-time, and they are

employed. We have two office contractors that handle many

of the phone calls and the paperwork and documentation

through the data input system.

And then in ReBoot, which is our reuse program, we

have three contractors. Now, that means that we have 1.5

full-time equivalents in that program. We have three ATRC

contractors, but in that program we have .75 full-time

equivalents. Volunteers average about 1.5 full-time


I think what I'm trying to point out here is that

we have quite a few staff; but, if you really look at that,

we don't have anybody that's truly there every day but our

full-time employees.

So we're having to handle something in a very

different way. We do a lot of cross-training, meaning we

back each other up. We also have quality assurance

programs in place to check and monitor the activities that

everybody does.

Employees in our system do have job descriptions.

Contractors do not have a job description; however, they

have a contract that defines their responsibilities.

Volunteers have area assignments, and they have

task assignments. And so we can break it down very, very

simple or more complex, based upon the skill of our

volunteer. But we always have a supervisor on-site with

the volunteer.

Next slide, please.

Looks like we have a little problem with this

slide. It's probably because at the last minute they had

to reput some things in. So that little stuff at the top

there shouldn't be there. But it does cover everything

that's in the slide.

This is our organization chart. We do not have an

organization chart that is a staffing organization chart

because our staffing is too minimal.

And if you'll look at this organization chart, you

can see these are all the areas we'd love to have a

full-time employee, but we don't. And so it just breaks

our program down into all the different areas that we have.

We have a branch in South Carolina that is part of

our STAR Network, and we do distribute reuse items there

and do other services. But again, we're back to the two

programs, the ReBoot program and the ATRC. And you can see

where the responsibilities are broken off.

But it also indicates that there is a definite need

for cross-training and to have your tasks very specifically

broken out to be able to manage the number of volunteers

and contractors and employees we have but also to be sure

that the product that you're doing gets out there and has

some organizational structure to it.

Next slide.

And lastly, just before you get into the real job

that you're here for today, which is job descriptions, I

have a few tidbits that I wanted to share with you which is

about staffing development and challenges.

There's a lot of ways to look at this. And the way

I see it is service demand determines human resource needs.

Funding determines potential and ability. Marketing

supports the services and the funding. Now, these are all

interrelated. You can't do without any of these three


But in looking at your staffing and where you're

going and some of the challenges to take into

consideration, you need to really look at the agency size,

where you are, and what your potentials are.

And the volume of work that you have has to sustain

your staff, whether you choose a volunteer and bring that

volunteer in and you don't have tasks for them to do, or

whether it's an employee and you bring them on and you're

paying a salary and they have nothing to do because maybe

your capacity isn't there yet. So size is a real important

factor here.

The other things to look at is the types of staff

you have, which we've already pretty well covered that; the

skills of the staff that come on board. A staff comes on

with a certain skill set and a concept of where they think

they are, but then you also can build on those skills, or

you can utilize the skills that your staff come in with.

The environmental availability. What that means is

what's available in your market. Do you have AARP, and is

that possible? Do you have individuals that have technical

background in terms of A+ certifications? Some areas of

our state, they don't have that.

And next would be considering policies and

procedures for orienting, training, and supervising staff.

And I think the thing there is I think this is basic for

any job description that you might write because you've got

to have those bases already established before you can

write a job description. And so it's real important.

I hope this is not interfering, but we have someone

doing the lawn outside. I apologize.

Next you need to take into safety and legal

requirements, what are the requirements. And most

importantly, you always have to supervise your staff. And

I think that's pretty -- really, really come forth to us in

terms of volunteers.

Volunteers like to be busy. Volunteers need to

understand what their tasks are and need to have that

person they can go to on a regular basis.

Next would be activities and past assignments, the

capabilities and the cross-training that goes along with

that. And that's just the way we look at things. We break

a task down to a very simple level. That way we can bring

many different people in at many different skill sets.

Last is quality assurance measures in place. And

that's how you check whether the product that you're

producing or the outcome that's occurring, is it at a

quality level? Have you taken into account all those

things, or did you miss that something wasn't cleaned right

or that you forgot to put a piece of software on the

system? That's what that's about.

And lastly, the availability of the product. And I

think I already touched on that earlier. And that's I've

got to -- to refurbished computers, I've got to have

computers available to me. I can't just expect to have the

staff and then not have the computers. So you've got --

those things to work hand in hand.

And lastly, the funding and the sustainability of

base and special grant funding. And what we mean by that

is we have a grant that is our base grant, which is our

biggest grant, and then we sometimes will get special


Now, if those grants aren't going to sustain

themselves in some way, then are we going to really go

after an employee position, or are we going to need to

consider volunteers or contractors?

And I think with that I'll leave you in the hope

that some of those thoughts will help you in your future

endeavors in developing job descriptions. And thank you.

TRISH REDMON: Does anyone have any questions for

her before we go on? Okay.

Thank you, Joanne. That's a great introduction to

some of the challenges of staffing and how job descriptions

may help us.

Next slide, please.

Okay. Let's look at what we could do even before

we create an organization, which would be ideal and rarely

happens. But job descriptions contribute to program

structure and management even before the hiring process by

defining the staffing structure and helping us to mitigate

legal risks if we do this properly.

So if we look at this, if we create the job

descriptions, we define what our management structure is as

we explain what those reporting relationships are. At the

same time, creating those job descriptions gives us an

opportunity to analyze and create a compensation plan.

This becomes really important. It can also support our

recruitment of the appropriate individuals.

On the risk side, we need to be aware, at least

when we write job descriptions, that we have an obligation

to be compliant with all the federal, state, and local

employment laws, whether they're nondiscrimination or

related to people with disabilities or related to access.

So those are key. And we want to develop policies and

procedures for our entire program that promote a quality AT

reuse program. Defining the job description can help us to

identify accommodations. And we'll look at some of this in

just a bit more detail.

Next slide, please.

Let's talk about defining the management structure.

In the simplest form, job descriptions specify the

relationships by indicating the supervisory

responsibilities and the reporting relationships.

We show those things visually on organization

charts. And we should specify those on job descriptions.

Who does this person report to? Who does this person

supervise? How many people do they supervise? Who are the

organizational peers with whom this person must work to

achieve the program goals? You may want to clarify that in

a job description.

Next slide, please.

Our job descriptions provide a basis for

compensation analysis. Now, we have a real need to analyze

the compensation structure in the program for both internal

and external reasons. For internal reasons we want

employees to perceive that we have a fair compensation

structure and that jobs are compensated based on their

relative worth within the organization.

But on an external basis, having job descriptions

helps us to recruit qualified workers if we have salaries

that are comparable or competitive in the local job market.

And then we have the issue of compliance, if we're

a nonprofit, that we're not allowed to pay more than

reasonable compensation for a position. And reasonable

compensation, as defined by the IRS, is the amount that

would ordinarily be paid for like services by like

organizations in like circumstances.

And we know that rarely do nonprofits pay more than

for-profits, but that is a concern. And sometimes it's a

concern that you can abuse salaries in the management side

of nonprofits.

Next slide, please.

Good job descriptions help us with recruiting. If

we write accurate job descriptions, then we have the

specific information that we should be able to use to

prepare the internal postings for vacancies, to do online

job postings, and to pull the details of the core duties if

we choose to advertise that job. And those are the keys.

And again, as you're posting vacancies, you have other

compliance issues.

We used to joke about people who wrote very

specific, targeted ads a long time ago when I worked in the

newspaper because we would say, "Oh, they've already

decided who they'll hire, and so they ran an ad for that

red-headed engineer that they wanted."

You're not allowed to do that sort of thing. So

you need to be aware of those situations. But having a

good job description does help you specify what it is that

you're looking for. I know that some of you do advertise

your vacancies online on your program website. And I think

that's a really good thing to do.

Next slide, please.

As we look at job descriptions, the written job

descriptions are a good tool to help us comply with laws.

And we're faced with compliance with nondiscrimination

laws, federal; some people have state laws; some areas have

local laws. There are cities that have laws. So the

extent of them depends on where you live, but you do have

the nondiscrimination issue.

You also have equal-pay laws. You have

age-discrimination issues. You have issues not

discriminating against persons with disabilities. And if

you're dealing with contracting people, there are special

provisions that relate to Vietnam veterans and using those

as contractors. So you need to be aware of all the

federal, state, and local statutes that may affect your


And job descriptions don't mention any of these

laws, but the job description can play an important role in

litigation related to employment laws. So this can keep

you out of trouble if you have a disgruntled employee


Next slide, please.

So how might those job descriptions mitigate your

risk? Well, the job description may be used in court to

determine whether discrimination actually occurred. It may

be used to determine if an injured worker was returned to

his or her former position under the Family and Medical

Leave Act. It may be considered to determine whether the

employee qualified as exempt from overtime pay. That's a

Fair Labor Standards Act provision.

How did you write this job description? Are you

calling this person a manager to make them exempt from

overtime and asking them to work 60 hours a week, and this

person's not really doing management or supervisory jobs?

They may also be used to determine what consists of

reasonable accommodations under ADA. And if you're in a

situation -- I suspect few of us are in this, but you might

be, even in some government organizations.

If you're in a situation where you have a union and

your workforce is organized, job descriptions can be used

and considered in union grievances to determine who's left

out of the bargaining unit. And that can be a very

contentious issue if you're in that situation.

And we have the issue of an employee who's been ill

or injured cease his position. How is that physician going

to determine whether that employee is ready to return to

work? Well, first they need to understand what kind of

work that employee does. And so the essential job

functions are good guidance there.

Next slide, please.

But a big part of our focus today is going to be on

clarifying operational issues. If we write our job

descriptions well, then we have a roadmap for the roles

that people will play on the team that will accomplish the

goals for the reuse program.

So we want to do a good job of describing your

duties and responsibilities, specifying those supervisory

and reporting relationships.

At the same time, we want to define the standards

for how we're going to assess their performance on that

job. If we do this, then we've created a tool that will

assist us in analyzing and improving our program

operations. So let's examine how good job descriptions can

help us in that.

First of all, job descriptions help us to clarify

the responsibilities delegated to each specific position.

At our national task force meeting in May, Sara Sack from

Kansas asked us to revise the language of one of the

quality indicators, and it was the indicator related to

tracking recalled devices.

But at the same time, she said this is very

important, and it should be on someone's job description.

And I've done that. And that made me think about our

quality indicators and how we have, with each indicator, a

whole series of factors for consideration for whether

you're meeting that indicator.

And in some cases those factors for consideration

are really tasks or activities that you should be doing.

And so there's a helpful checklist. Whose job does that

quality indicator affect? So we're going to talk a little

bit more about that because that really triggered

something. Here's a way we really look at job descriptions

to ensure that we're doing this.

So who's responsible for the key factors in your

promise and practices? And do all the key responsibilities

appear on someone's job description?

You may find there are really big holes. So in one

way you could take your job descriptions, you could take

the indicators of quality, and do a little session of gap

analysis. What's missing?

And as Joanne pointed out, few of us have a very

large staff. So a handful of people may be really

overloaded with tasks, but it's still important to know

who's responsible for this part of our mission.

Next, please.

As I was thinking about this issue with Sara, I

thought, Now, how would we do this? And so I've created a

very simple worksheet. This started out as an Excel

spreadsheet, but at the moment we can't load Excel

spreadsheets. That's about to be changed very shortly, but

I had to convert my Excel spreadsheet to a Word document.

But it's in your work package.

But at the simplest level, this is a list of all

the quality indicators by category. And what I've done is

simply take a series of position titles and put them at the

top of my grid. And so I can sit down and say, "Who's job

is this? Device tracking. Who's really responsible for


But before you get started, you might want to walk

through the little worksheet and just highlight only those

indicators that apply to your program because, if you

haven't used our indicators of quality online program

assessment tool, you would find that that's always an

option. You're the one who determines, based on the

activities and your organizational structure, whether this

indicator of quality is relevant for your program.

But walk through and highlight the ones that apply

to you. Obviously if you don't refurbish computers, lots

of these don't apply to you under "Program Operations."

But after you highlight those, then you could go

back and take each position and go through and say, "Does

this impact this position? Does this person have a

responsibility related to this specific quality indicator?"

And so that you can see all the factors, I attached

our report format for the quality indicators in the work

package. So if you want to print the whole package and

just read them all hard copy, you can do that.

So this would give you a chance to look at it, add

a checkmark, and then pull your job descriptions and see if

you have mentioned this responsibility or these activities

in that person's job description.

Next slide, please.

Writing good job descriptions gives you a really

good roadmap for interviewing. If we want to have really

targeted interviews and not just chats to see if we really

have a good rapport with the person, then we wanted to know

how successful they're going to be at performing those

major duties.

And so if we review those major duties, then it

should prompt questions that we can ask the candidates

about their experience. Have they done this before? Or

have they done something similar? Or do they have some

education or training or an aptitude to perform those


Next, please.

At the same time as we're doing this, we're

analyzing how to improve the program's performance. This

is allowing us to identify the gaps in responsibility, to

identify tasks and activities that need to be performed,

and to analyze the logic of reporting relationships.

Sometimes if you go through this, you'll decide

that maybe you don't have the program organized in the way

that's most efficient for working teams.

Next, please.

We mentioned this briefly: All employees should

have job descriptions. This clarifies for them what their

duties and responsibilities are and how you expect them to

perform them.

Contractors are a different story. And Joanne

mentioned this, that contractors have contracts. You can

spell out very specifically what the task assignments and

the timelines for completion are. And you can have

performance clauses that specify standards that have to be


But you do need to be careful with contractors

because, if your organization is covered by the Fair Labor

Standards Act, you don't want to fall over into the risky

position of treating a contractor as an employee. And if

you have any questions about that, then you might want to

go read up on those provisions because there are lots of

factors that are considered legally about whether a person

is an employee or a contractor.

The degree of supervision, how you tell them to do

the work, whether they work like a normal employee -- all

those things are factors in whether this person is really

an employee. And when you have contractors, as Joanne

does, who work within the organization and perform regular

duties, that becomes a very serious issue for you. Someone

can retroactively claim that they were truly an employee

and not a contractor. So you might want to deal with that.

And as we said about volunteers, if they perform

regular work, it's really worthwhile to define in basic

terms the duties and expectations as well as provide some

training about how the tasks are to be done because, for

one thing, volunteer pools may be a good source of

recruitment for you.

You may have someone who's volunteered in your

organization who might like to be considered if a real

position comes open. So those are the issues to consider

in terms of where you have job descriptions.

And today we're going to talk about writing the job

description. This is definitely not one of the exciting

things on a list. I've lived through this several times in

my life. It's never been something I thought was a great

thing to look forward to. But I have discovered that it

can be made fairly simple and straightforward.

And one way to do that is to use a job

questionnaire. That's part of your working package today.

A job questionnaire helps you to collect the information

that you need.

Now, if you have a person who -- if the position is

filled and you have someone incumbent in it or more than

one person in that same position, it might be useful to ask

those people to fill out the questionnaire themselves.

You'll still want to do it as an administrator, but

you might compare what they're doing or their perception of

the job to your own perception of the job.

In the end you have to do the questionnaire and

write the job description. But this is a useful tool and

will make life much simpler when you start transferring

things into a form.

Next slide, please.

And before we talk about the form, let me emphasize

this is only one of hundreds of ways to write job

descriptions. Different organizations have different

formats. But by and large, they collect basically this

same kind of information.

We're going to start with the simplest of things:

What's the title; what department or work area is this

person in; who's the supervisor of this position.

And you might want to indicate where this person

works because where this person works becomes a factor in

terms of the kinds of orientation and training they need.

And by that I mean, if you have more than one location, do

they work between locations? If they're in one facility,

are they working in your warehouse? Are they working in an


Next slide, please.

We want to specify what the essential job functions

are. Essential job functions are a critical factor in

disability discrimination claims. So you want to specify

this really clearly.

And when we talk "essential," we're talking about

core functions. And that's something that job descriptions

frequently do not do that I think is very helpful.

Separate the core responsibilities from the supporting

responsibilities. Let's get at which ones are really


You can take this to the point on performance

evaluation of actually weighting core responsibilities and

the ratings that you give them more heavily than you do

those supporting responsibilities because that's the

important part of their job.

And we only want to have five or six core

responsibilities. If we have an AT repair technician, we

can assume that he's going to repair medical equipment.

That means he's going to disassemble it and inspect it;

he's going to replace parts; he may actually do repairs in

which he uses tools to tighten or align things. This says

"Installs modified parts." We don't mean to remanufacture

it. We mean replacement parts. And he may be responsible

for cleaning, lubricating, and polishing the components so

that they work well.

Next slide, please.

The scope of the person's responsibility is really

important in terms of evaluating them. How many people do

they supervise? How much financial responsibility do they

have? How big is the budget for their area? How many

assets do they manage? What degree of impact do they have

on your operation? Is this one of the two most valuable

people in the operation, and you can't live without them?

So next, please.

So as we do this, we list their primary activities.

And you may want to indicate whether this is the only

person who does that or if it's shared with someone else.

You may want to show what percentage of time should be

devoted to this activity in an average week. That stresses

its importance.

If you identify five major activities and list them

in order of importance, then you've given the candidate a

focus on what this job is about when you do interviews.

Another thing that's helpful in those interviews

would be to describe two of the most difficult problems

they might encounter in a year and ask them how they would

handle them.

Next, please.

If you look at the form -- and I've done a snapshot

of just a portion of the job questionnaire here -- you will

see how it's used to collect information.

And in this little piece of the form on here, you

see that we have the list of responsibilities and

activities and the percentage of time that people spend on


Now, if you ask the incumbents to do this

questionnaire and they tell you the percentage of time, you

may be surprised by the percentage of time they're

spending, and it might not mesh with your perception of

what that should be.

We do want to be careful -- next, please -- to list

occasional duties and special assignments and estimate the

time required and maybe tell them about the frequency of

the task.

You might not want to surprise your office people

by having them discover that you would really like the

entire staff to participate in three or four donation

drives each year and that these are usually Saturday events

and are going to take up the better part of their day.

This may not be part of their plan. But if you expect the

entire workforce to participate in that, then you may want

to discuss that.

Next, please.

As you're writing job descriptions, think about the

relationships. We often get so task focused that we lose

sight of the fact that the things that drive success in our

programs are the working relationships, both internally and


And so what kinds of skills are required to

interact with these different customer groups? You have

internal customers and other departments. You have

external customers who are the AT users who come to you for

devices; people who donate devices; maybe vendors who

donate devices or help you with repairs. You may work with

other organizations that support your program.

How is this position going to interact, and is that

an important part of what they do? If so, you may want to

be specific in job descriptions about the customer groups

with which the person will interact and what you want.

Next, please.

We usually do a good job of defining the knowledge

and skills that we want from people. Sometimes we overkill

that. And this is not a joke when I offer you this picture

of someone doing donuts and saying, "So how does a degree

in chemistry help me?"

We often overstate the requirements. This is not a

good thing to do because you don't want to require

experience and skills beyond what you really need because

it may impair your recruiting ability.

So don't say you need five years' experience for a

job if the person probably learns what they need to know

the first year and repeats that experience four more times.

Now, you may get maturity, but you may not improve the


And we don't need to specify that everyone must

have a valid driver's license if you're never going to ask

some of those people to drive a vehicle for company

business. So beware of unrealistic requirements that will

limit your pool of applicants.

But do focus on the knowledge you need to perform

the job, and specify some alternative forms that they might

use to acquire that knowledge. It can be education or

formal training, or it may be on-the-job training. And we

know that in reuse programs we have a lot of on-the-job

training. That's how a lot of people learn things.

If you do ask for specific skills or credentials,

you need to have a method of verifying those. So you may

want to tell people you're really going to check those.

And then you may want to be clear about why people need

these skills.

Next, please.

Supervisory responsibility we've mentioned. We

want to list the titles of the positions the person

supervises, indicate the number of people in each role, and

define that level of supervisory responsibility.

Next, please.

Operating responsibilities. This gets into a key

area that sometimes we don't describe adequately.

What is the decision-making and authority that this

person has? So we want to list the functions for which the

position is responsible and maybe talk about the kinds of

decisions the individual must make to fulfill those job

descriptions -- those job functions.

At the same time, to really build a team it might

be helpful to describe the decision-making related to other

departments or functions. And we use words like "works

with" or "participates in."

Every team depends on good working relationships.

This is true in some places more than others. So we want

to be sure that all these people are working together and

they understand the significance of what they do as it

relates to another area.

You may have people who assign devices, but it's

someone else's job to enter into your inventory system the

details about the device that was assigned to that person.

We want to make sure we close the loop on some of these


Next, please.

Financial responsibilities. How much money is this

person in charge of? How big is their budget for salaries

or supplies or payments for services? Are they responsible

for taking the cash donations?

Now, there are lots of accounting rules about who

handles cash and how they handle it. But that's an

important thing.

So the job descriptions perhaps should define the

responsibilities that have financial implications, whether

it's inventory, leases, purchasing, supplies.

Next, please.

What's their involvement in personnel and

administrative responsibility? Does this person

participate in recruiting, interviewing, selecting people

not only in their own area or in others?

Do they evaluate the performance of the people who

work for them? We would assume that performance is

evaluated by the direct supervisor. But in some

organizations people don't practice that. So let's look at

whether they're involved in that performance evaluation

and, thereby, in determination decisions if you confront

disciplinary actions.

Next, please.

So as we go through this, most of these things are

in the questionnaire. So getting from the questionnaire to

job description, you review this and transfer this

information to the formal language of the job description.

And I've created a couple of examples for you. And

the one that's in the work package I think is an intake

coordinator that shows you -- okay. Here's one format.

And as I said before, this is not the only format. There

are many formats you may use for job descriptions.

This is one. You might want to take this if you

don't have job descriptions, modify it to fit your own


But after you have completed these, it would be a

good idea to have an HR professional or, if you have access

to an attorney, an attorney review them just to keep you

out of any legal hot water.

Next, please.

Now that you've written a job description, don't

just file it. We want to use it. So we can use the job

description for recruiting, as we mentioned earlier. You

may want to share all the job descriptions with all the

managers so they really understand how the organization is

mapped for optimal performance.

I certainly think it's a wonderful idea to give the

incumbent, if there is one, a copy of the job description.

If, when you rewrite this job description, you've made

changes, then you need to explain to that person how any

changes you made affect their duties and your expectations.

And if they don't meet some of the requirements in a

revised job description, you need to explain to them what

path will be afforded them to do that.

You may want to go ahead and create interview

questions based on the job description. And we'll talk in

just a minute about how to create a customized performance


And as we said, another good use is to take this

job description and your indicators-of-quality list and

compare it to your policies and procedures. You expect all

of these people to be complying with policies and

procedures. Do you have it mapped out so that they can use

the job descriptions and everyone is accountable?

So very quickly -- next slide, please.

Even though we're not going to talk at length about

performance evaluation, let's just touch on that.

We use performance evaluation to develop employees.

It's not a punitive measure. It's supposed to be a

positive, ongoing process to work with employees, to help

them meet the expectations, to plan goals that contribute

to the mission achievement. And the performance evaluation

helps us document performance management steps.

Now, as you might conclude, doing this properly

means it's not an annual process. But our goal is to say

how do we do this quickly and have one really tailored to

our need?

Next slide, please.

And the way we do that is we take the job

description we wrote, and we transform it into a customized

performance evaluation for that employee. We identify the

elements for the cover sheet. We determine the scale for

evaluation. And there are always lots of scales in these,

too, and many ways that people choose to evaluate.

And people argue about how many points we want to

have on the scale. And if you've participated in

measurement, you know there are a lot of good arguments

about things you don't do and how many points you have.

But define what the point on the scale means and how it's


And then identify a set of skills and behaviors

that you expect of all your employees, not just this one.

So let's look at the skills and behaviors that will be

universally evaluated for all workers, and then you'll have

a section of this job description that's common to


Next, please.

We're just going to take the job description we

wrote, and we're going to transfer to the performance

evaluation the major responsibilities and identify the core

responsibilities versus the supporting ones. And we're

going to use some language, just a little bit of narrative

or verbiage, to define what must be done to meet the

expectations of the job.


I touched briefly on changing a job description.

What might change a job description? Well, lots of things

change a job description.

New activities. If your program activities change

and you add a new activity or you have a new way of

performing an existing activity, then your program

activities changed and maybe a job description.

For example, if you grow enough that you move from

sanitizing all of your devices manually to buying automated

cleaning equipment, then you've changed the job, and

perhaps you want to update the job description, because at

that point they need to know new things to operate the

equipment properly.

Maybe you changed the market you serve. Maybe you

have a bigger geography, so you have distribution issues.

Maybe you've changed the customer groups you serve and

you've begun to focus on a new group or a broader group.

Maybe the growth in your program has simply driven change

so that now you have enough people that you can afford to

have more supervisors, more dedicated work groups.

And as you expand, you need to look at how that

affects the overall job descriptions and the assignments of

duties and responsibilities.


And then I touched briefly on what happens if you

change a job description. Then you look for the changes in

duties, responsibilities, and reporting relationships. And

if the position is filled, you review it and explain to the

person what you're going to do.

Only in very rare circumstances would it be

appropriate for you to simply take a person and say, "I've

rewritten your job description, and you can no longer have

that job."

If you are in the position where you have someone

that you've been addressing performance issues with for a

long time, that might be the case. But you need to be very

careful in doing that.

In most cases we want to say, "We need to change

what your job description is and what your duties and

responsibilities are in this area. And here's how we're

going to help you to be trained or get the development that

you need to do that job well."

So update your org chart, if necessary. And then

review your compensation plan again. It's always a

challenge to keep internal fairness in compensation plans

as people grow.

In summary, applying the process. If we develop

job descriptions that accurately reflect what the worker is

expected to do and the requirements for the job, then we

have given ourselves an additional tool for improving

performance in the program.

We can compare the duties and the job descriptions

to the indicators of quality for AT reuse and assure that

key responsibilities appear on someone's job description.

We can use those job descriptions to build a

reasonable compensation plan to recruit workers who meet

those needs and to drive performance in the organization.

We can also use those job descriptions sometimes to

mitigate our legal risk if we are faced with any challenge

about whether we are in compliance with the prevailing

employment laws.

Any questions? Mostly this is one of those

sessions where we're giving you a tool, and it's really up

to you whether you have put together all the tools and want

to address how you can improve the program performance or

mitigate some legal risks by improving your existing job


We have a question. It says, "Can you elaborate on

Vietnam veterans in regard to contractor situations?"

I'm not thoroughly familiar with that. I would

have to look that up. Vietnam veterans I believe get some

preferences in contracting situations, and this may only be

government. That's something I will look up for you and

get back to you, Joanne.

But I know there is a requirement that we give some

preferential treatment. Just as, in government jobs, often

veterans get extra points toward federal government

positions, there's actually a law about contracting that

gives some preferential treatment to Vietnam veterans.

Anyone else?

Well, we thank you for attending today. We hope

you found this useful.

We would really like you to evaluate our

performance, as we do every webinar. And you can go

directly to the website and do the SurveyMonkey survey and

tell us how useful you found this.

If you have other questions about job descriptions

or the use of the quality indicators for AT reuse, please

send us an e-mail. Thank you.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: All right. That was really

good. Thank you so much, Trish. Really appreciate you

pulling this together and walking us through that.

I've been doing this for years, and I was taking

notes as to things that I already know how we can apply

this knowledge. So thank you very, very much.

We really appreciate Cathy Valdez from Project MEND

again sharing your expertise and wisdom with us. Thank you

very, very much.

And also Joanne Willis from Touch the Future Inc.

Once again, we appreciate you sharing your knowledge and

your wisdom with us too.

Do y'all have any other questions? I think this

was very helpful information that was shared. And I

especially appreciate the tools, Trish, that you pulled

together to help the conversation continue and for us to

apply this directly to the work that we're doing in the

field. I'll give just a second for questions.

Joanne, you said you did not download the packet.

Yes, it's up there. You can download that. Just go to website. Go to our knowledge base,

and you can click where it says "New to the Knowledge

Base," and the information is there. So you sure can

download it. Hope that answers your question.

TRISH REDMON: I would like to note that we have

loaded, with the job descriptions article in the knowledge

base, probably a dozen different job descriptions that are

real job descriptions from active AT reuse programs.

They will not be in this format because they were

written long before this. But if you'd like to see some

sample job descriptions from other programs, go to the job

descriptions article in the knowledge base and look at all

the attachments, and you'll see some real job descriptions

that you might want to use in building your own.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: All right. Well, feel free to

get in touch with us. You've got our e-mail addresses

here. Trish and Liz and I are pretty easy. It's,, or You can also reach Joy at You can reach Cathy Valdez at and Joanne Willis at

So thank you for your time this afternoon. Hope

you did learn something through this webinar -- I sure did,

as I said -- something that you can apply.

And we definitely would like to hear from you. So

I'm going to put this information up once again about the

SurveyMonkey. You can actually just go to SurveyMonkey and

evaluate our webinar there.

So any way, y'all take care, and thanks again.