Job Specifications – A Refresher (Part 1)

During each HR Risk Audit that RWA conducts, we always ask to see examples of job specifications. Often these are little more than the sort of thing you would use to advertise a job vacancy, so we thought a timely reminder of what a job specification for regulatory purposes should contain would be of use.

What are we trying to demonstrate in a regulatory job specification?

The Regulator wants to know that the employee is competent for the job role that they do, at any moment in time. Not what they might do, or what you would like them to be able to do, but what they do, right now. That means being clear about:

  1. The job tasks that the employee must perform in their role;
  2. The knowledge that they need to be able to do those tasks competently, and
  3. The necessary skills they should demonstrate to be able to apply them to the relevant situations.

To enable you to decide what training needs exist, you need to be able to identify their knowledge and skill deficiencies.

Think about the following questions:

  • Do all your employees need to know the same things?
  • Do they all perform the same duties and functions?

The answer may be yes, particularly if you are a very small firm. However, for most brokers, the answer will be no. While some jobs may have a similar root – Account Handler, for example, don’t be tempted to adopt the ‘sheep dip’ approach by treating every employee in the same way. Also, why overload employees with knowledge that they do not need and will not use in the course of their normal duties?

For each employee, or group of employees undertaking a similar role, (like our Account Handler example) specific training needs should be identified, and a plan developed that will meet those needs.

A gap analysis will enable you to identify where the knowledge deficiencies lie – if you are using the Development Zone, this can be easily achieved. Having identified the gap, you are then in a position to set a target date for achievement of the objective and the method for checking that it has been achieved. In this way, you can target each gap and sign each one off systematically.

The first step then, to identifying what knowledge and skill deficiencies may exist, is determining the precise nature of the employee’s job role. Look back at points 1, 2 and 3 at the beginning of this article. It is not enough to simply know that an employee is an Account Handler - you must identify exactly what tasks he or she is required to perform and achieve in the course of their everyday work; this is often referred to as ‘outputs’.

For example:

Employee: Jane Doe

Job Title: Account Handler

1. What is Jane expected to achieve? (The ‘output’ required).

Sales of motor, household, and building policies.

2. What skills will she need to be able to achieve this? (The ‘competencies’ required).

Telephone and face to face interaction with customers.

3. What does she need to competently sell each of these policies?

  • Knowledge
  • Understanding
  • Application skills

This seems fairly straightforward. But you need to be very clear what each of those last three areas means for the purpose of demonstrating competence. This will be the subject of our next instalment!

About the author

Kate is the chairman and co-founder of RWA and has worked for the company for nearly 20 years. She is a fan of developing practical, workable, business-led policies and procedures. Kate has specialist training experience within the financial services sector, including major general insurers, and the Lloyd’s underwriting and broking market.  She has researched and developed numerous training programmes, both for commercial and in-house use.  She has extensive experience of developing in-house and public training programmes for business skills, including Diversity, Employment Law, Management and Leadership, Motivation, Coaching and Feedback, Communication Skills and EQ.

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