Job Task Analysis

Job task analysis is widely recognized as the foundation of successful training. Before managers can train their employees, they must decide what the trainees need to learn.

Before managers can train their employees, they must decide what the employees need to learn. Careful analysis of a job is the foundation for training development and successful training.

Job analysis is the process of determining which tasks each employee needs to perform and the standards at which he or she must perform them. The job analysis process produces three important tools that will help a manager train:

-Task lists

-Job breakdowns

-Job performance standards

A task list provides the tool with which to plan employee training. A task list should be prepared for each category of employee to be trained (for example, secretaries, salespeople, panel builders, prep cooks, electrical technicians). It lists all of the tasks that must be performed by an employee in a given position.

Effective task lists begin each task with a verb¡Xthe verb that describes what the employee must do. The list states all the specific duties that the employee must perform¡Xeven if the task is not one that is performed frequently.

According to Lew Forrest in his 1990 textbook, Training for the Hospitality Industry (East Lansing, Mich.: Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Motel Association, 1990, p. 29), managers should ask themselves the following questions when creating a task list:

-What specific duties must an employee perform?

-What units of work must be completed?

-What materials must be handled?

-What equipment must be operated?

-What administrative chores must be completed?

-What cleaning requirements are part of the job?

There are many ways that a manager can gather data for creating a task list. Some techniques include interviewing employees in each position, observing employees as they work, participating in the actual performance of the work, and reviewing standard operating procedures and previous written standards.

A sample task list for a receptionist at a large corporation might read:

PARK in the designated area.

WEAR proper uniform.

WEAR employee identification


COMMUNICATE with the reception supervisor.

GREET vendors, customers, and other guests.

DETERMINE the needs of vendors, customers, and other guests.

ANNOUNCE vendors, customers, and other guests to the person they are visiting.

PROVIDE directions for vendors, customers, and guests.

ANSWER telephone.

HANDLE messages.

SORT incoming mail.

COLLECT employees¡¦ outgoing mail.

COMPLETE maintenance log sheet.

COMMUNICATE with security personnel.

PUNCH out.

Each task on a task list needs its own job breakdown that tells how to perform the task. The job breakdown lists the task¡¦s steps, how the employee should perform the steps, and how well he or she should perform them. The exact format for a job breakdown can vary depending on the needs of the business and the preferences of the manager doing the training.

Job breakdowns incorporate standard operating procedures and specify how job duties must be performed to meet the business¡¦ standards. The amount of detail in a job breakdown will depend upon the complexity of the task.

Job breakdowns have many uses. They include:

-Planning training

-Creating lesson plans for training

-Setting standards for evaluation

-Creating outlines for operating procedures manuals

-Preparing job descriptions and help wanted postings

Some companies even adapt their job breakdown sheets into a performance appraisal form.

The steps and ¡§how to¡¦s¡¨ of a job breakdown should be written in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. They should also be extremely detailed so that it is clear what the standard is and how to accomplish it. The exact amount of detail may vary. There are some tasks that allow for a great deal of creativity on the part of the employee and the exact method of how to perform the task is not as important as the end result. Other tasks, especially those involving safety or sanitation, must be spelled out very carefully. For example, in a foodservice operation, the ¡§how-to¡¦s¡¨ for washing hands might read:

-Scrub both sides of your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

-Rinse the soap from your hands.

-Dry your hands with single-use paper towels.

Employees need to know to what degree they are expected to perform their jobs and what performance level is considered ¡§meeting standards.¡¨ Managers need specific and objective standards against which to measure work performance.

Job performance standards are statements that describe or clarify the levels of employee performance that are acceptable to the business. They may be expressed as minimum performance levels or as desired performance levels. They also must include measurements on what the performance level is.

Examples of performance standards include:

-Smile pleasantly to every person entering the lobby.

-Answer telephones within three rings.

-Convert two of every five phone calls into a sale.

-Assemble unit within three minutes with a 95% quality assurance pass rate.

Performance standards should be established for every task on the task list.

The business must have employees who can do their jobs at a level that meets basic quality and quantity standards. These same performance standards used for training can also be used on an ongoing basis to evaluate the employee¡¦s performance on the job. Performance standards are tools to help improve employee performance throughout the employee¡¦s career.

Once these three tools have been created, the trainer is ready to assess how his or her employees measure up to each of the standards. The results of this assessment will reveal in which tasks employees need training. The tools can also act as a blueprint to develop the necessary training.

© High Speed Ventures 2011