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Lead Your Team Managing

You Do What? Why a Clear Job Description Is Essential

You Do What? Why a Clear Job Description Is Essential
Workers with unclear job descriptions can have negative professional repercussions. / Credit: Worker Image via Shutterstock

If people in your office don't really understand what you do, it's time to make sure they do. New research has found that workers who need to explain their jobs to other people in the company are paid less and are less satisfied in their careers.

"If people don't understand what you do, they tend to devalue what you do," said Michael Pratt, professor of management and organization at Boston College and co-author of the study. "They don't understand why you're making all this money. 'Why should I pay you all this money?'  is a common question these professionals keep hearing."

Questions about money and job tasks can also negatively impact workers in another way. In particular, professionals suffer from lower job satisfaction as a result of questions about what they do.

[11 Things That Make Workers Happy]

"I assumed professionals would actually get over it, that there would be frustration, it would be an interpersonal problem, and that would be the extent of it," Pratt said. "I didn't think it would have such a big impact on how they did their job, how it affected their pay and how they performed. I was surprised at the depth of how this affected job performance. It's not simply annoying – it has real impact."

For the research, Pratt examined 24 architects, 13 nurse practitioners, 17 litigation attorneys and 31 certified public accountants. The researchers picked those professions because they often have to explain their job tasks and functions to prospective clients and customers.

Additionally, clients often question those professionals about why they should hire them. For example, Pratt found that clients question why they should hire an architect if they can hire a contractor instead, or why they would talk to a nurse when they need a doctor instead.

Those workers do have hope, though. Pratt suggests professionals clearly describe their job tasks and functions to clients, demonstrate their job skills, and get to know clients in order to avoid confusion about their jobs.

 "Even in situations in which it appears that clients do understand a profession, it may be appropriate for a professional to manage clients' expectations to maintain initial trust, as gaining trust back after it has been lost may be even more difficult than gaining trust in the first place," Pratt said.

The research was published in the Academy of Management Journal.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Dave Mielach
Dave Mielach

Dave started writing for BusinessNewsDaily as a freelance writer in May 2011 and was hired as a staff writer in October 2011. He graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in Communication and a business minor. Prior to writing for BusinessNewsDaily, he interned at The Poughkeepsie Journal and two Marist College publications. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Dave on .

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