Sunday, June 19, 2011

Job Analysis

Job analysis is a way to describe the tasks of a job and the attributes necessary to accomplish them effectively (Spector, 2008). There are two basic approaches to job analysis, the job-oriented and the person-oriented approaches. The former provides information about the job and the important tasks associated with it, and the latter describes the attributes necessary for the job. Job analysis provides an apparently simple function, although it is an essential and foundational component upon which other functions are built (Spector, 2008). Although performance appraisals are often limited by the frailty of human accuracy, they are an equally essential component in maintaining employee compliance, safety, and well-being within the organization (Spector, 2008).

Functional Job Analysis: Sommelier


Sommeliers assist customers to identify wines that complement their meals and their tastes. They develop wine lists, advise customers on food and wine pairings, maintain wine stock, store wines appropriately, and tastes wines. Individuals must have knowledge and extensive experience in fine dining. This job has a limited amount of supervision and individuals must be self-motivated (Occupational Informational Network, 2006).

Knowledge ranked by importance

Using categories designed by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the most important knowledge attributes include customer and personal service, sales and marketing, English language, food production, mathematics, clerical, and psychology (Occupational Informational Network, 2006).

Skills ranked by importance

The most important skills include service orientation, speaking, active listening, social perceptiveness, reading comprehension, product inspection, and information gathering (Occupational Informational Network, 2006).

Abilities Ranked by Importance

Elements of ability are memorization, oral expression, speech clarity, oral comprehension, manual dexterity, information ordering, auditory attention, speech recognition, written comprehension, fluency of ideas, originality, selective attention, and problem sensitivity.

Work Activities Ranked by Importance

Work activities include judging qualities of things, services, or people, communicating with persons outside the organization, monitoring and controlling resources, providing consultation and advice to others, establishing and maintaining relationships, and selling or influencing others (Occupational Informational Network, 2006) .

Work Context Ranked by Importance

This job position provides service to others, works indoors, deals with customers, stands most of the time, requires social interaction, persuasion, using hands-on tools, and constant walking.

Functional Job Analysis (FJA) is a person-oriented job analysis, which uses observations and interviews with experts and experienced operators to provide adequate and multi-dimensional descriptions of jobs while clarifying relevant tasks and necessary experience for potential employees (Fine, 1974). FJA enables organizations to achieve statistical reliability in defining job information, clarify training needs, and support employee growth as an essential component of the organization (Fine, 1974). FJA scores on different aspects of a job, and uses the same dimensions on all job descriptions making it easier to make comparisons (United States Department of Labor, 1991). This type of job analysis clarifies employees' tasks and the attributes necessary for their accomplishment, defines attributes necessary for advancement, and sets criteria by which employees will be evaluated (Spector, 2008). FJA contributes valuable information for setting salaries, job classifications, design and planning, and accommodates legal compliance to fairness in employment (Spector, 2008).

Evaluation of Reliability and Validity of Functional Job Analysis

FJA is a reliable and valuable tool for defining and describing many dimensions of a job. Evidence suggests levels of validity are highest when information is obtained by a variety of sources, such as incumbents, supervisors, or managers. Functional job analysis contains subjective data, and depends on the accuracy, objectivity, and analytical ability of its information sources (Spector, 2008). Measuring the consistency, reliability, and validity of non-quantitative data is difficult. Although research suggests reasonable validity in most job analysis, Spector (2008) suggests there has been inadequate research focused on the validity of job analysis in general. The descriptive data for FJA listed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, and in the Department of Labor's O*NET online database were obtained from a wide variety of sources, and descriptions are reasonably valid, reliable, and accurate (United States Department of Labor, 1991).

Various Performance Appraisal Methods

The two commonly used appraisal methods are objective performance measures and subjective judgments (Spector, 2008). Objective measures are quantitative counts of specific behaviors such as sick days taken, sales amounts or number of accounts opened. Subjective measures are assessments made by supervisors or other superiors in a position to observe and scrutinize the employee's performance. Research supports the usefulness of both methods, although when both are applied to the same employee, the two assessments do not necessarily agree on the quality of performance (Spector, 2008).

Objective Measures of Job Performance

The five common objective measures of job performance are absences, accidents, incidents at work, late arrivals, and productivity. All of these categories account for behaviors that affect performance. Records are usually kept on these facts and are easily accessed for performance appraisals. For effectiveness, the objective measure used to assess performance must match the nature of the work accomplished (Spector, 2008).

Subjective Measures

Subjective measure assessments are used more often than objective ones, but are subject to personal bias and the mistakes of human judgment. Rating forms help to increase accuracy of appraisals. The Graphic Rating Form is the most popular type of subjective measure and assesses several dimensions of an individual's performance. The Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales are measures that present with vertical scale points ranging from five to nine (Spector, 2008). In the mixed standard scales the rater must indicate how closely an employee fits the statement, exceeds the statement, or is not as good as the statement (Dickinson & Zellinger, 1980; Spector, 2008).

Benefits and Vulnerabilities of Performance Appraisal Methods

Schwab, Heneman, and De Cotiis (1975) question whether "performance should be viewed and measured as a single overall composite, or as a multidimensional construct consisting of several independent performance dimensions" (p. 550). The meaning of objective measures can be easy to interpret in relation to job performance criteria (Spector, 2008). Numerical measures do not have to be interpreted, and they can be compared across various jobs. Furthermore, objective measures can be associated to the goals of the business, and easily maintained in organizational records, enabling easier future performance appraisals (Spector, 2008).

Objective performance measures are limited in jobs that do not use countable production or when productivity is not part of job performance. Furthermore, some criteria are not well described, such as determining the acceptable number of absences that reflect good job performance (Spector, 2008). Saved data can be erroneous and inaccurate, and may contain attribution errors. In using objective performance measures, incidents may go unreported along with omissions from biased individuals. Unfortunately, this type of measurement considers quantity rather than quality and lacks consideration for the broader scope of the employee's performance (Spector, 2008).

Subjective rating scales provide a more dimensional picture of employee performance. Rather than limiting appraisal to quantitative data, it includes qualitative information, which, in many jobs is far more important to an organization's bottom line in the long-term (Spector, 2008). Although subjective rating scales are an accurate method for rating behavior and performance, they can be unreliable, contain leniency biases, and suffer the raters' inability to discriminate between different aspects of performance (Kingstrom & Bass, 1981). Subjective rating scales rely on the inaccuracies of human judgment, the rater's mood, perceptions, culture, and other factors. Providing feedback from multiple sources can help to reduce human bias.


Job analysis and performance appraisal are foundational components of a successful relationship between an organization and its employees. Job analysis establishes and documents the all-encompassing nature of a job and the company's employment procedures including training, selection, compensation, and performance appraisal. Performance appraisal is an essential component in judging the relative worth of an employee (Spector, 2008). Both elements are crucial for organizations to obtain, maintain, and support a valuable, efficient, and cohesive workforce, and both are central themes in organizational success.


Dickinson, T. L., & Zellinger, P. M. (1980). A comparison of the behaviorally anchored rating and mixed standard scale formats. Journal of Applied Psychology, 65(2), 147-154. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.65.2.147

Fine, S. A. (1974). Functional job analysis: an approach to a technology for manpower planning. Personnel Journal, 53(11), 813-818.

Kingstrom, P. O., & Bass, A. R. (1981). A critical analysis of studies comparing behaviorally anchored rating scales and other rating formats. Personnel Psychology, 34(2), 263- 289. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1981.tb00942.x

Occupational Informational Network. (2006, August). 65008B - Wine stewards/stewardesses - ONET job description. Dictionary of Occupational Titles DOT - Job Descriptions - Retrieved June 09, 2011, from

Schwab, D. P., Heneman, H. G., & DeCotis, T. A. (1975). Behaviorally anchored rating scales: a review of the literature. Personnel Psychology, 28(4), 549-562. doi: 10.1111/j.1744- 6570.1975.tb01392.x

United States Department of Labor. (1991). Dictionary of Occupational Titles (rev. 1991). United States Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges, Home Page. Retrieved June 09, 2011, from

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