One of the most widely used job analysis methods is the interview method. The analysis includes both structured and unstructured parts to increase the accuracy and validity. According to the data collected the ultimate goal of social worker is helping different categories of people to increase their well-being and quality of life. Social worker mostly deals with oppressed, marginalized groups and individuals that include people with mental and emotional problems, the elderly, refugees, drug and alcohol abusers, the homeless, children and those who suffer from trauma or poor family conditions. Social workers play a variety of roles within different working conditions and environments, such as counselor, advocate, partner, assessor of risk and need, care manager and agent of social control (Asquith, Clark & Waterhouse, 2005, p.2-3).
The duties and responsibilities of social workers depend on their specialization, but typically include the following: conducting interviews of the individuals, groups and communities, their situation evaluation; investigations of cases; counseling and advocating of the clients; crisis management; provision of aid, support, resources or benefits; monitoring and evaluation of client progress in the process of resolving the issue; organization of support groups and cooperation with colleagues, family and community members. As social work deals with the broad range of problems that affect different aspects of life, it involves the cooperation with professionals from other disciplinary fields to evaluate and assess client’s condition, participation in multidisciplinary teams and attending meetings that deal with a certain social problem. The formal aspect of work involves writing reports, maintaining records and preparation to legal proceeding, as well as managerial and financial administration.
With a variety of tasks social worker has to accomplish, the specific skills are required, such as active listening, communication skills, analytical and problem-solving skills, stress resilience, organization, coordinating and cooperative skills, observation, empathy and persuasion. Becoming a social worker requires social work qualification that is professionally recognized. As the field is constantly developing, it encourages further education and professional development, as well as specialization. The specialties include such areas of expertise as family, children and school, public health, mental disorders and addictions, military and veterans, hospice and palliative care and others.
Interview method of job analysis is of particular importance for the functioning of organization, as they provide necessary information for the recruiting process, training and legal compliance. It is an efficient instrument to collect data on the job worth, identify redundancy and interrelations of the positions. As the interview is conducted with the incumbents and their supervisors, it allows the all-round analysis of genuine duties and responsibilities of the work, as well as conditions and setting. The method is highly adaptive, as the questions are selected in accordance with organization’s specific needs. With the use of unstructured interview question the question may be adjusted to every single incumbent that will provide additional information for more detailed analysis.
The job analysis provided stable and consistent results, as it takes into account the major aspects of social worker’s job. It analyses the purpose of social work, identifies main skills and competencies necessary to achieving the purpose. The list of main duties and responsibilities are analyzed, while the opportunities for professional development are discussed. The analysis also includes an insight into main specializations that may be acquired within the field. The results are logically structured and coherent and analyze the essence of social work. However, my job analysis is not all-embracing, as it is impossible to cover all the nuances of the job due to limiting factors of time and space. Additionally, social work includes variety of specialties; therefore, it is difficult to provide the information that would cover all possible aspects of different specialization and social setting. This job analysis provides the key information of the job and its requirements that may be used in the recruitment process.
Social work performance appraisal methods are chosen according to the specificity of the job, required skills and competencies, duties and responsibilities. Both past and future oriented methods are applicable to the social worker’s performance evaluation and appraisal.
Traditional past oriented method that is effectively used in social work performance appraisal is graphic rating scales method, which “consists of several numerical scales representing job related performance criterions such as dependability, initiative, output, attendance, attitude” ( Shaout & Yousif, 2014, p. 967). The criterions evaluated should focus on the communication and organizational skills that are essential for social workers. Critical incidents method may also be applicable to social workers’ performance appraisal, as it provides an opportunity to evaluate actual job performance in difficult situations and how the employee managed to resolve the issue and achieve the result. Social worker faces challenging tasks on the daily basis, so it is essential to record how they cope with them.
Among the future oriented methods 360 Degrees appraisal method is one of the most widely used, as it “includes evaluation inputs from a number of stakeholders like immediate supervisors, team members, customers, peers and self” ( Shaout & Yousif, 2014, p. 967). It allows assessing the performance of social worker, as it takes into account a wide range of opinions, and therefore, makes the picture of employee’s progress during the review period more objective and complete. 720 Degrees method is also applicable to social work, as the job purpose is oriented on the results, and the individuals, groups and communities, whose well-being and life conditions have changed due to social workers’ efforts are the main the key agents that assess the quality of performance together with other external agents. Management by objectives (MBO) is another method of social worker performance evaluation. As the social work incorporates organizational duties, it is effective to set and compare the work of the employee against established standards and goals. The assessment criteria are very flexible, as they can be adjusted to individual performance and include comparison with the previous years’ results.
Each of the mentioned methods has its strengths and weaknesses in the social work context. Graphic rating scales method is widely used because of its simplicity, as well as quick and transparent results. However, the results may not always appear completely objective and complete, as the evaluation list includes only several factors that influence the performance. Critical incidents method is highly effective, as it is based on actual employee’s behavior and creates the ground for cooperation and improvement, while it remains time-consuming and still does not exclude subjectivity of interpretation.
360 Degrees and 720 Degrees methods have numerous advantages, as they include the whole range of people involved in the interactions of different kinds with the employee. The feedback shows real results of social worker’ efforts and creates stimulating environment for enhancing productivity and improvement. Still, both methods require resources and are time-consuming, as it takes time to interpret the data received from the multiple sources. MBO is also widely used, as it provides systematic approach toward performance appraisal, as the employees are informed what is expected from their work, while the success can be easily measured. Nevertheless, the tasks set by the management may not always be understood properly by the employees, while the goals may change over time together with employee’s motivation. All in all, it is a useful practice to combine several methods to ensure that the assessment is fair and complete.
Asquith, S., Clark, C. and Waterhouse, L. (2005) The Role of the Social Worker in the 21st Century: A Literature Review. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.
Shaout, A., & Yousif, M. K. (2014). Performance Evaluation – Methods and Techniques. International Journal of Computer and Information Technology, 3(5), 966-979.