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This is the final piece of a three part article. To see parts one and two click on the links below. If you would like to respond to Busi’s articles, click the Post A Comment link at the end of this article.
What Can be Done by HR, Management and Supervisors?
There are several things that HR can do to make the job evaluation process “less onerous” than perceived by all parties. HR management needs to stress to every HR professional that they must understand, not only HR policies and procedures, but the work flow and processes of the organization. The HR professional should not only be an expert in HR processes or practices but should also be able to intelligently discuss the work processes and work challenges facing employees of the organization.
In addition, those HR professionals responsible for the administration of the job evaluation system need to engage, trust and be forthright with operating managers and supervisors about how the job evaluation system works, what job factors are important, and what is important in a particular job. HR analysts should let supervisors know what kind of assignments are “grade” or salary impactive or what factors control the “grade” or salary of the position. Lastly, HR needs to train first line supervisors in the job evaluation process. Why? Supervisors should be clear in what work they assign and how they assign work and be sure it is consistent with the job evaluation criteria. Furthermore, supervisors should be clear in what work they assess in terms of their employees’ performance. How crazy is it to give a Senior Contract Specialist a performance award for working on only simple purchase orders!
Top or executive management need to espouse to all levels in the organization that the job evaluation process is key to effective supervision and to the management of a results-oriented workforce. Top management must promote the job evaluation process as a management tool and a management process that supervisors can use effectively to manage their workforce. For example, a supervisor should recognize the “disconnect” between the work his/her professional Accountant should be doing and the transaction-correction work he/she is actually doing because of poor work-flow. While this might appear as an HR/job classification problem, it is a management problem that can only be remedied by middle and top management. Yes, fires must be put out. Emergencies occur. I’m not addressing the random or rare emergencies. Certainly managers must rely on their top employees to do what ever it takes, but this should be the exception, not the rule. Also top management needs to ensure that there is an excellent work measurement or work tracking system that ties employees to the products and services they produce. With such a system in place, one can tell who is working on complex contracts or who is working on standard purchase orders. Also top management needs to provide expert operational assistance to HR Job Analysts in their review and evaluation of positions within the organization. Such liaison and assistance will build trust and competency for both management and HR. Lastly, top management, along with HR should advocate a random periodic audit of positions throughout the organization. This will ensure a commitment and focus to quality work and personal accountability.
First line supervisors need to use the job evaluation to help them guide, advise, and assess the organization’s most important resource—their employees. Once they understand, trust and participate in the job evaluation process, they can use their knowledge to explain to employees what is expected, to properly assign tasks or projects, to train employees, and to assess with confidence an employee’s performance. Supervisors knowledgeable of what work is grade/salary impactive understand what work to assign and what guidance to give throughout the work process until the product is delivered or the service is rendered. Finally, supervisors will be in a better position than they are now to assess the effects of increased workload, the changes in the nature of workload, in work processes, and in technology.
And the Benefits…?
A “less onerous” job evaluation process will be an integral part of the management process and the organization’s philosophy. The job evaluation system with its factors and levels and point values will not be a mystery. All parties with “skin in the game” will have input and shared responsibility. First line supervisors will view the work of their unit in light of the relevant job factors and principles. HR Job Analysts will regularly work closely with all levels of operating officials and collaborate on grade/salary decisions. HR Specialists will have to work harder and be required to know more in order to competently analyze with management the work of the organization.
An effective and “less onerous” job evaluation process is certainly not easy to implement. Not all job grading decisions will be universally accepted. Job audits will not be welcomed by all supervisors or employees. Some may perceive such audits as a threat. However, an open process will add legitimacy. It will help define what is important to the organization. It will help shape productive and professional behaviors for both supervisors and employees.
So what is gained by having a job evaluation process in a large organization, especially a public or governmental unit? From the employees’ perspective: fairness. The old adage applies: A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. Hard work gets paid more than easy work. Those employees who have been assigned projects that are not commensurate with the level of work that they should be doing will have to face a harsh reality. They will probably feel deceived because they have been used to thinking that their past assignments or their analytical efforts have been acceptable and, perhaps, noteworthy.
Through an active job audit program, top management gains a level of visibility down to the employee level that can be both vertical and horizontal. The vertical is a certainty because one can see how effective individual employees or groups of employees are working in light of their assignments. The horizontal will apply when disconnects between assigned duties and responsibilities and actual duties and responsibilities are a result of poor work processes either within the unit or between units in the organization. If the organization has an adequate work measurement and cost system, top management can further quantify job audit results. Meshed with a viable cost system, a viable job evaluation process is a powerful instrument to gauge cost effectiveness, especially for the public sector.
If it Waddles, Has Feathers, and Walks Like a Duck…Call it a….!
Whatever the latest management technique, philosophy, catch-phrase or buzz-word, sometimes going back to basics works the best. So…the more difficult work gets paid more; the less difficult work gets paid less. What is expected? Is it being done? Job evaluation systems are not new; they’ve been around. Managers, especially Public Managers, need to start using the tools they have. The Congressional Budget Office released a study in late January that concluded that for almost all levels of education, Federal Government workers made more in total compensation than their private industry counterparts. Now how would this finding sit with most citizens? I would imagine that in these economic times and in an election year that the public’s take-away is that public employees are once again on the gravy train. Many public employees and managers know this is not so; so these attitudes make it all the more imperative that public managers act responsibly and ask the tough questions of themselves, fellow managers/supervisors, and employees. What are we/you doing? At what level are we/you doing it at? And, if it’s not what we/you are paid to do, then fix it. Grab the tools at hand. No need to wait for a management seminar or a team of consultants.
Don Busi is currently a part-time instructor at a local two-year college near Cleveland, OH. A retired Department of Defense and Office of Personnel Management (US CSC) employee: 20 years in financial management and 10 years in personnel management. Served as chief, classification and pay for 5 years in Cleveland with the DoD. Email: [email protected]