Classification and Compensation
The Position Description
The Position Description (PD) is the key document in determining the appropriate classification of a position. It is descriptive of the major responsibilities and work activities of the position. It is not construed to limit or modify the authority of the Manager and subordinate supervisor to assign work. It is used as an information source for the development and implementation of an effective recruitment and selection plan when a position becomes vacant.
The Position Description describes the work performed by an incumbent in a particular position, outlining the duties, responsibilities and qualifications for the position. The MPP designated administrator is responsible for setting a position’s responsibilities and duties based on campus and/or departmental needs. A position description can be used for classifying, orienting, training, and evaluating employees. The position description provides the basis for performance standards as it outlines the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the work assigned. It is used as a tool for evaluating a position and assisting a manager in assigning work, delegating responsibilities, establishing quality and quantity standards, ensures clarity of assignments and assists in communication between manager and employee.
A position description for each employee should be reviewed, and updated if necessary, each year with the completed performance evaluation. The most current position description must be forwarded to Human Resources. It is advisable to first contact Human Resources to discuss the impact of planned changes in the assignments. In the case of a significant departmental or unit reorganization, managers should discuss plans with the Classification and Compensation Manager well in advance of the actual redistribution of duties and prior to discussion with employees. A completed ADA Essential Functions Supplement to the Position Description is required for all positions submitted for review.
Tips on Drafting Position Descriptions and Things to Consider:
- As a manager, you can take several approaches to crafting and updating position descriptions. Depending on your department and your management style, you may also choose to complete/update the position description in conjunction with a lead person, if applicable, and/or the employee who performs the duties. By discussing the work with employees and soliciting their input you can incorporate their feedback into your ideas about how to describe the position. Remember, the manager is responsible for determining the accuracy of the information before submitting the description for review.
- Before beginning to write, spend some time thinking about what the job entails and prepare a draft outline for reference. The most important duties may be listed first, or duties may be listed according to the time spent performing them. Avoid the use of indefinite terms and vague expressions, or abbreviations, form numbers or phrases which have no meaning outside the immediate office or department.
- Focus attention on what is done, rather than the manner in which tasks are performed. Avoid expressing conclusions or opinions about the difficulty or complexity of the work and how well it is done. For example, use "tracks and reconciles department budget" rather than "handles budget very well."
- Use working titles that describe the nature and level of work performed-avoid inflating titles.
- When describing the duties/functions of the position, begin each sentence with an action verb such as “processes, oversees, advises, etc”. For more information on examples of action verbs, see the Action Verbs for Position Descriptions document.
Position descriptions help employees get a sense of their job responsibilities, what's expected of them, and the standards by which they’ll be evaluated and rewarded. Position descriptions may also help you develop recruiting materials, develop orientation and training programs, and ensure consistency and equity among positions.
NOTE: An incumbent employee does not by virtue of experience, education, length of service, loyalty or seniority determine the classification title. It is the position, not the employee which is classified. Classification is determined solely by the duties and responsibilities assigned or delegated by the manager/administrator to the position.
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