UC Berkeley News


All in the job family
Tips to help managers, supervisors, and staff navigate the next phase of Career Compass

| 05 March 2008

Beginning this week, the campus's Career Compass project moves into its next phase, with supervisors reviewing the job descriptions of their non-represented employees and then "mapping" them into the new job structure created through the multi-year project.

Mapping campus jobs is a key step in Career Compass, the campus's multi-faceted workforce-management initiative, which will integrate clear job standards, performance-management practices, and career-development opportunities. To some supervisors the task of mapping may seem like a tough assignment, but it "sounds much worse than it is," says Michael Green, an infrastructure manager in Information Services and Technology (IST), who participated in Human Resources' pilot study of the process.


The Career Compass team created the new job structure after extensive planning, development, and input and feedback from the campus community. The structure consists of 20 job fields - from Student Services to Communication to Skilled Crafts and Trades - encompassing related job "families," under which are more than 600 job standards (essentially job descriptions). For example, the Finance job field contains eight job families - accounting, audit, financial analysis, financial services, institutional research, payroll, purchasing, and risk management - with various support, professional, and managerial job levels in each.

"We wanted to reflect all of the jobs that exist on campus and match them as well as we could to the external labor market," explains David Scronce, HR's director of Strategic Initiatives. (He anticipates that a similar process will take place later in partnership with the unions to address the campus's represented-staff positions.)

Reviewing the campus's many jobs is an ambitious undertaking, and its payoffs are promising. Once the new structure is completed, campus job descriptions, and eventually compensation, will conform more closely to those in the job market off-campus, says Scronce. "When we use titles and terminology no one outside of Berkeley can understand, we have trouble hiring," he notes.

Some of the titles still used today, Scronce adds, are relics of the 1970s, when, for instance, employees in the programmer/analyst classification worked on mainframes and mini-computers. Speaking the same language as the external job market becomes increasingly critical as many Baby Boomers in Berkeley's workforce age and retire. The new job structure will be an asset in developing talent management and succession planning for the campus, says Scronce.

Easier than it sounds

Mapping made easy
Human Resources has made a schedule for mapping, staggering dates based on job fields. The fields scheduled to begin in March are Information Technology, Human Resources, Finance, General Administration, and Research Administration. (Visit the Career Compass website for a complete timeline.)

Supervisors should use the handy Berkeley Job Builder on the site and follow these steps as they undertake mapping:

1. Gather and review current or most recent job descriptions.

2. Become familiar with the new job fields and families.

3. Identify your department's HR manager or mapping coordinator.

4. Pinpoint the standard that most closely matches the job as it is currently being performed. Select it on the Job Builder site, then download it as a Microsoft Word document you can edit.

5. Edit the description. Add any missing information - especially essential job duties. Delete irrelevant information.

6. Following your department's protocol, submit the description to your HR manager or mapping coordinator.

Over the next six months, managers and supervisors from across campus will match each employee's position as closely as possible to the job standards posted on Career Compass' website, and then customize the job description to reflect the specific responsibilities of the position. Departmental human-resources offices, department heads, and the central Human Resources compensation unit will then review the mapping recommendations to ensure consistency across campus. HR will begin to evaluate the job descriptions when it receives about 70 percent of the mapping recommendations for a given field or family, allowing them a broad, cross-campus view of each job classification.

To make certain the mapping process will run smoothly, Human Resources conducted a pilot study. IST's Michael Green, a participant, oversees staff who work on tools such as CalMail, CalAgenda, and CalNet as well as system and network-security services.

As part of the pilot study, Green reviewed and described the positions of 11 employees who fell into three distinct senior-engineer positions. Doing so took about eight hours, he reports. Green's advice for other managers facing the task: "I think it's helpful for the staff to know what the process is, and then have a chance to see and comment on what's being produced related to them. I think that's very important. Otherwise, [mapping] may seem a bit arbitrary and weird."

Additionally, he says, explaining the rationale behind job mapping is critical. "I told my staff that the new titles and descriptions would allow us to do comparisons based on job duties. We'll also be able to get salary comparisons that are more rational than those we have now, since we'll be able to compare to other institutions - both in education and the private sector - so that we're better able to evaluate the market rate for a particular kind of work."

With change comes opportunity

"As with any change, people worry about loss," says Scronce. "Am I going to lose position? Am I going to lose standing? Am I going to lose pay?"

Scronce and Rich Lau, compensation director for Human Resources, have addressed many of these concerns at Career Compass open sessions they've led across campus. More sessions are scheduled in the months to come.

"We do want to be clear that no employee's salary will be decreased as a result of the mapping process," says Lau. Once job mapping is completed, "we will have much better salary information to guide future employee pay decisions," he adds.

David Scronce (Wendy Edelstein photo)

Human Resources has heard from managers and supervisors who wonder how they can make recommendations about their employees' levels without knowing the associated pay scales for the positions. "We would like the job-evaluation stage that we call the mapping process to be based on the responsibilities of the position," explains Scronce. "We'd like to keep that a pure process. Prior to the time that we make the decisions final, we will publish the anticipated salary scales. That way, if the manager feels a classification is going to be off - either high or low - they'll have a chance to ask us to take another look."

Additionally, says Scronce, salary scales have not been published yet because the analysis that will determine them is not yet finished. "We have to look at associated budget policy with the campus budget office. How many incumbents will fall below the minimum of the salary range - if the range is shifting up - and how are we going to fund increases as a campus? We also have to look at disparate impact. Did we do anything that would disadvantage a particular group?" All of those questions need to be addressed before any job-mapping decisions are final, he says.

Scronce anticipates HR will respond to supervisors' job-mapping recommendations by November (the last five job families are scheduled to be finished by Aug. 29). Job mapping will be completed by January 2009.

The new job descriptions will offer employees a window into the future. Possible career paths are part of the job standards, and they suggest ways to advance. Also, Scronce says, "People will have much more information about how we review and evaluate positions than they do today."

The new job standards will help employees evaluate the gaps between their current skill sets and those required by a new position. Then, says Scronce, "you can make yourself a development plan for how you're going to get there. We couldn't do that until we had a new job structure that was well-defined. This will give both managers and employees a wealth of information about the jobs that are here."

Well-defined career paths are an exciting development, says Harry Le Grande, interim vice chancellor for student affairs and a member of the Staff Infrastructure Steering Committee that guides the Career Compass initiative. The career paths will "take the mystery out of what goes into the dark hole of promotion. I think that's light years ahead of where we've been," he says.

For more information about Career Compass and upcoming information sessions, visit careercompass.berkeley.edu.

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