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Minutes: March 16, 2004

PDQs and Classification etc. See also: March 11, 2004: Meeting

 

10-11 AM in the Center for British & Irish Studies

Laura Wright introduced the speakers Kris Watson and Kym Calvo of Human Resources. They spoke to us about the State Classification System, Reallocations and PDQs.

 

The classification system applies state-wide and is not necessarily tailored for higher education. For instance, in the Library Technicianclassification, no libraries are as large as the University Libraries with as many varied positions, so sometimes the classification system may seem limiting.

Four factors are considered in all classifications:

1. Decision Making
2. Complexity
3. Purpose of Contact
4. Line or Staff Authority

When distinguishing from one level to the next in a Class title, for instance from LT1 to LT2, usually one of these factors is particularly distinguishing. Again using the LT1 to LT2 example, "complexity" is the overall distinguishing factor.

 

The Position Description Questionnaire (PDQ) is the document that is used in determining classification. If there have been substantial changes in the duties, the supervisor re-writes the PDQ. The employee should be able to have input, but the supervisor is ultimately accountable for the content of the PDQ. The Supervisor doesn't necessarily have to be the one to write the PDQ. Both employee and supervisor should feel free to call Human Resources if stumped, but Human Resources will not be able to answer questions like "Will this upgrade the position to LT2?" because the PDQ needs to be looked at as a whole. Human Resources personnel may come back to the supervisor with questions as well.

 

Human Resources compares the PDQ with State Classification Series Descriptions, which describe each job class. These are available to all at the Human Resources Website: http://www.colorado.edu/humres/. Select "Classified Staff" then the tab for "Classification and Selection" then find the link to "State Classification Series...." (to find the Library Technician descriptions, select "G- Administrative Services and Related" and Library Technician is "G3C"). The classification determines the salary range and there is little flexibility.

 

Some of these Classification Descriptions, especially the older ones like the LT series, are more helpful than others in providing concrete examples. Newer ones, like the General Professional series, are broader and less specific. Over the last ten years, there has been an effort at the State level to reduce the number of Job Classes by consolidating similar functions into broader classes and eliminating more specific classes. In some cases however Human Resources will refer back to the old classifications to understand the intent as it regards certain professions.

 

The Classification Descriptions usually include a table at the end that lists the different levels and the distinguishing factors between those levels. For instance between LT2 and LT3, "Decision Making" is the most important overriding factor.

 

A question was raised about "Decision Making" This seems like perhaps a vague issue. The speakers went on to describe the decision making of an LT2 as "defined" and that of an LT3 as "operational" meaning that an LT3 will have authority over people (supervise) and/or have authority over an operation as delegated by their supervisor and/or oversee a work unit.

 

A question was raised about "complexity" in distinguishing between LT2 and LT3 suggesting that "complexity" should also distinguish between the two levels. The speakers responded that in their experience, with increased "Complexity" comes increased "Decision Making." All levels of Class Descriptions describe "ranges" of duties. There will be relatively "weak" LT2s and "strong" LT2s. Some LT2s might appear to approach LT3s more than others. As a measure, at least 50% of the job duties should be of the class that the position exists in.

 

Positions that have a mixture of levels of work are called "mixed assignments."

 

Certain things are not considered when determining a classification:

  • Longevity or seniority. The State Classification System was not designed as a career track, its focus is on the nature and level of the work assigned to a position. For example if a supervisor wants to promote a person who has done a job very well for 15 years, the system does not allow this on the basis of longevity alone. The work assignment must have a "critical change" to warrant consideration for reallocation.

  • Performance or quality of work. This is supposed to be measured by the Performance Evaluation. Classification simply looks at the work assignment.

  • Cost of living increases. The Salary Survey is supposed to take this into consideration and keep salaries in line with market value.

  • Unit budget considerations. Budget should not be a consideration in deciding to have a PDQ re-written or a position reallocated. However, the appointing authority does have the option not to have a position reallocated for budgetary reasons. At that point, the job assignments that made the position a higher level should be removed.

A question: Who approves a PDQ (and reallocation)?

Answer: The supervisor, Human Resources and ultimately the "Appointing Authority." Lucy Zellar said that for the Libraries the "Appointing Authority" is the Dean, Jim Williams although the processing is done through Administrative Services.

A question: What mobility exists between Library Technician and General Professional and Program Assistant (PA)?

Answer: No set answer. Sometimes there can be mobility, sometimes not. It depends on the changing work assignment. PAs are in charge of a program or a technical operation. Often called "para-professionals" (but not in the wide-use of this term in the library field apparently).

General professionals and Program Assistants usually have minimum requirements that ask for Bachelor's degrees in specified fields, or minimums of required experience. These are usually positions that are "extensions of a profession" such as librarianship.

(When asked to review these minutes, Kym added the following note: WE DIDN'T REALLY DISCUSS THIS AT THE MEETING, BUT IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND THAT WE NEED TO IDENTIFY THE JOB CLASS TITLE THAT BEST DESCRIBES THE WORK ASSIGNMENT. WHEN LOOKING AT LIBRARY WORK, OFTEN THE LIBRARY TECHNICIAN CLASS SERIES DESCRIBES THE WORK MORE CLOSELY AND ACCURATELY THAN THE PROGRAM ASSISTANT CLASS SERIES. THE LIBRARY TECHNICIAN CLASS SERIES IS ALREADY DESIGNED TO DESCRIBE PARAPROFESSIONAL LIBRARY WORK. AS A RESULT, WE WOULD HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME JUSTIFYING MOVING LIBRARY WORK OUT OF THE LIBRARY TECH CLASS SERIES AND INTO SOMETHING LIKE PROGRAM ASSISTANT. PROGRAM ASSISTANT IS USED TO DESCRIBE PARAPROFESSIONAL WORK THAT IS NOT ALREADY DESCRIBED BY ANOTHER CLASS SERIES.)

Regarding mobility, while one can hear about transfer opportunities and job openings in different classes at the Human Resources website, word-of-mouth would appear to be the best way to find out about openings.

Website: http://www.colorado.edu/humres/ then click on "Job Opportunities"

Question: How often should PDQs be reviewed by the supervisor or employee?

Answer: The Performance Evaluation form asks supervisor and employee to verify that the PDQ is up-to-date, so strictly speaking, once a year. In fact though there may be yearly updates to a PDQ, if there is no "critical change" that might change the classification, changed PDQ's can be maintained locally (by the Libraries for instance) and do not need to be sent forward to Human Resources.

Lucy mentioned that all Libraries' PDQs, whether simple updates or for reallocation, are forwarded to Human Resources. These are also in Libraries Administrative Services in black binders for anyone to see.

Thanks to Special Collections for treats and Helene McHendry for help providing teas. And special thanks to our speakers for taking the time!

 

Carl Stewart
Library Staff Association, Secretary