How ASCD took job description development to the next level

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Performance Management

How ASCD took job description development to the next level

Maren Kelley is the HRIS Operations Specialist at ASCD. In this guest post, Maren shares how her organization created a new and unique approach to developing and managing employee job descriptions, one that is helping ASCD build a workforce committed to its mission.

ASCD is the global leader in developing and delivering innovative programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner. To successfully serve our more than 140,000 plus members in 134 countries, we need to be a high-performing organization and align our work behaviors to our core values of accountability, innovation, excellence, integrity, and collaboration.

It's a challenging assignment, but we're making great progress - thanks to some innovative approaches we're taking to talent management. I'd like to share one of these approaches - we call it the Position Evaluation Questionnaire (PEQ), and it's been fully embraced by managers and employees. Download a sample ASCD PEQ form here (PDF).

In fact, during the entire PEQ process, I didn't hear one complaint from any employee. One employee said "My old job description represented only about 10% of what I actually do on a day to day basis, so the PEQ process was a great opportunity to make sure my supervisor knows exactly what work I'm doing and how often."

In the beginning... there were outdated job descriptions

In August 2012, we decided to implement a brand new process to develop and update our inconsistent and outdated job descriptions, some of which hadn't been updated since 2007. Our goal is to have fair, consistent, and transparent talent management processes.

The process would enable us to update our market pricing, realign jobs in job families, and create a consistent pay structure across the board. Additionally, it would help us ensure that we have the right talent with the right skills in the right role.

The PEQ was an ideal place to start

1) Update our paperwork: Using our automated system (Halogen Performanceâ„¢) we created a new form that would enable us to collect information from our employees about their jobs).

Once we finish collecting this data, it will be used to update our market pricing and salary structure and realign our jobs in our pay ranges. We'll then use the content to recreate job descriptions (in Halogen Job Description Builderâ„¢).

2) Spread the word: We understand that effective communication is absolutely critical when you implement any kind of organizational change. If you don't communicate, you don't succeed. Our strategy included:

  • Mass communications, in the form of emails. These were sent to our unit and division leaders. Emails were also sent to the executive team to be cascaded to supervisors and employees as appropriate. We also provided talking points for supervisors to help them explain the project to their direct reports and ensure a consistent message from the top down. Tip: We have a peer-review system in place to ensure that all communications are clear and concise.
  • Information about the PEQ process was then published to our intranet site. News about the new process was also reinforced through communications sent by the Communications team to ensure that employees that weren't frequent intranet visitors would learn about it.
  • We also created awareness for the new process by hanging posters in well-traveled areas of the building. PEQ lab session sign-up sheets also caught the attention of employees, who were quick to register for the sessions.

3) Train our staff: We scheduled eight PEQ labs, or training sessions. To our delight, every class was filled within an hour - a signal to us that everyone was really on board with the process. At these sessions, we explained why we were undergoing this change and then we walked them through the process.

Note to HR self: Schedule more sessions next time!

4) Conduct PEQ review process: We had one level of manager review the PEQs with an option to forward to third-party reviewers for feedback. Managers had the ability to see all the changes employees made. Although, we did learn through the process that all the managers in the chain of command wanted to see completed questionnaires as well.

Note to HR self: Next time, ask if they want data rolled up to all levels of management.

5) Complete the PEQs: Most of our staff - we have over 200 employees - completed a PEQ. In some instances where we have multiple people in the same role (such as in our service centere) one person was chosen to complete the questionnaire. In these cases, departmental managers selected the most appropriate individual.

Overall, the entire PEQ process took about one month, however we were at about 85 percent completion by the end of the first two weeks (another sign that employees welcomed it).

Next steps

Although we're still reviewing all of the PEQs, I'm enthusiastic about using the data to build our job descriptions in spring 2013. Using this information, we'll be able to create new libraries, including one library for job responsibilities, establishing common and consistent language across the company.

We'll also be able to build and leverage KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) libraries and use them in the creation of our job descriptions.

One of biggest positives for me in this whole process? I'll be able to export from the PEQ process directly into templates in Halogen Job Description Builder - no retyping required!

Our near future plans

We're excited about using Halogen to capture data about our employees' experience, certifications and education. Capturing this data will provide us with valuable insight into our talent, enabling us to easily draw from it to fill vacant jobs, create new positions and support succession planning efforts.

At ASCD, the changes we're making in our talent management processes are helping us build a workforce committed to our mission. We're proud of what we've done to date and we look forward to keeping the momentum going well into 2013 and beyond - and having Halogen on board as part of our strategic direction, will definitely help us accomplish this.

To find other information on how to develop job descriptions as part of your talent management programs, visit the Halogen Center of Excellence for best practices in job descriptions.

About Maren Kelley

Maren Kelley is a certified Project Manager (PMP) and Senior Human Resources Professional (SPHR) and presently serves ASCD in the role of HRIS Operations Specialist providing technology and project management services across the enterprise.

She is responsible for HR technology systems, financial management, and analytics and reporting. She provides project management expertise on projects such as the organizational balanced scorecard, performance reporting, SharePoint implementation, and strategic planning initiatives.

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