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What's the Most Important Thing to Remember When We Analyze Jobs?

What is the best starting point when conducting job analyses? We have a number of jobs to examine in our 1,000-employee organization, and don't want to spin our wheels. Is there a top five do's and don'ts list or something similar to help us plan?

October 5, 2011

Dear Start to Finish:

Without very careful preparation, job analyses in a company of your size can create more problems than it solves. Here are two key things you should consider when planning your project.

Communication

When most employees hear that job analysis is going to be done, they think they will either get a raise, that you are looking to reduce headcount or that they will be stuck with more work as a result of the project. Many managers see their part of the program as just one more brick on an already overloaded cart. Nothing positive comes from these misconceptions.

Smart human resources people develop a communication plan that answers, at minimum, the following questions:

• What is the purpose and value of this project?

• What are the qualifications of those doing the analyses?

• Will we get an increase in pay after the project is completed?

• Are you attempting to see if we are goofing off or have time to do more work?

• Will any existing employees lose their job or pay?

• What role and time commitment will be required of individual employees and managers?

• What safeguards are there to ensure the quality of each job analysis done?

• How long will the process take?

An effective communication program delivers ongoing, proactive messages to key stakeholders on a just-in-time basis. The best communications plan includes memos and in-person briefings. I've often found that actually inviting department managers to assist you in the analysis process is an excellent way of communicating the importance and validity of the work being done.

Analyst Training

Job analysis is an art, not a science. Without good controls, individual analysts looking at the same job can easily come up with different results. Personal bias, lack of skill as an analyst, politics and other factors can have a negative impact on the overall project if you don't plan for consistency upfront.

Invest the time to ensure that your analysts are fully trained in the basics of good job analysis. Make sure, for example, that your analysts can demonstrate their mastery of the analysis tools provided, how to conduct good incumbent interviews, what to watch for to ensure that people aren't underreporting or inflating the duties of their job and other important issues.

Next, bring your analysts together and review 10 or 20 jobs to develop a common understanding and approach to the work you are doing before you actually launch the program.

By calibrating your analysts, helping them focus on data rather than other factors, you will get a better result with much less stress and ongoing concerns for all involved.

Consider having an outside expert review your findings as you go along to make sure the validity of your results. An outsider will often be able to spot even slight data biases, which, once corrected, will improve the final result and add even more credibility to the work you are doing.

SOURCE: Rick Galbreath, Performance Growth Partners Inc., Bloomington, Illinois

LEARN MORE: Please read more on how job analysis defines roles and responsibilities.

Workforce Management Online, October 2011 -- Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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