First, the assessor collects the relevant information. Secondly, the assessor analyses the position against the factors using the work value assessment tool and compares the position with the expected standards in the WLS. Once the assessment is complete, then the assessor can make a recommendation about the appropriate classification level of the position.
Phase One: Information gathering
Step One — Documentation
A skilled assessor will collect the relevant information on the position. There are usually a number of corporate documents that are relevant to understanding the position. These include the following:
- organisational chart (either existing or proposed)
- position description (current or proposed)
- business plans for the business unit/division/area of responsibility
- performance agreement (for existing positions)
- list of delegations held by the position
- list of committees or working groups with which the position is involved (as either member or chair)
- budget or cabinet papers/new policy proposal documentation
- government or ministerial statements
- press releases or other media material
- annual report
Step Two — Interview
During the information-gathering stage it is important to source as much information as possible, from as many relevant sources as possible, in order to fully understand the position. One of the most important sources of information is an interview with a person who knows detailed and accurate information about the position. This is usually the incumbent and/or the supervisor, however it could be any person who knows the position well such as a former incumbent or manager-once-removed. Where a position is new, any person such as the proposed supervisor of the position can be interviewed. It may also be useful to interview stakeholders and/or clients or colleagues of the position. An Interview Protocol document is included that will help guide the interview process. During the interview, remember to:
- Use the Interview Protocol document, starting with the initial questions and moving through to the key responsibilities. At this point, use the interviewee’s responses to guide the use of the other questions. As the interviewee talks about their key responsibilities, they will often cover off on other information such as their accountability, decision-making, authority etc. It is not necessary to ask each question separately, or in the order presented in the protocol, if these areas have already been covered. However it is essential that enough information is gathered to assess the position accurately.
- Ask as many clarifying questions as possible to ensure that you fully understand the position and all its responsibilities. Even if the position is one that seems familiar, ensure that no information is missed as there may be aspects of the position that are different to other positions of the same ‘type’. Do not be concerned that the interviewee may expect you to understand the position. If there is any aspect of the position or ‘jargon’ used that you do not fully understand, ask questions to clarify your understanding.
- Ensure that the interviewee has given enough information to cover off on all of the work value factors in the work value assessment tool. This includes staffing numbers, budgets, a list of key stakeholders, as well as information about the complexity and accountability of the position and its upward reporting lines.
- Take notes during the interview. Do not rely on memory to assess the position. The position must be assessed according to the evidence gathered during the interview and through the examination of the documentation. Notes are the only source of evidence for the interview so ensure they are detailed.
- Concentrate on the tasks and responsibilities of the position NOT the capabilities required. Technical knowledge and experience needed to competently perform the position should be covered, however ‘soft’ skills are focused on the person, not the position. Use the ‘Knowledge’ factor definition to understand the information needed for the assessment of technical knowledge and experience.
Phase Two: Assessing the position
Step One — Use the work value assessment tool
In phase two the assessor analyses the position in relation to the work level standards, using the work value assessment scoring template. The process is explained in detail below.
- Assess each factor separately, comparing the information gathered with the descriptors for each score. Use the work value factor definitions to better understand what dimensions of the position are being assessed by each factor. Choose the set of descriptors that most closely match the information about the position.
- Score each factor by allocating the score (1, 3, 5, 7) indicated by the set of descriptors. ‘Half’ scores may be allocated (e.g. 2, 4, 6) where the position appears to fit some of the higher-level score, but not all.
- Add up the scores to arrive at the total score for the position.
- Use the scoring sheet template to find the recommended classification level for the position (SES Band 1, SES Band 2 or SES Band 3).
- If the total score is below the cut-off point for SES Band 1, the position is said to be ‘below band 1’ but should not immediately be assumed to be VPS 6 or STS 7. The position needs to be compared against the VPS6 and STS7 grade descriptors in the Victorian Public Service Enterprise Agreement.
Step Two — Final comparison with work streams
Compare the WLS evaluation with the information in the work streams, which provides typical tasks and responsibilities for each of the executive bands. This step helps to confirm that the assessment against the factors has been accurate.
Step Three — Consider any special circumstances
At times there may be factors other than those in the work value assessment tool that warrant a classification level for a position that is not apparent through the assessment process. This situation is expected to be rare, and usually applies to positions that are created for special purposes in the context of very high risk and political sensitivity. Positions such as these are often time limited.
Step Four — Report
At the end of the process, a recommendation regarding the appropriate classification level for the position can be made. Use the work value assessment scoring sheet template to outline the scores chosen for each factor and the rationale for each choice.
After the evaluation process has been completed, there are four possible outcomes.
- The position is at the expected classification
- The position is a ‘borderline’ position
- The position is lower than the current classification i.e over classified
- The position is higher than the current classification i.e under classified
If the position is found to be at the expected classification level, no further action is needed. However, some positions may score either just below or just over the minimum for a particular classification; this is referred to as a ‘borderline’ position. If this happens, re-examine the information about the position and possibly seek further information from other sources. There may be a need to re-interview, obtain additional information or have a second person complete the assessment again. Once further information has been gathered and assessed, or a second independent assessment has been conducted, discussions can occur and a decision can be made.
Other outcomes that are possible include ‘under-classification’ or ‘over-classification’, where the score for the position fits within the range either above or below the current classification of the position. Where this occurs, it is necessary for the organisation to make decisions about how this can be corrected. Some options are:
- add certain tasks and responsibilities or accountabilities to lower the work value of an under-classified position (where the position scores higher than its current classification)
- remove certain tasks and responsibilities or accountabilities to raise the work value of an over- classified position (where the position scores lower than its current classification)
- restructure the work area to create a better fit of the position to its current classification
- reclassify the position to fit the recommended classification (and transfer the incumbent if necessary)
- take no action until the current incumbent leaves the position and then redesign the position to ensure a better fit with the intended classification
Organisations are best placed to make a decision about options for change within the context of current and future planning, strategic direction and organisational goals. There may be other factors that influence these decisions or a decision to take no action for the foreseeable future.