When Alice Kieran, Director Total Compensation, took on the competencies framework project, launched in 2009 before her arrival – first as a review of job families and later expanded to include competencies and levels of proficiency, she knew she could count on the expertise of Angela Morse of the Total Compensation team and project architect. But what surprised her was the number of job titles that existed – over 1,000 for the M group alone!
Many titles were unique while others became acronyms that only a long-time McGill employee could understand. In yet other cases, abbreviated versions were spelt three or four different ways for the same title, creating even more confusion and total inconsistency.
It became clear that harmonizing job titles would be important to tackle at the same time as the competencies framework project.
Laura Fabrizi, Compensation Advisor, was given that task, no small feat since only updates to some titles had been applied over the years because no formal guidelines were in place. People in all areas had complete latitude on titles given to individuals.
Now with this initiative well under way, and once the competencies framework project is rolled out later this year, it will be much easier to apply harmonized job titles to similar positions, especially important in job postings when recruiting outside the university.
Flexibility in attributing job titles
At times, it can be challenging to accommodate an employee who wants a certain title that isn’t appropriate, given the level of the position. “But even with guidelines in place, there is still flexibility and an extensive list of titles to choose from, something uncommon in most organizations, where the title is predetermined and there is no room for discussion,” says Laura who has benchmarked all positions against other universities in Canada.
In January, a title structure and guidelines to be used by HR advisors and Direct Service representatives were approved following extensive consultation and are now in effect. They include consistent spelling and fewer acronyms. Rules were established on the proper way to write abbreviations. Official titles were harmonized in Banner, streamlining the use of titles across the university.
“Harmonizing titles also helps with the job posting process – there is no more confusion. We now have a clearer title structure in place, which is much easier to manage,” explains Laura.
Some areas still need to be reviewed, but this will unfold at a more normal pace, thanks to guidelines now in place for a systematic approach to applying job titles.