Job Grades . . . For You?

By: Mike Lehr, Human Resources Consultant

Are job grades for you? “Yes,” is the short answer. The challenge is coming up with ones that fit your bank and don’t break the bank.

First, as a Federal contractor, banks must abide by the Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision. This means employees can discuss their pay with other employees. Moreover, banks must post notifications stating as such. Employees will compare and assess positions accordingly.

Second, what to pay an employee is a tough question. Competitive pressures and meeting managers’ needs make this very subjective and inconsistent when hiring and promoting. Is the pay increase in line with the increase in responsibility? Are managers seeing this the same way? How well do officer titles relate to positions?

Third, what are the career paths in your bank? How do different jobs rank? Is the move upward, lateral, or downward? When is a finance officer on par with a commercial lender? Should an increase in title come with a different job? In all banks, positions come with different statuses. Employees’ and managements’ views don’t always sync on this.

Finally, community banks differ from regional and national ones. They differ from other federal contractors who are typically much larger. At those places, jobs have very specific descriptions. At community banks, a job could contain the responsibilities of three different jobs as those places. Moreover, they change. It’s not unusual for employees to trade job duties.

Yes, job grades can solve these problems and answer these questions. The problem is that the job grading industry is armed with fancy calculations and formulas to create them. Here, think cost. They follow a recipe, the same one no matter the size of the project.

Of course, they “customize” in the end after they burn hours running through the numbers. It’s like applying a six-sigma process to a two-sigma project, using that preverbal sledge hammer to kill a flea, or buying a Ferrari to arrive quicker when the road is rough and breaking fifty safely isn’t possible.

Also, speaking of rough roads, finely tuned calculations and formulas work best on clearly defined jobs. When it comes to community banking, defining jobs is like driving an all-terrain vehicle. It depends on the needs and talent on hand. It’s highly variable compared to the big guys.

So, that brings us to the point about job grades. You can do it. Yes, training helps. You might even have it now. Remember, the process they teach is a recipe, not a concept. Following it blindly will waste time and yield bad results. Do the parts that only make sense and return high value. Improvise, too – it’s all right.

Lastly, these guides apply too if you hire out for part or all of the effort. Pay for value. People modify recipes all the time. That’s why the phrase “to taste” is in them.

Regardless, think all-terrain vehicle. Job grades can solve a variety of compensation, career-pathing, employee engagement, and officer-titling problems. It’s also insurance against pay discrimination.

For more insights and guidance on how to get your employees to make better decisions, you can reach Mike Lehr at mlehr@younginc.com.