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Step 4: Understand duties in position description

State HR - Comp & Class

Contact information

Jefferson Building
1500 Jefferson Street SE, PO Box 47500
Olympia, WA 98501

Review the position description

You will need to thoroughly review the position description (PD) to understand the work performed.

  • If the position recently changed, review the current and previous PDs to determine differences.
  • Changes may indicate reorganization or program changes affecting responsibilities of the position.
  • If new duties were taken from another position, review both positions.

Consider the following to better understand the nature of the employee's work

  • Duties
    • See “Assigned Work Activities” section in PD. 
    • Position allocation is based on the majority of work (51%). 
    • Focus on major versus minor duties.
      • Major duties are the primary reason the position exists and typically occupy most of the employee’s time. 
      • Minor duties occupy a small portion of the time, are not the primary purpose for which the position was established, and may include one-time only or temporary duties.  
  • Level of responsibility
    • What is the extent of independent options, authority, and decision making?
    • Does the employee follow policy, procedures, and/or guidelines?
    • Does the employee make recommendations and influence or alter outcomes?
    • Does the employee make decisions that set precedents?
  • Level of supervision or direction given
    • See “Lead Work/Supervisory Responsibilities” section in PD.
    • See Glossary of Classification Terms
    • Review organization charts; clarify differences if PD conflicts.
  • Level of supervision received
    • See “Working Relationships” section in PD.
    • See Glossary of Classification Terms.
    • Indication of level of responsibility.
    • Includes extent of latitude the employee has in determining work methods and priorities.
  • Interpersonal work relationships
    • What positions does the employee have contact with? Over what issues? What is the purpose or outcome of the contact?
    • Does the employee represent the organization with outside entities?

Additional tips and considerations

  • Review other PDs in the employee’s work unit, including the supervisor’s, to help determine how the position fits, level of responsibility, and to ensure consistency between positions.
  • If you are conducting a position review based on an employee’s request, similar considerations/questions may be used for the Position Review Request form.  This is an employee form and contains similar components as the PD.  In addition, the Position Review Request - Supervisor Portion clarifies the information submitted by the employee.

Position allocation guidance steps

  1. Ensure current and accurate position description
  2. Determine relevant class specifications
  3. Understand allocating criteria
  4. [Current page] Understand duties in position description
  5. Conduct desk audit
  6. Determine appropriate allocation
  7. Write your decision


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