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Step 4: Understand duties in position description

State HR - Comp & Class

Contact information

Raad Building
128 10th Ave SW, PO Box 47500
Olympia, WA 98504-7500

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 Terms
    • Review organization charts; clarify differences if PD conflicts.
  • Level of supervision received
    • See “Working Relationships” section in PD.
    • See Glossary of 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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