Consultant is not the answer to CHCC’s HR issues


Your recent article disclosing CHCC’s desire to update its job classification and job compensation practices gives goose bumps to people like myself who is thoroughly familiar, knowledgeable, experienced, and trained in this line of public sector personnel management administration and human resources management work.

To do this, CHCC issued an RFP to procure the professional services of a consultant to work and develop recommendations for a “comprehensive review of job classification and job compensation.” In other words, CHCC finds that its compensation system is not practical, flawed, outdated, inconsistent to some benchmark standards, and determined it as not acceptable by management opinion, thereby giving good reasons to engage the expert services of an external consultant to correct the problematic job valuation scheme.

As an interested observer of what goes on within CHCC, let us state some background references in order to link and provide the cue why CHCC is wrong doing this project by way of RFP. One, CHCC has a human resources management director or manager whose position responsibilities and job content include position classification and pay administration. Two, there exists within CHCC’s disposal its promulgated and implementing regulations dealing with its position classification system. Three, the merit principles of personnel management system applies to CHCC as a recipient of federal funds. Forth, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act may come to play as CHCC is also hinting that other parts of its personnel management system, recruitment and staffing system in particular, are not conforming to compliance mandates on account of its practices being outdated and running afoul of statutory standards at the local and federal levels. Let’s put the latter as a reserve subject for interesting future discussion among stakeholders and bureaucrats as we all search for permanent solutions balancing the diverse and divided public interests of the hospital.

Position classification and pay administration as a personnel management work is a basic job content and position responsibility of the human resource management director position of CHCC. Basic position responsibility means just that—it is a genuine, sanctioned, and all-inclusive work that comprises, among others equally situated, the total job of the human resources management director position. The other side but equally at par with the personnel management administration is the human resources management practices dealing with productivity expectations of known objectives or target levels of outcomes laid out by policies and execution of plans through effective and calculated planning strategies and engagement of all resources. In other words, the human resources management director position by design and structure would require the integration of the personnel management administration and human resources management into the organizational mission of CHCC. So by simplifying a conceptual view of the human resources management director position used by CHCC, even a novice with a glancing understanding over this would conclude that the problem here is not the position, but more than suspect and conclusively a given, it would be the “incumbent” of this position, unfortunately.

The principal rule in personnel management work suggests that the person must fit the job standards or job contents. It is never that the job standards should be fitted to serve any person. When confronted at a juncture when questions persists whether the perpetuation of practices that allows the job to be right-sized to the needs of a person, at this point in time a serious legal problem exists. Can it be corrected? Yes, absolutely. The position is the legal entity. If the person does not fit the position standards, the law requires that this should be disallowed and settled. How in heavens name and under ethical (truthful) action by competent and constituted appointing authority in CHCC would justify that a person who is not fit for the position would continue to hold a legally authorized position paid by public funds and continue to ascertain that this is acceptable? This is a correctable problem indeed, would you agree?

In the RFP, the scope of work under consideration is hedged on the “comprehensive review of job classification and job compensation.” But the position classification system as a job evaluation method is an application found useful only by a few state and local government jurisdictions. The federal government abandoned this pay administration system many years ago. So, it is time to correct the system. Going forward with the status quo would only further aggravate the problem if CHCC perpetuates a method that spells cost aberration when other just as successful and proven methodologies could be better and come with minimal conflicts and contradictions. If the incumbent of the human resources management director position in CHCC is engaging in minimal job related responsibilities, knowing what point rating, factor comparisons, factor-point system of job evaluation would be just as normal, routine and basic core of the position. Other approaches may include Jaques’s Equitable Payment, Peterson Decision Band Method, Hay Guide Chart-Profile Method, and expansive and involved methodology as well to include broad-banding should not be foreign and isolated tasks to this position.

By listing several alternative job evaluations systems, it is for the purpose of suggesting that compensation for public employees could be derived from many different, satisfactory and acceptable ways. It is not in the best interest of CHCC to hire a consultant just to figure out what is good for its going concern or what is in the market that is ready made and turnkey by design, and then it will hope that it would have traction later. More often than not, turnkey and boilerplate renditions by an external consultant only gathers dusts and left for it to come to a natural death, and future needs would be hooked to the consultant once again because no one in CHCC can perform what the consultant completed. Hence, CHCC has within its reach the power, force, and capacity it would receive from the human resources management director position it says is available for its disposal.

It is a tragedy if CHCC fails to realize that the issue of pay system is best handled by way of postponing its proposal going forward with an external consultant because all that would amount to is a “band aid” cover. What is at issue is a fundamental concern. A house constructed without the proper engineering design and specification plan is destined to collide with problems and unexpected outcomes. Obviously, this is to be avoided altogether and at all cost. On the other hand, a house just getting attention for an engineering design and during the work progress in the middle of its construction would not fare well because this signifies that failure in this scenario is due to negligence and would honestly render it to be unconscionable. The latter scenario is the case in point with CHCC at this point. Does the management of CHCC find it justified to continue construction work after noting the need for engineering design and approval in the middle of the construction process? Unless someone in CHCC is indispensable, we are hoping that it is time to check by having CHCC do its own reality check.

Correcting and rightsizing its recruitment and staffing culture, performance management, labor relations, employee disciplinary processes and procedures, fringe benefits considerations, IT capacity, employee civil rights protections, compliance and legal considerations, among others, are all important personnel management elements and system applications in need for CHCC to resolve before it could satisfy itself that the means of doing processes and procedures which are sanctioned and put in place would guarantee acceptable outcomes. Its human resource management director position is the key to transforming human resources capacity of CHCC under strict orders for consistency to and measured by approved system approaches in which its integrated plans of personnel management administration and human resources management pendulum would complement each other. This would require revamping and bringing CHCC to a level where what it does for its human resources capacity is systematized that would withstand changes it is navigating in due course. Hence, it is not feasible and conscionable to entertain hiring a consultant to perform a job that is assignable to the human resource management director position that CHCC said it is using for all its personnel management and human resource management works. Because most if not all these works are considered “basics” of the position, technically this is not the problem. An anomaly in a part of a well-oiled machine would function less than desirably. And, knowing this and yet if for no reason, it continues in constant motion, it should be a footnote that system approaches to problem solving and management practices at CHCC does not exist.

The question about the person filling the HR management director position is something else, and that should be reserved for another time and interesting discussion. Hopefully, there is a match of the person and position as stated in CHCC’s personnel system. Hence, this is the issue. And, CHCC should avoid toying with external consultants to do a job that is performable by its internal capacity, as it should be, while addressing the core of the problem that narrows to system designs and their implementation steps.

Francisco R. Agulto
Kannat Tabla, Saipan

Francisco R. Agulto Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.