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Top Ten Tips for Successful Classification

As our classification workshops are offered, we are often asked “what makes a good classifier?”  In response, I’ve shared the list below – which was first offered in my book “Managing the Maze – Your Guide to Position Classification and Position Management”.   The following list has been prepared to help you be a better classifier.  These tips were solicited from current and retired Federal classifiers, all of whom helped develop this list to help you succeed.  While this list is focused on classification, many of these tips will be of assistance and use to other Federal HR staff in the performance of their work in other HR functions.

  1. Know your organization(s)!  This means that you understand the work being performed in the organizations you service, and how that work supports the larger organization’s goals and objectives.
  2. Get out from behind your desk!!!  In order to achieve #1 above, you can’t sit at your desk and read position descriptions and other information to classify a position.  You need to understand the context of the position, and challenges – and you won’t achieve that knowledge from your cubicle or office.
  3. Understand the history of classification in your agency.  Work with other classifiers and program staff to develop an understanding of how and why classification decisions were made in the past.
  4. Develop and apply a good understanding of management’s view of HR and of classification.  This knowledge will assist you in providing advisory services that meet management’s needs, as well as knowing what barriers you face in making classification determinations.
  5. Clearly understand the impacts of your classification determinations.  Prior to making a final classification determination, discuss it with management, and with other HR staff.  You don’t want to create a new classification
    or use a classification that will generate recruitment or union issues.  In other words, don’t classify in a vacuum.
  6. As you document each classification determination, see it as an opportunity to improve your analytical and writing skills.
  7. Network continuously!  This will help you avoid errors in classification and stay on top of changes and updates.
  8. Stay on top of changes and updates to standards, guides and agency policy.
  9. Attend training as often as possible.
  10. Understand that each classification you undertake is a learning experience!!!!

Do you have any other recommendations that will make a good classifier?  Please feel free to respond to this blog!  And – if you’d  like more information like our “top ten” list above, please see my book on classification, “Managing the Maze – Your Guide to Position Classification and Position Management” – which can be purchased at:

Hard Copy:

Happy classifying!