SISC’s ambitious undertaking
Overhaul of Berkeley’s 50-year-old staff infrastructure is on track, top administrators and consultant say

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs

06 November 2002 | The Staff Infrastructure Steering Committee (SISC), formed last year to improve the work experience for staff at Berkeley, will implement a broad and complex plan to restructure the campus’s compensation and classification systems, starting in January 2004. Upgraded performance- and career-management programs will also be unveiled at that time.

The date was announced at an open forum attended by more than 100 staff last Tuesday in Alumni House. The event — sponsored by Horace Mitchell, vice chancellor for business and administrative services — was the first campuswide presentation of the committee’s progress to date.

Though it will take more than a year to begin implementing the project, the extended time period is required to correct effectively Berkeley’s cumbersome and outmoded job-classification system, said Vice Chancellor for Research Beth Burnside, who co-chairs SISC along with David Moers, assistant vice chancellor for human resources.

“We have a big bunch of bad stuff going on here,” said SISC member Cris Banks, senior lecturer in the Haas School of Business and principal of Terranova Consulting Group, which is assisting SISC with the design of the programs. “Some staff are not equitably paid, performance evaluations are hit and miss, depending on where you work, job classifications don’t accurately describe the work that is done, and there are no clear pathways for career mobility. We want to get to the core of these problems, but that takes time.”

Banks, using her familiarity with the campus and expertise in human-resource management, is leading the restructuring process with the help of smaller SISC workgroups. Each workgroup — composed of staff and assisted by Terranova consultants — will focus on one of the four areas targeted for restructuring: compensation, classification, performance management, and career management.

While work is being done on all four areas, the current focus is on the classification structure, which serves as the cornerstone for improvements in the other areas, said Banks. “We want to be able to tie the work we do to the market place and realign our pay programs so that they reflect both internal and external equity. We also want staff to be properly evaluated and to understand the skills and abilities needed to move to new positions. But we can’t do that until we have accurate descriptions of the work we do and the skills and abilities needed to be successful in those jobs.”

A “job family” structure, based on models used at other institutions, is currently being tested to see if it fits Berkeley’s needs, said Banks. Soon, the arduous task of getting descriptions of what each employee does — so their positions can be assigned to the proper job family — will begin. As part of this effort, staff and managers will be asked to describe the work they do on campus.

Once accurate descriptions of all positions have been acquired, the workgroup will begin fitting them into the proper pay and classification levels. Decisions will be based on the job’s contribution to the institution and the pay given to similar positions in the marketplace.

“We want both the classification and pay systems to be much easier to understand and administer,” said Banks, “so that managers can make the right decisions and staff can feel confident that the decisions are appropriate and fair.”

The other workgroups are just starting to design the essential components of the performance and career management portions of the restructuring. More work will be done in these areas once the classification process has been revamped.

“When this project is completed, we will have a classification structure that is fully understood, a compensation system that is sensitive to the market place, performance management that stimulates constructive communications between managers and staff, and the tools and knowledge staff need to advance their careers in place,” said Moers. “My vision is that as a result of these changes, job satisfaction will be increased, morale will be boosted, and staff turnover will greatly diminish.”

Another benefit of the committee’s work, Moers added, is that Berkeley will have accurate data on how the campus’s staff salaries compare with the marketplace. Using that information, Berkeley, along with the Office of the President and the unions, will be able to illustrate for the state legislature the need for adjustments to staff wages at UC, he said.

While the committee is working diligently to overhaul the campus’s staffing infrastructure, the plan can’t be successfully implemented without the help of managers and staff all across campus, said Banks.

“We all know that cynicism at Berkeley is significant, but we can’t do this work without your cooperation,” she told audience members. “We encourage you to attend future forums and to let us hear your feedback.”

For information about the Staff Infrastructure Steering Committee, visit Up-dates on the committee’s work will appear in future Berkeleyans, in “HR Links” (a human-resources newsletter for faculty and staff published three times a year), and on the Office for Human Resources website,


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