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Career-Banding FAQs

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Career-banding is a new classification and pay program initiated by the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) that affords greater salary flexibility and enhanced career growth opportunities for employees. The current system of pay grades and job classes is being replaced with broad salary ranges (career bands) encompassing specific occupational areas (job families).


What is career banding?

Career banding is a new classification and pay program initiated by the Office of State Personnel (OSP) that is labor market driven and affords greater flexibility to managers in making salary decisions. Career banding replaces the current system of pay grades and job classes with broad role descriptions/profiles and wide salary ranges encompassing specific occupational areas (job families). Positions are banded according to the competencies that employees are required to demonstrate in the performance of their duties.

Why are we implementing career banding at NC State?


The Office of State Personnel is transitioning all SPA state employees to the career banding system. The transition from the current classification and pay system to the career banding system is an effort to simplify administrative processes, enhance the state's recruitment and retention efforts by becoming more competitive in the labor market and also to improve career development opportunities for employees. The program at NC State is being developed using the guidelines provided by the Office of State Personnel.

What are the goals of career-banding?

The goals of the program are to: compensate employees at a level that promotes successful work behavior; emphasize demonstrated competencies linked to organizational goals; reinforce high standards of performance; and attain the labor market competitiveness necessary to recruit, retain, and develop a competent and diverse work force.

When will career-banding be implemented?

The transition to Career Banding is a phased process that is implemented by occupational group. Banding was implemented for Law Enforcement in May 2003, Information Technology in May 2004, Administrative Support in October 2006, Institutional Services in December 2006 and Research in January 2007. Other occupational areas will be banded as they are developed in partnership with the Office of State Personnel.

Will the duties of my job change as a result of Career Banding?

No, employees will retain the same duties currently assigned and positions will not change as a result of Career Banding implementation. However, in the Career Banding system employees will be assessed based on their assigned competencies and key responsibilities.

What are competencies?

Competencies are knowledge, skills, and work behaviors that contribute to employees' success in their job. Competencies must be required of the job based on the organization's needs, demonstrated on the job, and assessed according to the standards set by the organization. The new career band specifications and competency profiles for each job family identify the specific competencies needed to perform the work assigned.

What is the difference between contributing, journey, and advanced levels of competency?

There are three competency levels within each band.

  • Contributing Competencies: The knowledge, skills and work behaviors minimally necessary to perform a job from entry up to the journey competencies required for the band.
  • Journey Competencies: Knowledge, skills and work behaviors required in and demonstrated on the job that are beyond the contributing competencies.
  • Advanced Competencies: The highest or broadest scope of knowledge, skills, and work behaviors in the band.

What is the employee's role/responsibility in banding?

Employees should gain knowledge of the new system through training sessions and by reviewing informational materials. They will also review their work plans with their supervisors to ensure they understand the competencies that are needed in their position and how the competencies they demonstrate on the job contribute to the work of their unit.

What is the supervisor's role/responsibility in banding?

Supervisors must communicate information on career banding to their employees, establish work plans with key responsibilities and competencies, and provide coaching to employees to enhance their contributions to the work unit's success. Supervisors evaluate employee competencies during the interim and annual reviews. They also are responsible for making salary decisions based on established pay factors (see the Career Banding Plan).

What is Human Resources' role in banding?

Human Resources provides training to managers, supervisors, and employees; consults on compensation decisions; conducts assessments of the program; and reports results of assessments to OSP.

Will Human Resources still approve salary adjustment requests?

Supervisors make recommendations through the appropriate division or college channels for approval of salary adjustments. Human Resources initially reviews and approves these requests. As supervisors demonstrate effective application of career banding, Human Resources will delegate approval to the divisions and colleges. At that time, Human Resources will begin auditing salary adjustments for compliance with the program guidelines.

What are the pay factors that contribute to establishing pay levels for employees?

The pay factors are: budget/availability of funding; market dynamics and market reference rates; competency levels; and internal pay alignment.

Do employees have any recourse if they are not satisfied with a compensation decision made by their supervisor?

Employees should follow the Pay Dispute Resolution Process, which is facilitated through Employee Relations. The process begins with formal notification to the immediate supervisor and then proceeds through the chain of supervision, if needed.

Recruitment and Selection

How does career banding impact recruitment and the posting of vacancies?

Vacant positions are posted with a level of competency that the department is seeking (contributing, journey, advanced) and the corresponding salary range for the band.

How do supervisors determine an appropriate starting salary for a new hire?

New employees possessing the minimum qualifications and competencies for the band are paid within the contributing level of the band. If the new employee has competencies and qualifications above the minimum standards, the salary may be at a higher rate within the range. The pay factors are used to determine the salary.

How does the interviewing process change?

Supervisors must ask questions to determine the competency level of the candidate. Behavioral-based interview questions are the best option. Training and Organizational Development offers training on this type of structured interviewing.

What are supervisors' options for setting salaries for transfers into their departments?

If employees are promoted from a band with a lower journey market reference rate to a band with a higher journey market reference rate, they are awarded a minimum of 5% but must be paid at least at the minimum of the pay range for the band. If an employee moves from a higher band to a lower band or from a higher pay level to a lower pay level within a band, the move may be considered a reassignment. The salary may be reduced to any amount within the pay range or it may remain the same. Salaries may not exceed the maximum of the pay range.


How are employees placed in bands?

Employees are assigned to a career band using a "crosswalk" developed by OSP and a Career Banding Transition Team. A crosswalk is developed for each occupational family to transition into career banding and lists the current graded classification titles and grades and their assigned banded classification titles and levels.

Does the level assigned to each position mean that OSP/Human Resources determined that the functions of the position require someone with a least that level of competency?

Essentially, yes. The crosswalk assigns each position to a level based on what is typically expected in the current classification level.

If a position is assigned "advanced", does that mean that the current staff member in that position should have that level of competency or if we are reviewing applicants, will HR also refer applicants with advanced competencies?

The current staff member should have the competency level that has been assigned to the position. It is possible that they do not as a result of being new to the role, still developing in order to perform the full job, etc.

When you recruit for a vacancy, you will decide whether to post at the contributing, journey, or advanced level based on your needs.

What is the recourse if supervisors do not agree with how the position is banded?

Contact the Classification and Compensation Office for a consulation at 515-7175.

Can employees appeal?

Incumbents/employees may discuss concerns with their supervisors but change requests must come directly from and be fully supported by the supervisor. This is because the determination of band and level is based on the position, not the person. When the person is assessed (either via Competency Assessment or via the Performance Appraisal), there is a dispute resolution process that employees can pursue.

Is it necessary for the incumbent/employee to sign the appeal form before it is submitted to Human Resources?

No, the employee does not need to sign the form.

Should departments give the incumbent/employee a letter of notification with the results of the banding initiative if the supervisor plans to appeal the decision?

No, the supervisor should communicate to the employee that his/her position is still under review in Human Resources and that a decision will be forthcoming. Supervisors should provide a letter of notification of the Career Banding decision after the appeal has been reviewed by Human Resources.

Does an employee have to demonstrate ALL of the knowledge, skills, and abilities in the competencies for the band to be in that band?

An employee does not have to demonstrate all of the competencies listed in a career band. It is important to note, however, that the placement of a position into a particular band is based primarily on the fact that the position's duties are consistent with the role description of the band and the employee is performing many of the competencies associated with the band.

What happens if an employee performs competencies in more than one band?

Each band has its own set of required competencies. However, an employee may perform the competencies within a band at different levels. In this case, the band and level of the position is determined by taking into consideration the percentage of time and relative importance of each competency as indicated by the supervisor.

How are employees given credit for supervision since it is not listed in the competency profiles?

Supervision would be reflected as a key responsibility rather than a competency and is therefore considered a component of the total job.

How were Administrative Assistants banded in the administrative support project?

The Administrative Assistant classification has been used on campus to capture various administrative support roles (e.g. Program Assistant/Administrator, Executive Assistant, Business Officer). Therefore, these positions were reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine which career band was appropriate for each one. The most recent job description submitted to Human Resources was used for this assessment.

Is the classification process still used for banded positions?

Requests to establish new banded positions and reclassification requests to change a position from one band to another should be forwarded to Classification for review. The completion of a Career Banding Position Description form is required to reclassify an existing position as well as to establish a new one.

If an employee obtains new competencies and exhibits them on the job (job change), is it necessary to reclassify the position?

Different and/or new competencies will not result in a reclassification unless the role of the position has changed and is therefore recognized in a different career band and supported by corresponding key responsibilities. However, the demonstration of new competencies may support consideration of a salary adjustment.

How often should job descriptions be updated?

Job descriptions should be reviewed annually (in conjunction with the review of the work plan) but also updated when job responsibilities are changed, added, or deleted. In some cases as an interim, an addendum to the job description can be provided to the employee. Revised job descriptions should be submitted to the Classification department to ensure the appropriateness of the band after the job changes.

Will any positions be abolished as a result of career banding?

As with the current system, positions are abolished when they are no longer needed or funded by a department. The implementation of career banded does not require the abolishment of any positions.


When are market adjustments awarded?

Market adjustments can be awarded to align an employee's salary with the market reference rate for their competency level.

When can retention adjustments be awarded?

Retention adjustments may be necessary when employees are deemed critical to the work of the unit and the employer wants to prevent them from being recruited by an outside employer.

What is a competency level change adjustment?

Salary adjustments may be awarded to recognize the demonstration of higher-level competencies when an employee is required to assume higher-level duties and responsibilities.

How often can competencies be assessed?

Competencies must be assessed at a minimum during the interim and annual reviews but may be assessed more frequently if needed.

How are the salary ranges established?

Using salary survey data, the Office of State Personnel establishes the ranges based on market data for each specific occupational area. Ranges are reviewed for possible changes every one to two years depending on market dynamics.

What are market reference rates and how do they impact supervisors' decisions on employee salaries?

Market reference rates are established by comparing benchmark jobs to relevant local, state, or national market data from public, non-profit, and private employers. Employees may be paid below, at, or above market rates based on budget availability, their competency levels, specialized skills, and contribution to the work unit.

When can employees begin getting banding increases?

  • Mandatory increases for employees whose salary falls below the minimum of the salary pay band will be implemented on the following dates:
    • Administrative Support will be effective October 1, 2006
    • Institutional Services will be effective December 1, 2006
    • Research Support will be effective January 1, 2007
    • Social Research will be effective February 1, 2007
    • Skilled Trades & Operations will be effective February 1, 2007
  • Discretionary increases for employees whose salary falls above the minimum of the salary pay band will be implemented on the following dates:
    • Administrative Support will be effective January 1, 2007
    • Institutional Services will be effective February 1, 2007
    • Research Support will be effective February 1, 2007
    • Social Research will be effective March 1, 2007
    • Skilled Trades & Operations will be effective March 1, 2007

Can supervisors pay employees above the market reference rates?

Yes, some employees may be paid below the market, some at the market rate, and some may be paid over the market rate. Individuals paid above the market reference rate should demonstrate strong competencies that are considered critical to the department.

Since the university will be functioning under a dual classification and compensation system (banded and non-banded) for a while, how will salary inequities be assessed and addressed?

Internal pay alignment among employees in similar jobs will be determined and managed at the department or college/division level. Determining equitable pay for employees takes into consideration the competencies being demonstrated and the contribution the employees are making to the work unit.

What happens to salary when an employee transfers to another position?

When employees transfer, their competencies are reassessed and the new supervisor determines appropriate pay based on the pay factors.

If an employee and supervisor are in the same band, can the employee's pay exceed the supervisor's?

It is possible but unlikely for an employee's salary to be higher than that of their supervisor. One situation that could make this occur would be the hiring of a new supervisor for an employee who is at a high level of competency and whose salary is at its current level due to a long employment history with the university.

Can an employee receive a temporary adjustment for performing new duties for a short period of time?

Yes, temporary adjustments can be made for temporary job change or temporary promotion.

What if an employee develops a new competency but it is not needed in the work unit?

Supervisors should let employees know which competencies are required and valued in their work unit. Employees should not feel obligated to develop skills or competencies or pursue licenses, certifications, etc. that are not required as they will not be compensated for competencies that are not required in the work place.

Can probationary employees receive adjustments?

No, employees must have permanent status to receive salary adjustments.

Can employees with active warnings or disciplinary action receive salary adjustments?

No, employees with active warnings or disciplinary action(s) are not eligible for salary adjustments, under the Career Banding program.

How are the market areas for salary comparison determined?

The market areas are defined by the location in which recruitment is conducted and employees are hired. For example, the administrative support occupational group's market is the Research Triangle area.

How often will market rates be updated?

Market rates will be reviewed and updated every one to two years depending on market dynamics and movement.

Performance Evaluation

When are work plans due for the newly banded employees?

The work plan containing appropriate competencies should be established within 30 days after the implementation date.

What is the difference between competency assessment and performance appraisal?

A competency assessment documents what level of work (Contributing, Journey, or Advanced) is being assigned and/or performed on assigned tasks. This assessment may occur for a new hire, a transfer, or a change in assigned level when the supervisor first prepares a work plan. On an ongoing basis, assessments occur for every banded employee as part of the performance management process at interim time and again at annual appraisal to document the level of work the employee actually performed. Also at the annual appraisal, a rating is given to each key responsibility and each competency to indicate how well the assigned work/level was performed.

If work plans haven't been developed yet, which form should be used - the old one or the new one?

If 2006-07 work plans have not been finalized for career-banded employees, they should be done as soon as possible using the new SPA Career-Banded Work Plan and Appraisal Form. The current non-banded form can continue to be used until an employee is banded. Currently, the new form is optional for IT employees, however, the new form will become mandatory with the beginning of the 2007-08 performance management cycle so we encourage supervisors to begin using it and become familiar with it soon.

Supervisors may contact Employee Relations to discuss using the banded form for non-banded positions, substituting the existing performance characteristics in place of the competencies. Once the employee is banded appropriate competencies must replace performance characteristics.

What happened to the performance (behavioral) characteristics (e.g. attendance, safety, judgment) on the appraisal form?

Under the banding evaluation system the performance characteristics are replaced with a set of competencies. Some departments are electing to create additional Key Responsibilities/Competencies to ensure that certain characteristics remain included in the work plan (e.g. attendance, safety, judgment). Supervisors and/or departments choosing to add such items to the new work plans should contact Employee Relations for assistance.

How should occasional duties be accounted for when evaluating competencies?

Occasional duties can be accounted for under the Key Responsibilities section of the work plan. Supervisors can include a Key Responsibility titled "Other duties as assigned," if such applies. Employee Relations is available to assist in developing appropriate wording.

What's the difference between a career development plan and a performance improvement plan?

A Career Development Plan is designed to help employees increase their skills and abilities in their current job or a job they may desire in the future, achieve career goals, and broaden their knowledge base. It is voluntary, and should be used to encourage or motivate employees to achieve their personal bests.

A Performance Improvement Plan is designed to address performance deficiencies that fall below the stated expectations. A Performance Improvement Plan is required any time an employee has fallen below expectations in any part of their job. For example, if an employee has problems meeting attendance requirements, a Performance Improvement Plan should be instituted to address that performance deficiency.


If positions are located "out of town", how can training be obtained?

If employees or supervisors are unable to attend training sessions provided on campus, it is recommended that they review the information provided on the Human Resources website. They can also contact staff members in the Employee Relations or Classification and Compensation units for assistance.


Will funding be provided to implement Career Banding and fund salary increases?

No additional funding was provided by the Legislature or the Office of State Personnel. Existing salary funds previously used for reclassification, range revisions, in range adjustments, etc. will be used to fund salary adjustments.

How will legislative increases be given to employees after banding?

We do not know. Each year the legislature determines if and how increases will be awarded.

How will equity between campus departments be maintained?

In the current system, equity is reviewed within a department not between departments. This will continue to be the practice unless management requires that equity be managed at the college or division level.

Future Projects

Since the Legislature has postponed additional banding projects, what positions are not being banded at this time?

Previous and current projects to be implemented by February 1, 2007 include: law enforcement, information technology, legal, administrative support, research, social research, skilled trades, services, and vehicle operations. All other occupational groups are on hold.