Forget about employees; who’s holding the Ascension’s HR Department accountable?

August 16, 2017: Matassa announces Wesley’s hire as HR Director

We haven’t held people accountable (especially in Department of Public Works)- Attributed to HR Director Taleta Wesley by Dr. Christel Slaughter.

Speaking of holding people accountable; how difficult is it to write a job description?  In Ascension Parish, apparently, it is much more complex than it sounds; so complex, in fact, that Ascension’s Council voted to farm out the duty to SSA Consultants by a 7-2 vote on Thursday.

“We did go out on a national search for a top HR Director and I feel that we should be able to do that in house,” opined Councilman Todd Lambert, one of the minority votes.

District 9 Councilman Todd Lambert

Lambert questioned the omission of job descriptions from SSA’s Efficiency/Effectiveness Study, delivered several months after the target date for completion in 2017.  SSA pocketed a couple of hundred thousand dollars (give or take) for the study and a Compensation Study counterpart.

Last week the Council’s Personnel Committee welcomed back Dr. Christel Slaughter and her team, recommending another $76,600 to create 200 job descriptions for 500+ parish employees ($22,600) and develop/implement a Performance Management Plan ($54,000).  Bemoaning past parish presidents’ propensity for political patronage, a tough talking committee promised to “take the politics out” of parish jobs.  On Thursday the number of job descriptions to be written became “150 to 200” as Human Resources Director Taleta Wesley maintained the number of parish employees at “around 500.”

Tough talking Committee slams politics in parish personnel matters

Shouldn’t such activities be part of a Human Resource Director’s job description?

“I really believe we have the expertise in house to do this,” hoped the other “NO” vote, Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee.  “If not, what the heck have we done with the hiring of, not only our director, but who knows more about job responsibilities than our own managers?”

District 4 Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee

“It sends a message to our taxpayers that we just have incompetent people working here that can’t do what’s expected of them,” Satterlee said of contracting private firms to perform what seem basic tasks.

Wesley, hired by President Kenny Matassa in August 2017 at a $104,499.20 salary, claimed her department lacks the manpower to accomplish the tasks even though it was begun in February.  Other priorities took precedence.  Which segued briefly into a discussion of hiring more HR personnel until Councilman Randy Clouatre grabbed the reins.

“I’m saddened that we don’t have job descriptions at this point…thousands and thousands of dollars interviewing department heads, employees (by SSA).  How far are we from job descriptions?” Clouatre inquired, going on to ask HR Director Wesley to “break down that total dollar value we’re voting on today?”

Wesley could not, or would not, using a lifeline to bring SSA’s Dr. Slaughter into the Q & A.  Clouatre wouldn’t have it, directing his questions to Wesley.  The director explained “this is not a simple document that department leaders come up with duties…(There needs to be) consistency and some legal support…so employees know, these are the roles being requested of them, these are the particular duties.”

Clouatre claimed to grasp the complexities since he “wrote two job descriptions this week, plagiarizing them” with input from supervisory personnel.  It sounds conspicuously like what SSA claimed to be doing when it produced that Efficiency/Effectiveness Study several months late.

District 6 Councilman Randy Clouatre

“I’m trying hard to be on your side,” he continued.  “Are you saying we have no job descriptions?”

The ultimate goal, according to Dr. Slaughter who would eventually intervene, is a Performance Management Program linking raises to merit among other worthy goals.  Confirming that “Ms. Wesley needs more help…competent help who can do things like job descriptions.”

From which the listener could have inferred that Wesley lacks competent help at present, but we digress.

According to Director Wesley all department heads, except Utilities and DPW because no department directors exist, have been consulted.  Other priorities took precedence and delayed completion of those job descriptions.  Not to worry, the Council approved SSA’s contract and they will be written within 90 days.