Composition and implementation of multi-disciplinary teams

Date: February 26, 2021
To: Chiefs of Classification


The Beyond 2020 initiative calls for an agile, inclusive, and equipped public service. In response, organizations are adopting flexible and responsive work environments that may include a variety of disciplines and classifications. These structures are beneficial, particularly in the context of horizontal or enterprise-wide transformation initiatives.The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) is supportive of multi-disciplinary teams, provided they respect the Policy on People Management, and its related instruments,  as well as general organizational design principles.  


The purpose of this bulletin is to address the composition and implementation of multi-disciplinary teams, in support of more integrated and nimble human resources management. 

Organizational Design and Multi-Disciplinary Teams

In order to respond to the rapidly changing work environment, managers may deem it beneficial to integrate a variety of disciplines and classifications within their traditional structures. If departmental Standardized Job Descriptions (SJDs) or Interdepartmental Standardized Job Descriptions (ISJDs) are used to classify work, the parameters associated with these suites must be considered. Any such parameters have been established to ensure the appropriate application of a Job Evaluation Standard (JES), to maintain relativity across the Core Public Administration (CPA), and to support the management of functional communities.

Some CPA organizations have established internal policies and delegation of authorities with respect to functional communities, restricting the creation of positions outside of the mandated organization. These policies and authorities must also be considered.

However, should departmental policies, SJDs or ISJDs inadvertently limit the application of multi-disciplinary teams, organizations and functional communities are encouraged to review these tools with a view to optimizing multi-disciplinary structures.

When reviewing structures, it is important to consider the required expertise and related degree of homogeneity required to perform the work. To illustrate: supervisory positions and their direct reports often belong to the same classification, particularly for highly specialized work, as a certain command of the subject matter is often required. On the other hand, a diversity of subject matter expertise and skills may be required for multi-faceted initiatives to optimize holistic analysis and approaches. The greater the diversity, the greater the need for collaboration between management and Organizational Design and Classification (OC) practitioners to establish clear distinctions in work assigned to different occupational groups, sub-groups, and levels, thereby respecting the primary purpose of each position and ensuring individuals are managed in compliance with their respective collective agreements.

As part of a multi-disciplinary team, the creation of senior non-EX positions, whose remuneration may be close to or exceed that of the supervisor, is not uncommon. This type of arrangement is not precluded; however, the work must be evaluated objectively. It is possible that an “expert” and “manager” be close in salary and in some cases, a subordinate position could be at a greater salary level than its manager. Complete and current job descriptions should clearly define work that supports the mandate of the organization.

Again, when designing multi-disciplinary structures, careful consideration should be given to the organizational mandate; the horizontal and vertical relationships of positions within the organizational unit; the job evaluation standard(s) being used; the qualification standards governing essential qualifications; the impact on interdepartmental and external relativities; interpretation bulletins; and other classification and organizational design guidance, tools, and instruments .

Policy Considerations

Executive Classification

Organizational design is typically carried out using a "top-down" approach to ensure that the design supports the achievement of the organization’s mandate. Consequently, OC practitioners should refer to the Directive on Executive (EX) Group Organization and Classification for guidance regarding executive organizational considerations.

Executive job descriptions identify the mandate, core functions, and accountabilities that drive the design of the structure. These elements should be well understood to ensure fluidity and connections to subordinate structures.

Non-Executive Classification

Non-executive classification also follows a top-down approach. Sound job evaluation supports the CPA in establishing the relative value of work in an equitable, consistent and effective manner. Jobs are evaluated in accordance with the Policy on People Management and related instruments including, the Directive on Classification, job evaluation standards, occupational group and sub-group definitions, and guidance from the OCHRO.

Organizational Design Principles

In choosing an optimal structure, certain general principles should guide the organization of work.

Organizational design is the process of configuring organizational structures to achieve alignment of the organization’s processes, systems, technology, culture, and people with its ultimate goals. This entails examining the relationship between task, workflow, processes, responsibility, and authority, and ensuring these activities support the objectives and mandate of the organization. In so doing, this process allows for the:

  • division of work into specific jobs and work units;
  • establishment of reporting relationships; and
  • alignment/realignment with the mandate, as needed.

There is no single ideal organizational model. An optimal organizational structure is determined through the organizational design process, reflecting the characteristics and priorities of each organization, and should identify the following:

  • Clear mandate including the distinct and immediate objectives, activities, and outputs of any organizational unit within a larger organization;
  • Common objective, where all organizational units within an organization work toward a single purpose/mandate, and all work performed is related to stated objectives;
  • Clear relationships, in the context of the objectives of a position (the duties described in the job description; the authority to perform the work; the responsibilities and relationships with other positions) should be defined; and
  • Flexibility to develop an organizational structure that adapts to its environment with a minimum of disruption to its processes. 


This bulletin applies to organizations in the CPA and is effective immediately.


Interpretation questions regarding executive classification should be directed to departmental classification practitioners who may seek clarification from the Executive Leadership Development sector of OCHRO, as needed.

All other questions pertaining to this information bulletin should be directed to departmental corporate classification resources, who, if required, will direct questions to the Workforce Organization and Classification division of OCHRO.

Original signed by

Christiane Allard

Executive Director
Organization and Evaluation of Work
Employment Conditions and Labour Relations
Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

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