What is my role exactly? (Part 2)

Bob ILP, Members only content, Wave 2 Leave a Comment

So, in Part 2, I want to look at how jobs and roles are actually designed today, and offer some ideas on how you can best perform.

Where to begin? Well, let’s start with the core of our role. These are the key deliverables which absolutely need your attention – the must dos. You know, while it’s great to innovate and be super creative at work, you always need to deliver on your core.

However, and this is fundamental, the core is not enough. Every leader these days expects you to step outside the core, on a regular basis, taking on additional tasks, participating in new projects, being flexible. Not doing this, is not really an option. But you do need to decide where to be flexible. For example, does the new task match your talent? Does it really fit to an important organisational need? Does it give you the opportunity to learn, or to work with somebody more experienced and senior, a person to network with? These factors should influence your decisions on which extra tasks to take on.

And then, we need to think even bigger. For example, sometimes, to do our job, we need to step into the role of other people, and do their job. Sometimes people don’t do what we need to perform our role – there are always these critical dependencies. Perhaps the other person lacks time, competence, even motivation. So, we just do it instead because it needs to be done. Of course, you have to negotiate this very carefully; make sure you offer support, don’t just jump in; this can trigger conflict.

And … in addition to all this, you also need to learn to say yes and no. Sometimes, people will come to you for help, and you’ll say yes. Sometimes, people will come to you with an extra task, and you’ll say no. What you decide to say will depend on many things. The critical thing here is balance. Saying yes all the time, and you become overloaded. Saying no too often – you’ll be seen by others as uncollaborative.

And then finally, we still haven’t finished yet, because there’s still the dark zone to explore. This is the part of the organisation where responsibilities are exceptionally fuzzy; where perhaps no-one has clear authority to take decisions because of change or new business development. With the dark zone, sometimes you need to jump in courageously – to be the first to act, to simply take responsibility, to make something happen. Of course, it’s dark, so you might make a mistake, even fail, so make sure you have the support of your leadership behind you.

So, that’s it. As I said, forget traditional job descriptions. This is how roles and responsibilities look these days: core, expanded core, stepping into the role of others, saying yes and no, getting brave and jumping into the dark zone. This is what you need to navigate.

So, now, take thirty minutes to note down your current activities in each of these areas. And note the priorities you give to each activity – use a simple colour code: red (very important), amber (important), green (partly important). Then think, am I doing the right thing? If so, good. If not, change. You should probably discuss the design with your manager, so you can align on which tasks are really the top priority. Once you’re aligned, you are in a much better position to perform well, and be recognised for good performance.

OK, that’s all for today. I hope this was useful. Check out the blog and ebook for more ideas. And I look forward to hearing your feedback, and maybe even seeing a few of your job designs if you decide to share.

Thank you very much.

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