04 Dec Role Clarity in an ever Volatile Business Environment
The level of understanding you have with respect to your responsibilities, priorities, attitude, skillset, and expectations and how it fits into the bigger picture is known as role clarity. In that sense, you also need to be aware of the roles of your co-workers to better understand the whole process. That is when you can be deemed as an individual with complete role clarity. How does it help you? It aids in defining your role precisely so you know what is expected of you and what you need to do or if there is more desired to be done and if you lack the right skill set for the same. In that case, you communicate through the right channel and avail training provided to gain such expertise.
The volatile nature of the industry has prompted a constant appraisal of roles to adapt to changes that are very stressful for employees who have to be on the go to keep adjusting on a frequent basis. Based on my experience I have summarized how to ensure role clarity in these unpredictable times.
As you know every new joiner is entitled to a corporate induction program. In my opinion, every program needs a customized approach when it comes to explaining role clarity. Managers have to work in collaboration with induction managers and HR to fulfill this task with their respective new team members. A separate slot should be allocated for a one-on-one interaction to simply read out the job description and explain the specifics and also clarify any lingering confusion or doubts in that regard. Involving the managers will be tricky as they are very busy people but investing time and effort at the outset itself eliminates any possible frictions in the future. So ideally, in the long-run, it works well for everyone involved.
Roles keep evolving with time and over time it becomes complicated when you are expected to reskill or upskill and more responsibilities are added to your role. So much will have changed from the time of your induction until the present position that sometimes a certain degree of ambiguity creeps into your situation. I suggest you take the initiative to revisit your job description periodically to evaluate any additions or deletions in tasks, change in the level of expertise; expectations vs. reality vs. what you think should be the case. If you note any discrepancy, you can bring up the matter through the right channel which acts as an alarm for your superiors and re-orientation programs for existing employees can be worked out with mutual benefit.
Lack of role clarity is a major cause of misaligned goals and priorities. Your manager may have assigned your responsibilities of a nature that does not match your existing expertise. Does that mean you are unfit for the role? Or your manager’s expectations from you are unrealistic? Before jumping to conclusions, make sure to talk it out with your manager. You may be jolted to know you are wrong. Very often managers assess accurately the competency of their team members and have enough faith to entrust new and important responsibilities to them. Managers’ role is to understand personal goals and values on the basis of which they run compatibility tests to distribute work among their team members. Training is an integral part of career growth which helps in surpassing incompatibilities and boosts role clarity.
Constructive feedbacks are the edifice of all improvements and growth. You have to welcome valuable feedbacks from not just your superiors but also peer to understand where you truly stand on the road to role fulfillment. Only when you know your strengths and identify areas of improvement can you have a clear picture of what needs to be done or what was not worth the effort. So you can focus on only those aspects that deserve your time and effort to deliver the desired results even faster. Managers need to add inputs to promote role clarity and encourage individuals to share their doubts and confusion. This practice avoids any possible role conflict.
Pieces of Training
In this age of digitalization, online training has gained impetus. Organizations have started providing pieces of training right and left. You need to seek a mentor who can guide you to decide which trainings are apt for your role in tandem with any ongoing or upcoming project. Training boosts confidence and expertise to work with clarity. It is not possible to possess all knowledge and be conversant with all technical aspects from the start. Every new project is an opportunity to learn new skills and gain new insights. Your contribution towards a project depends on your knowledge in the concerned domain, flexibility to adapt, and overcome challenges. And how you understand to what extent you need to contribute and if you need to acquire or upgrade your skillset level is an indication of your level of role clarity.
Role of HR
An instance of miscommunication that led to a role conflict comes to mind in this regard. A company was looking for the post of an assistant in the Learning and Development department and that too at very short notice. Interviews were conducted and the selection was done. In all the rush to close that opening the HR personnel forgot to mention that MBA programs for employees that are conducted on weekends are also a part of the job description. Imagine the horror of the new joiner who happened to be a newly married individual on learning that he/she has to work half days on weekends too. The new joiner had signed the offer letter only on the condition of 5 days working schedule! All the same, the individual decided to give it a shot but resigned within a month owing to incompatibility and role conflict issues.
HR interview is the starting point of transparency and role clarity and as such should be trained to maintain both from the word go.
Role conflicts cause frustration subsequently affecting productivity. As mentioned, implications of role clarity start from the very first interaction between an organization and its prospects to the end of that rope. Role clarity gives momentum to performance and role-clarity-driven performance provides stability even in unstable times.