The start of the new year gets people thinking about their weight — it's the No. 1 New Year's resolution. But I'd like you to think about a different kind of weight and a different kind of scale: your Role and Responsibility Scale.|
At work, most of our roles are not cut and dried. We have our job title, job description and so on, but the subtle shifting of our roles and responsibilities occurs without much conscious thought. It depends on the committees and projects we work on, and the department or group we represent.
To get a visual picture, imagine standing on two scales. If you are an IT executive, for example, most of your weight should be on the executive team Role and Responsibility (R&R) scale, but you also have one foot on the IT scale. Your main role and responsibility is to the whole organization and to your executive team.
Contrast that visualization with the opposite and see how things can go wrong. Imagine what happens if you put most of your weight on the IT scale. If your allegiance is to IT more than it is to your role as an executive, you lose the proper perspective.
Your decisions favor IT and don't take into account broader needs. You begin to protect your own resources and turf. In short, your R&R scale is out of whack.
Another example is the "Lead" position. Leads are usually technical experts who are the "go to" people in their department. They are given a hybrid role — not a regular employee and not a supervisor.
They are in the middle, with a foot on two scales. In their role, they are expected to direct the day-to-day activities of their fellow employees, make the schedule, be the trainer and coach and even provide input for performance reviews, but the hiring, firing and disciplining belong to the supervisor.
If the lead puts too much weight on the supervisor scale, employees wonder who the boss is. If they put too much weight on the employee scale, they may side with employees against management. They are straddling two scales with almost equal balance.
Or, take the case of a human resources generalist, who reports to a business leader but also has a "dotted-line" reporting relationship to the HR department. The dotted line concept is the same as the R&R scale. If you have a "solid line" reporting relationship to the business leader, most of your weight should be on the business scale.
The HR R&R scale is to keep the HR professional aligned with corporate strategies and HR initiatives. If the scale is out of balance you can become the "HR police," with too much focus on the rules and regulations of HR, rather than using the HR tools to solve business problems and provide wise counsel to the business leaders.
Now, let's throw in some committees. If you are a middle manager in the sales department and you have been asked to join a company-wide committee, how does your R&R scale work? What role do they want you to play and what are your responsibilities—and how can you balance that with your primary responsibilities?
Many people make the mistake of joining committees and task forces without having open, clarifying conversations about the amount of "weight" this new scale will require. That's why their R&R scale gets out of balance.
They might spend too much time on the new committee and take their foot off of the department scale. Or, they may only view their participation through the narrow view of their own department, and not contribute enough to reach a good company-wide outcome.
You may have only a few scales or you may have many. Just like your New Year's resolution to watch your scale and manage your weight, check in periodically on your Roles and Responsibilities scale, too.
Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee-based executive coach, organizational & leadership development strategist. Email your question to Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.JoanLloyd.com to search an archive of more than 1400 of Joan’s articles.
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