Structure your role at work 🗄
How to reflect on your work and career path
Finding or shaping a role to be well suited to your career aspirations is a fairly complex process. But like all processes, it is merely a series of simple steps.
Step 01: Set your standards
When you prepare to define a role for yourself in an organisation, the first step is to clearly and succinctly express your career objective, which should answer the following questions:
- What problem do you want to solve and why?
- Which of your skills are crucial to your solution?
- What is a reasonable time-frame to meet the objective?
Just remember that this definition of your career objective is merely your standard frame of reference for the process. It may evolve over time, especially once you develop a greater understanding of your motivations, capabilities and their place in the economy.
With this clarity on the objective, you are in a position to define the expectations from the role you seek.
Step 02: Find areas of work
Prepare yourself before having the discussion with your employer.
- Discover the priority areas of work for the organisation, through observation or research
- Identify such items which also feature in your career objective as problems you would like to solve
- Assess whether these areas have the potential to create a significantly positive impact on the business and yourself
- If you do not find common ground and the potential for positive impact, look elsewhere and start step 2 again
Step 03: Use your abilities
Describe how you propose to solve the shortlisted problems which align with your objective
- What is are the constituent parts of your solution?
- How do your top skills enable you to execute each part?
- Of these abilities, which ones does the organisation need the most now?
Step 04: Communicate your expectations
When you discuss your role with an employer, make sure to communicate the following, generally in the same order:
- Areas of work which you have identified through Step 02
- Your solutions and skillset on offer to them, based on your reflection in Steps 01 and 03
- Resources and time required for you to implement your solutions
- Compensation and perquisites you desire
Step 05: Balance role flexibility and clarity
What does role flexibility or role clarity mean?
- Role flexibility entails the freedom to define your responsibility and goals within the organisation.
- On the other hand, role clarity from your perspective is confirmation by the employer on a shared understanding of your role, responsibility and goals being aligned with mutual expectations. Both can co-exist, in an ideal situation. However, in general, there is some compromise on flexibility in favour of clarity. You should assess the degree of compromise right for you based on your priorities and circumstances. It is communicated clearly to your employer through the people responsible for your career.
Advantages of role flexibility — When does it work best
An organisation with clearly defined goals which are broken down and shared with each part of the workforce is a good place for you to be given flexibility in role. Flexibility entails:
- having the freedom to work on any part of the larger goal, by following the path of your choice; and
- accommodating your aspirations and strengths while ensuring your efforts align with common goals
Advantages of role clarity — When does it trump flexibility
If your organisation has a vaguely defined purpose and scarce mention of its expectations from you, then you are better off prioritising the pursuit of role clarity above all else. Achieving role clarity in such a case ensures you are better prepared to
- pursue your career objective in this environment; and
- deter negative perceptions about your performance arising from any misunderstanding or confusion
This process should provide you with some structure to approach a new role in an organisation or revisit your existing role in order to determine what you should do next. It should also help you recognise the importance of defining and communicating expectations with your employer during your attempt to steer your career in the direction of your choice.