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Is this your position?

I was in a meeting the other week discussing the casting of a process. It turned out not to be as simple as it should be.

It is not my position

– Who will play role x, I asked

– It’s not me, because I’ve just changed jobs,” said Börje, one of the participants.

– ‘Yes, I understand,’ I said, ‘but now we’re talking about roles, not positions.

– “Ah, but we still don’t have anyone in the position I had before,” said Börje.

– I understand, you have no one in that position, but you are the one with the unique skill set. Is that right?” I asked.

– Well, it’s me and Annelie who can do this, said Börje a little proud. But she has also changed positions, he continued.

– But if you and Annelie are the ones with the unique skills, then surely you need to do the job, regardless of the new position or not, because otherwise this process is at a standstill?

– No, it’s not us, because we have new positions. That job belongs to a completely different position and we need to recruit someone for that position. We have talked to Gunilla (their manager) about this.

After a few more exchanges, I felt I wasn’t getting much further in the discussion.

Stuprören control

But what struck me is how stuck we are in what position we hold and, in addition, what unit or department we belong to. When we change positions, many sit tight and stick to the job description. It is rarely thought through from the perspective of the entire value creation flow, but rather linked to the unit or department and how it thinks about its work.

Work that is mostly just part of a bigger picture.

I understand that people want to evolve and go from doing certain things to doing more of other things. This means, for want of anything else, that you need to change positions. It’s natural evolution to want to learn more and do different, more advanced work.

Process activities drive the need for skills

But such a development needs to be seen in the light of the value-adding flows that exist in the business. That is, your processes. The processes include a series of activities, each of which requires skills to be carried out properly. Each activity is performed by a role.

The person playing the role needs to have the necessary skills to perform the activities that the role is supposed to perform.

  • If I am to review an investigation, then I need expertise both in how the review is conducted, but also expertise in the subject matter to be able to verify the content of the investigation report.
  • If I am going to put a relational action into our charting system, I need knowledge of how the charting system works.
  • If I am going to assess a grant application, I need to know the rules and guidelines, and perhaps even the law, to do the job.
  • If I am going to make a decision in a decision point meeting in a project, I need to understand what the decision process looks like and how to interpret the decision document.
  • And so on.

You can play several roles in one day

The thing is, you as a person can act in several of the above roles. You may have the position of department head, but you are very competent and experienced, which allows you to act in many roles. Depending on the needs of the business.

You may spend the morning reviewing the investigation report and just before lunch you have time to enter a relationship document into the charting system. After a good lunch, you’ll move on to assessing a grant application, before ending the day with a decision point meeting as project owner.

It all depends on the needs of the business, where you and your colleagues work together to create the value you exist for. Not seeing the whole picture and instead thinking more about “my” department or “my” position, becomes very limiting.

You can’t see the roles if you don’t see the process

If you haven’t mapped and designed your processes, you can’t see your roles either. If you don’t see the roles, you are naturally stuck seeing the department, the unit, the position, etc.

Job descriptions tend to be very much linked to the stepping stones of the business, i.e. operating only within a particular unit, department, or the like. But that’s not how we create value. We do it together, doing together what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

So I urge you to drop the positions and focus on your roles. And to do that, you need to see your processes and their constituent activities.

Want to know more about how to put together a vastly improved business?

A business that creates happy employees and satisfied customers, as well as healthy finances. In that case, I think the easiest way to get back to me is to reply again to this e-mail. You’ll get some tips and tricks based on your situation and yours. You can reach me via the contact form or on 070-528 52 61.

I wish you a pleasant and efficient week.