In life and in work you play many different roles. Even within one job you may wear different hats.
For example, you may be manager of a division, responsible for five staff. At the same time, you are a team member on the senior management team. That’s a different role. In addition, a director of the company could also be chairman of the board.
Lack of clear roles can cause confusion, even conflict, for yourself and others. ‘What is my role?’ is an often asked question. ‘What role should I play here?’ can help you take a more appropriate stance. Role stress leads to anxiety, tension, insecurity and, inevitably, underperformance.
Role incongruity is a classic clash regarding roles.
‘I want to be and do one thing, but my staff expects me to act like I did six months ago’ was how one newly-promoted manager explained her dilemma regarding her change of role. With a role comes status; and with status comes degrees of authority and power.
At home, school or at work, you play ‘social roles’ largely because of what people expect of you. When you buy a newspaper, you expect the shop assistant to play a certain role (i.e. behave in a certain way, be helpful, give you correct change, etc). When the assistant fulfils your expectation, she has completed her expected social role.
Expectation by other people, therefore, is a major part of role definition. ‘How does your boss see your role?’ is a vital success step for any new employee. Are the scope and parameter of the role the same as you expected? Is the picture in your head about the role the same as the picture in the other person’s head?
Unclear expectations are the biggest problem area with regard to roles. What others expect of you can be quite different than your definition of the role. Are you clear about your role? And have you communicated the critical success factors of your role to all concerned? How are you meeting their expectations of the role?