In the Office: What's Your Role?

No matter what job you have, you are responsible for specific tasks and perform a particular role. Your role and responsibilities can be very well defined in many cases, especially if you're in a larger company. However, if you have a job for a typical small business, your role and responsibilities can change from day-to-day. Regardless of your specified job duties, you are a part of a "team" who's success is tied to your ability to understand, accept and thrive in your role. From the moment that you start working for any company, you have a role to play. It may or may not be explicitly defined, but your role will play a key part in your success.

A company's success depends largely on their employee's understanding and agreement on their individual responsibilities, but it depends even more so on the employee's willingness to understand their role which is completely different and separate from their responsibilities. Your role may not be what is written as part of your job description or responsibility. You may have been hired to do a specific job and perform certain duties, but your role might include mentoring or leading or training or encouraging others or being the brand's champion. Your role might be acting as the conduit between two factions within the company or as the mediator between your boss and another co-worker or you could be the calm in the midst of the storm. Your personality can bring additional responsibilities as they relate to your role. This isn't technically your job or a part of a job description, but this is a role that is taken on because of the needs within the company. This role within the team plays a significant part in the success of your company whether that role is more functional or inspirational or "big" or "small."

To make a sports analogy, the thing that I like to remember is that the person who never plays in a game on a sports team still gets a ring if the team wins a championship. Each player has played a role in the team's success even if that specific person never makes a play in an actual game. They actually in some cases could in many ways be the MVP without ever getting on the court. Their ability to play their role is a pivotal element that goes unnoticed by many outsiders. When Dennis Rodman was in his heyday, there were a few players who were added to rosters of teams that wanted Rodman not because they were great contributors on the court, but because they could play a role in helping to keep him functioning both on and off the court. You may not have a role that is quite that extreme, but you can still make a significant contribution if you're able to embrace and understand your role. Once you understand your role, you will find that personal success can be directly tied to your role as much as being able to "do your job."

Many people think that if they are not promoted by a certain time or if some specific career advancement doesn't take place or at least acknowledgment does not occur then they are not appreciated or they are not really valued within their company. However, a good role player understands that there are definitely times to stand up and command respect and another time to accept their role. When the focus is simply on our own personal gain, we tend to forget how to use our role to achieve success. The measurement of success is as much based on our ability to accept our role and perform our responsibilities as it is on your attainment of specific personal goals. Being a team player includes learning how to be humble and accept your role. In some cases, as the old cliche goes, easier said than done.

Playing your role is not a limitation to your success. In fact, playing your role can allow you an opportunity to see things from a different perspective than you had envisioned. Your role can evolve over time as well. It can lead to a position of authority or simply an "inside" level of respect and confidentiality that doesn't even coincide with a position or title. Your role can command greater respect than your title.

Often we approach our jobs as if we simply go to work, do our job and work efficiently, what more can anyone ask? The difference is when you have a "role" within a company, you are more invaluable as an employee than if you simply came, did your job and went home. Having a role means that you set the tone, you participate on a level that only you can and that you somehow enhance the experience for everyone around you. This is how you create an aura of respect greater than just doing a job. Learn to thrive in your role and you will surely be remembered for far more than just doing a job.