Jobs: The Social Role

14 Jun

 

A fully functional person is one who has a robust repertory of social roles and knows when to use them appropriately.

 

A social role is a set of integrated knowledge and skills that are appropriate to certain social situations.

 

When people in organizations understand their co-workers social roles, i.e. jobs, they work well together.  There is compelling evidence that most internal conflict In organizations results from misunderstandings regarding  social roles (jobs).

 

We build cultures with families and organizations with jobs.  Clearly defining jobs can improve organizational effectiveness.  A recent trend is to define jobs, not as sets of tasks, but rather as sets of responsibilities.  Tasks have more of the nature of rules whereas responsibilities are clearly principles.

Most job descriptions can be reduced to three to five responsibilities.  This approach acknowledges that jobs change rapidly and invites employees to exercise their experience and common sense to preform the job.  Tasks often encourage employees to do only what is defined and nothing more.

Teaching people about jobs as social roles as small sets of responsibilities is an antidote to the entitlement disease that seems to be sweeping some organizations.


For an in-depth discussion of this issue go to Beyond Luck.

 

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