L&D professionals should not underestimate non-job roles

Written by Tim Baker on 17 October 2013

The non-job roles employees play are as important as the job roles.

Employees work can generally be considered to have two parts: a job role and non-job role. 

The job role is the technical requirements of the job such as developing and maintaining a budget. Employees traditionally get employed on the basis of demonstrating competencies and experience in the technical aspects of their job.  This is what I refer to as the job role.

On the other hand, the non-job role covers those aspects of work that are critical to being a functioning employee in the organisation. These non-job roles are rarely mentioned in the job description but are nevertheless important.  Unfortunately they are not so easy to measure.  The non-roles employees play in organisations are numerous. 

However, there are three non-job roles that are arguably critical to all jobs in all industries. They include:

• team role

• career  role

• innovation role

The team role is the capacity of the employee to work with and through other stakeholders to deliver a good outcome for the organisation. This role is becoming increasingly important as organisations become flatter and more interdependent. Yet there are many employees who have superb technical skills (job role) and poor team skills (non-job role). In this day and age, these people can be a liability to organisational success. 

The career role assists the employee to enhance their capabilities to do their current and future job. It is about a willingness to continue to grow and develop. Again, we all know people who have decided to stop developing and they can also be a liability to the organisation. 

The innovation role is the capacity of the employee to continually improve his or her efficiency and effectiveness and to come up with practical innovative suggestions that improve the organisations ability to deliver better results. We increasingly want people to bring their brains to work and not leave them in a paper bag at the door. 

Each of these three role and other non-job roles are increasingly becoming more important for success. Working in teams is now the dominant organising structure in organisations. The increasing pace of change means that employees are expected to unlearn and re-learn new capabilities. Our competitive global economy places greater emphasis on innovation and continuous improvement at all levels of the organisation. These non-job roles are more important than ever in a climate of accelerated change and uncertainty. 

Yet the job descriptions we rely on so much mentions very little about these and other non-job tasks.

I suggest making specific mention of these three non-job roles in your job descriptions. By doing so, the job description becomes a role description. In other words it spells out the role an employee is expected to play in the organisation rather than the job they are expected to do. 

From an L&D perspective, there are three dimensions of learning. These include a production-centred, person-centred and problem-centred approach. The non-job approach fits within the person-centred and problem-centred approaches. By focusing on these two approaches, L&D professionals broaden the array of opportunities.

About the author
Dr Tim Baker is an international consultant and managing director of WINNERS AT WORK. He can be contacted via www.winnersatwork.com.au
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