“What do you do?”
It’s a simple enough question heard time and time again—at social and business events, high school and family reunions, and conferences. People should have no problem answering this simple question, then, right? Wrong.
Ask this question and you’ll see that the first response you get will likely be someone’s job title, which reveals little or nothing about a person’s day-to-day. Pushing a bit, you’ll get more inside baseball babble: “I am a lead software developer,” “I run sales for the northern region of XYZ,” and so on. At this point, ask the person to further define their role by naming the two most important things they do. They may come up with tasks that they perform at work, but it’s unlikely that they can connect these tasks to the meaning of their role in the company and what they do to drive business results.
There are two reasons why people can’t answer this simple question:
Clearly this is problematic and, I would argue, inhibits growth. So what can we, both as managers and employees, do to fix this lack of clarity around performance goals and job function?
As a manager:
As an employee:
But why does all this matter? No one can be motivated to strive for a goal if they don’t know what that goal is. If you know clearly what is expected of you at your job, what goals you need to meet, figures you need to hit, you’re obviously more likely to succeed. Following the steps above as a manager, and encouraging your employees to do the same, is a surefire way to make your team more productive and unlock your growth power. If you continue to allow fuzzy job descriptions to persist, you’ll continue to get fuzzy, off-the-mark results. Good communication is hard, but it makes all the difference. Put the effort in up front and you will get results that make it well worthwhile.