The beauty of a good job description is that it delineates who’s responsible for what, and it provides clarity on specifically what each employee is expected to do. That’s also one of the “bad” things about a “good” job description.
When people get locked into narrowly defined duties and expectations, it can have a paralyzing effect on an organization:
- Employees develop blinders to what’s going on outside their immediate scope of influence and responsibility.
- They become disconnected from the overall business and clueless about how their work fits into the big picture.
- They keep their nose to the proverbial grindstone, and they rarely stray outside of their “box.”
- It puts a damper on cross-functional teamwork, problem-solving and innovation.
- When something goes wrong or someone needs help, people turn the other way or spout the classic bromide, “It’s not my job, man.”
Aside from the obvious negative impact on organizational performance, that kind of straight-jacket work environment also stifles business building opportunities. If you think of effective sales and marketing as “relationship building,” the implications are clear. The “specialists” responsible for sales and marketing are just a fraction of the employees in an organization who have the ability and the opportunity to build the relationships that lead to more business.
Problem is, most people have been stuck in their job descriptions for so long, it’s hard for them to think about doing anything else. Simply adding a sales and marketing task to everyone’s job duties will do little to change the mind-set of people in a hamstrung culture. It takes a systemic shift in the way that people think about their work and the way they connect with the business. Making that shift requires encouragement, support and clear direction on how to become effective company “ambassadors” – people who share the role and responsibility of building customer relationships and the business that flows from it.
In a recent post entitled “Engaging Teams in the Marketing Mission” on her e-newsletter “The Writer’s Desk,” my friend and colleague, Marie Casey of Casey Communications, offers a number of suggestions to help employees break through those barriers so they can play a more direct role in building the business.
Still think people should “stick to their knitting?” As Marie says in her newsletter, “If any entrenched idea should have been extinguished by the Great Recession, it was this one.” So take off the blinders, unlock the shackles and turn your entire workforce into a business-building machine.
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