Roles vs. Jobs

During one of my recent classes a discussion came up about the difference between roles and jobs. ITIL v3 speaks to the importance of roles in performing the steps or activities of a process or procedure.

A role is a set of responsibilities, Activities and authorities granted to a person or team. A Role is defined in a Process. One person or team may have multiple Roles, for example the Roles of Configuration Manager and Change Manager may be carried out by a single person.               --Service Strategy Glossary
This appears to be a fairly clear definition of “role”. So why do some people have difficulty identifying the proper roles to play during the execution of a process? As the recent discussion showed, it may be because of our long focus on jobs as opposed to roles.

Most learners recognize a difference between the two. When asked how many “job titles” they have, the answer is inevitably that they have one job title. When asked how many roles they perform, they inevitably respond that they play many roles! But the traditional focus on a hierarchy of control tends to have people focus on their job titles and to whom they report, rather than on the duties, steps, activities or instructions they carry out. Unfortunately the majority of people with the title “Analyst” do little or no analysis! Also jobs often get performed one task at a time, rather than according to process or procedure.

To make a process or procedure work most effectively we must begin to shift our focus towards roles, rather than only job titles. How can we make this shift? Here are some easy steps to follow (yes, a process!):

1. Each day when you come to work identify which services you will be supporting that day (it may vary or it may not depending on your own organization)

2. Identify the possible processes you will need to use during the day to strategize, design, transition, operate or improve those services

3. Identify your assigned role within the processes

4. Locate or gather the procedural and work instruction documents for those roles and place them in a convenient location for reference.--If needed, create “cheat sheets” or “quick reference documents”

5. As need arises, perform the steps of the process, procedures, or work instructions, constantly referring to the documentation when in doubt about the next step(s).

6. Make note of how long it took you to perform the process steps as a whole. That way you can compare your daily performance and work towards improvement!

7. Eventually you will be able to perform the process, procedures or work instructions without constant reference to documentation. But keep them handy! Sometimes we may not perform a process daily and so need a refresher (even Professors!!)

Too often we have convinced ourselves that we “know” our jobs or roles because we do them so much. But it never hurts to make sure you really do perform the roles properly (according to process). When we focus on process rather than just assigned tasks, we can begin to maximize the value we bring to the customers and users of the services we provide.

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