Understanding The Key Roles In Your Organization

One of the most important aspects of talent management is that it identifies the different kinds of roles within the organization. While every role in your company is important, not every role is critical or strategic. And by identifying the big picture responsibility of the jobs in your organization, employers can see if their best employees (most talented staff) are in the most important roles in the company. Let’s begin by identifying the three kinds of roles that exist within every company.

The first are strategic roles. About 10-15% of roles within the organization are strategic. Most people typically think that the strategic roles are roles like the president of the company, the senior vice-president of the company, the chief financial officer of the company or the chief technology officer of the company. These may in fact be strategic roles within the organization but surprisingly strategic roles may be roles that you wouldn’t think about as being strategic. For example, I wrote an article recently called “Why is Joe Smith the FedEx Driver More Important Than Fred Smith the CEO of FedEx?” and the reason for that is that Fed Ex recognizes that the strategic role for their organization are the truck drivers: The men and women who get those packages from the warehouse where they land to the office or home where the people who need them need them. This is what FedEx is all about and these roles are very much strategic for this company.

Another great example points to employees who are in the same job but in one company they are strategic and in another company they are not strategic and that would be the difference between an airline like Southwest which is a low budget quick turnaround, point-to-point airline versus American Airlines which is a hub and spoke airline that is going to connect people from one place to another. At Southwest Airlines the ramp people – the people who get the bags out of the plane and onto the ramp and out so that that plane is ready to turn around and get going quickly and effectively are strategic roles: At American Airlines not so much. The plane is going to be on the ground for an hour, maybe an hour and a half. The ramp people want to get it out efficiently, that is obviously good customer service but it is not nearly as important as it is for Southwest Airlines where their planes are going to be turned around in 10 minutes. You have got to get those bags off. You have got to get the new bags on. Southwest Airlines, American Airlines.-both same positions, ramp people. One strategic and the other one is the second area that we talk about related to organizations which have to do with supporting roles.

The next group of job roles is “supporting roles”. Supporting roles keep internal operations moving. Information technology is a supporting role. Operations is a supporting role. Human resources is a supporting role. Safety manager is a supporting role. These roles are very important and vital to the organization. However, their importance is really secondary to the more important strategic roles.

Finally, the third group of roles in an organization are the core roles. These are the ones that are required for operational excellence. They may be your manufacturing roles if you are manufacturing steel or some other product. They may be your sales and marketing positions. Again, these roles are vitally important to the success of the organization but they are not strategic. By the way, the core roles will fill about 20-25% of all jobs while strategic are about 10-15% of the company and operational around 60%.

Understanding these roles in any organization is central to building a talent management model. You recognize immediately where you need to put your energy, where you need to find the best people, where you need to actually assess what roles are most important and whether those people that you have in those roles are the best people for the organization.

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