Saturday, October 26, 2013

What are you?

As a support team, we are often faced with this dilemma. What are we? What is our identity? What is our role? And this question applies across the spectrum regardless of which type of role you play - Human Resources, Innovation, Risk or anything else.

Some roles are created by authority - as per mandate - this type of work needs approval from so and so. This is reminiscent of the old command and control structure where, someone is the gatekeeper. Like the gatekeeper at any place, their role is to restrict the entry of people or things.

Some roles are created by influence - like the sherpas of Nepal/Tibet - this type of work needs no approval and they are highly sought after - based on their expertise and knowledge of the mountains.

You may argue that each of them is different, but there is no reason that someone in the role of a gatekeeper can grow as an enabler. A lot of time it is how you see the role.

Being a gatekeeper is very easy. I have to do this, because someone has mandated that only I can approve this. On the other hand, being an enabler requires true expertise, genuine interest in solving the problem and a win-win thought process. For the gatekeeper you are the problem, but the enabler is focused on finding a solution to your problem.

And this flows into the work that we do. If your work is about exploring options, coming up with solutions, enabling end to end execution for your stakeholders, truly working with teams in helping them find solutions, creating forward looking reports, trying to understand what your can give your stakeholders other than just an 'approved' email, you are being more of an enabler.

If your work is sending reports that nobody reads, attending meetings like a piece of furniture and identifying so called gaps without helping teams fix it, or sending 'approved' emails after 5 days in your inbox - you are more of a gatekeeper.

And finally, what do your stakeholders say about you? Both in front of you and behind your back? Do they recommend you? (if you are an entrepreneur this is easy - you can measure it in your referrals)

Do they say that your team is a curmudgeon that nobody can get work done out of? Or do they say that each time I have walked up to them, they have added value and helped me find a solution?

What do you want them to say about you? (And this applies regardless of whichever type of job you are in)

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