Job Responsibilities: How To Define Your Role
Career Magazine

Pep Talk: Be Clear About Your Role

When the roles and responsibilities in a current position aren’t clear, how do you ask for clarification without confrontation?

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To do your job well, it’s necessary to know what your roles and responsibilities are. Not having clarity can breed apathy, frustration, and confusion. Whether your job description was poorly outlined when you were hired or got blurred during the economic downturn when you may have had to take on extra duties, you must know and understand your job function. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor or manager ASAP to gain the upper hand.

To keep confrontation at bay, don’t go in looking to blame or find fault with those you report to. Because (as crazy as it sounds) you’re still accountable for helping to meet the goals–defined or undefined–of the company. That’s why you must remain positive and proactive. Pose direct questions and actively listen. Not only do you want a refresher of what your focus should be, but also discuss additional tasks, charges, or interests you may want to fold into these current efforts. Bottom line: Find out how you can best serve the company in the short and long term while also growing as a professional. Also be prepared to discuss how you’ve delivered thus far. It’s never smart to come empty-handed and in need of others to point you in the right direction; that could just get you pointed toward the exit sign.

Be patient yet tenacious while obtaining answers and feedback. Of course, follow up the meeting with an e-mail outlining the conversation and thanking your supervisor for his or her time. Above all feel enthused; you now have your directives, and your managers now know how you will remain an asset to the company. And you’ll be able to manage not only their expectations but also your own. Read “The Ex(pectation) Factor” (Motivation, December 2009).