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Do you know the difference between your 'role' and your 'job'?

As you seek to transform your company culture, one of the greatest challenges lies in transitioning what begins as a burst of productive energy into lasting, sustainable change. Everyone can get behind a new initiative in the weeks or months after it is rolled out, but it is far more difficult to inspire your workforce to adjust theirways of thinking and replace their habitual behaviors.

In our conversation with Mark Turri, former Corporate Operations Excellence Leader for The HollyFrontier Companies, he alluded to a key differentiation companies must make if they hope to keep cultural change from being simply the next flavor of the month: helping people understand the difference between the "jobs" they perform and their "roles" within the company.

Here's an example Turri gave:According to Turri, the difference is that while a person's job describes what they do on a daily basis, their role encompasses how their actions add value to the organization. Although just about every employee across the country understands his or her job, very few actively think about the role they play in helping their companies succeed.

"I once asked a woman in an accounting department, 'What is your role?' And she replied, 'I process invoices.' After talking about the subject for some time, she corrected herself, 'I process accurate invoices.' That was how she added value, and understanding that can help guide her in how she does her job better. That process can be applied to any job at any organization. Sit refinery managers down and ask them how they add value, sit operators down and ask them how they add value. You might be surprised, that is usually a very tough thing for people to do."

The power of alignment in transforming corporate culture

What Turri is alluding to here is something we call "alignment." In order to truly change your company's culture, every member of your workforce must know the answer to the following questions:

  • What is the overall mission of the organization?
  • What role do I play in helping us achieve that mission?
  • What behaviors am I expected to demonstrate in order to fill that role?
  • What specific tasks must I accomplish to make those behaviors a reality?

Central to that process of alignment is the expansion of a workforce mentality to consider adding value, rather than simply executing tasks with no direction. When everyone sees the value of their own
contribution, they will be much more committed to your case for change.

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