There’s nothing more amazing than the endless incidents of mind-bending screw ups by otherwise successful financial services companies. Every employee at a life insurance agency or financial planning firm has stories, ranging from miscalculations and costly errors of judgment to downright avoidable mistakes.
It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Years ago, “silos” were a serious issue causing poor communication, confusion, misunderstanding and counter-productive internal competition.
Then came the “we’re all on the same team” movement that morphed into the “knock down the office walls” movement, with everyone having a “desk for the day.”
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Now, we’ve moved to the silos of 2019, with employees donning head phones, sending emails rather than chatting with colleagues, and working from home as much as they can. Even though we tout “working as a team,” employees are a silo of one.
To add to the discontent, performance reviews are called into question. They miss the mark and cause dissatisfaction on both sides of the table. Along with them, businesses are moving past job descriptions. If they are viewed as road maps, they don’t come close to matching up with reality.
For a business to be competitive today and to flourish in the future, employees must take on new and different roles beyond their usual job-related activities. We can call them Meta Roles that enhance individuals and affect a company’s future.
The goal of Meta Roles is not to “get everyone onboard,” reading from the same playbook, agreeing with their boss, or CEO. They serve a totally different purpose: to make people less compliant and more engaged.
Instead of trying to get employees to do a better job, the objective of Meta Roles is to motivate them to enhance their value so they can help move themselves and their company forward. It’s to help people become keenly aware of what’s going on around them. Meta Roles are like software that’s always “running in the background” that can be called upon as needed.
Meta roles are serious tools for influencing productive outcomes. They benefit companies and enhance careers. Here they are:
Meta Role #1. Diagnostician
Businesses have long been the undisputed spawning grounds for employee complaints. While a certain amount of venting may be therapeutic, more often than not they go nowhere. What may be helpful ideas and insights are lost in what is affectionately known as “blowing off steam.” This is little more than an exercise without ownership. And that’s unfortunate because it’s also a missed opportunity.
The Diagnostician, much like the medical internist who is skilled in identifying problems and prescribing treatment to keep patients healthy, the Diagnostician plays a similar role on the job. The task is not only figuring out what needs attention, but coming up with workable solutions.
One example: Diagnosticians don’t robotically take care of customers. They want to know what’s deficient in the customer experience and what action can be taken to change it.
Meta Role #2. Dreamer
Dr. June McCarroll, an Indio, CA physician, had enough of being push off the road by inconsiderate truck drivers. She proposed putting center lines on highways. The year was 1917, but the all-male county Board of Supervisors didn’t see a need.
Undeterred, she got on her hands and knees and painted a two-mile long white stripe down the middle of the road in front of her house. Even so, it wasn’t until 1924 that state highway officials adopted striping roads, after being bombarded with letters from members of the Woman’s Club of Indio. By the way, Doctor June wore a six-shooter when making house calls.