Roles, Prestige, and Organization Value


A role is a part or a function performed by a person in a particular position or situation. With most roles that are associated certain expectations of behavior. For example, we expect anyone who is a company president to behave differently from a junior employee, or the foreman to behave differently from the workers, or the coach differently from the player. Thus, it is that if we know someone’s role (which is often indicated by his job title or assignment), we can make some reasonable predictions about some of his behavior, even though we do not know the person. If a particular person behaves differently than is generally expected of someone in his role, uneasy feelings, often negative, frequently result.

 In a given organization, various roles have to be performed, and each of them is likely to carry a certain prestige, the amount of which will depend on the importance of that role to the achievement of goals and on preconceived expectations of the role. For example, we expect the role of president to be more important that that of general manager, and more prestige is accorded to the president. The roles and prestige of individuals and groups are useful to note because they help influence behavior and interrelationships in significant ways. Think how role expectations might affect a general manager as he deals with the president, a shop foreman, a worker, and his secretary. If you think his behavior might differ, why do you think so?

 You can predict rather easily the prestige accorded certain individuals and groups and the roles they perform. Think for a moment how both things and space serve as status symbols in a business organization. Observation of such symbols help indentify the relative value assigned both individuals and groups.

 By noting the resources, things, and space allocated to work groups and people, and the nature and conditions of their work, and by considering these factors in the context of the total organization, we can often get good understandings of both their relative status in the organization and some of the factors influencing them. In addition, such observations indicating something about the values of the organization. By noticing the quantity and quality of various facilities and people, and by observing the things and help high-status people have (and low status people do and do not have), you can make reasonable deductions about the values of the organization. For example, you can tell something about the college that has a large new library and no stadium as compared with one that has a large stadium and a small library.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Structure, Roles, and Rules


What sort of structure would help the team function innovatively? The purpose of any structure is to make sure that certain essential tasks, especially repetitive tasks, get done. Structure need not be incompatible with creativity if it realeases time and energy for creative work rather than blocking creativity with excessive rules, specialization, centralization, etc. What, therefore, needs to be done is to make an inventory of tasks that must be performed more or less repitively, and allocate these tasks to individuals within or outside the team.

 However, the roles of team members should not be defined only in terms of these tasks;  there are only minimum elements of their roles. It is important to define roles broadly and not too strictly. Some ambiguity helps interaction and role clarification, not by the leader but by the situation. Indeed, it heps to have versatile team members, i.e., persons who can double for others should the need arise. Periodic interchange of roles within the team can help develop this verstality. Researchers have indicated some specific roles in innovative teams beyond those for effective teams. The creative scientist/engineer/idea man is one role. The entrepreneur (vis-à-vis the outer world) and the intrapreneur (vis-à-vis the team members) are further roles. The entrepreneur seeks new missions for the group. The intrapreneur seeks new activities within the broad mission for group members. The protector-defender-sponsor is a fourth role, whose function is to get the team the resources it needs for innovative work from the larger system of which it may be a part, and also to defend the team from external pressures or attacks. The gatekeeper is a fifth role, that of bringing to the team essential market, technical, or political intelligence from outside that can become the basis for meaningful divergent thinking. These roles need not be played by different individuals. The important point is that they should get played.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight