Is Your Work Performance Oscar or Razzie Worthy?

Great actors immerse themselves completely – physically and mentally – into the successful delivery of their roles on screen. They research the lifestyle and culture of their characters ad nauseam and practice their lines until the dialogue and mannerisms become second nature. And it shows. Bradley Cooper’s performance in American Sniper, for example, moved viewers to tears, myself included. The ability to evoke an emotional reaction from your buyers doesn’t just require talent; it also calls for a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s what we admire and award them for.

2015Jan22_PosterBut at the end of the day, it’s a job – certainly one they’re whole-heartedly passionate about – but, nevertheless, a job. So why don’t more of us invest that same amount of energy into our own roles? Think about it. How many people truly understand the role they’re in – why what they’re doing matters and how it affects the organization’s growth plan. Often, professionals have a difficult time “getting into their roles” or even talking about their roles because they haven’t taken the time to truly understand the meaning behind them. Put simply, not enough people ask, “Why am I doing this?”

I like to call it “role confusion.” Brian Williams is a great example of this. The role of newscaster is to provide an objective report on current events. He evolved from a reliable professional who stated the facts to the butt of a national scandal, exposed by his own fabrications. The lines between nonfiction and fiction began to blur until his reality no longer matched the rest of ours. As a result, people are questioning the work he’s done throughout his entire tenure. He’s a classic case of a man corrupted by his own power, so much so that he forgot the true meaning of his role.


Role confusion all begins with how an organization brands itself to talent and internal staff. Let’s start with a person’s title. Innovative companies are rejecting old-school job titles with something more creative, something that better defines the true meaning of the role. A title like “Director of First Impressions,” for instance, is much more impactful than a boring “Receptionist.” The former implies that the job not only requires leadership skills, but also represents the great responsibility of being a brand ambassador – the first person a customer interacts with. On the other hand, “receptionist” brings to mind a desk job made up of admin tasks. Yuck, right? It’s important that companies give their employees a title they not only fully understand, but something they’ll feel empowered to live up to.


But it’s not all on the employers to alleviate role confusion. Team members must pull their own weight too. First, it’s important to ask yourself these fundamental questions: “Am I in the right role?” and “Am I passionate about it?” If you’re able to give a resounding “YES” then it’s your responsibility to connect the dots and become a constant learner, workforce cameleon, and embracer of change. Instead of blaming your boss for a lack of role clarity, take the initiative to sit down with your supervisor to make sure you’re on the same page. And if you haven’t found your calling, then consider taking a “bit part” (part-time or temporary gig) in order to get to your ultimate destination. These steps towards professional development will provide the much-needed clarity you didn’t know you were craving, not to mention you’ll finally be able to articulate what the purpose of your role is.

Professionals who make a sizable impact in their roles and go above and beyond the items listen on their job description are the people who create a better experience for the rest of us. You’ll never lose if you’re the best at what you do. Whether you’re a CEO in Silicon Valley or a humble sales clerk at Dunkin’ Donuts, somebody will remember you for your academy award performance.

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