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In any company everyone has a different role to play. How well you understand your role will influence how much savvy you have and ultimately how valuable you are. Imagine that you're an actor in a stage play; you've been given the title of your role, but no script and no information about the character that you're supposed to play. Not only will that be very frustrating for you, but the audience will probably not enjoy it much either. It's no different in your job. You've been given a position and a title to go along with it.
How well do you understand the role that you're to play in the business and where it fits into the company as a whole? The better you understand that, the better you'll be able to relate to the people around you and help each other succeed. The easiest place to start is by looking at your company's organization chart. An org chart shows the structure of the company, typically with various levels of leadership. No matter where your position is in the chart, you'll want to identify three things.
First, identify who you're accountable to. Who do you report to on a regular basis? In traditional businesses, this will usually be one person. In less established, or high-growth businesses, you may have multiple people that you view as your boss. If you're not clear about who you're accountable to, it's important to ask. Find out who the person is that you should be meeting with on a regular basis to report your results. Next, you want to identify who in the org chart is accountable to you? If you have any kind of managerial responsibility, there are people who are reporting to you.
Have you established a system of regular contact with these people? I recommend a regular one-to-one meeting at a set time and place with each of them to keep communication open. If you want more insight on how to hold those one-to-one meetings, see the Effective Meetings course here on lynda.com. Next we want to identify in your org chart those people you're coordinating with. They're usually on the same level as you, on the org chart. You're probably going to be talking with these people a lot and sharing resources. It's helpful to get together with them as a group on a regular basis to coordinate your efforts.
Now that you understand the role that you're playing in the company, let's consider your job description. In the acting metaphor, this is the script that tells you what you're supposed to do and say. Hopefully, your company provided you with the description of the duties and responsibilities of your position when you were hired. This position description outlines your job responsibilities. How often do you look at that document and review how you're doing with those responsibilities? There is usually a formal evaluation time when your boss will tell you how well you're doing, but part of being savvy is anticipating the company's needs and how well you are meeting them.
I recommend you look at that position description on your own once a month and ask yourself if there are any areas where you need to improve. Now what if you weren't given a written description? This is a common situation in small or high-growth businesses. In a meeting with your manager, ask them to help you come up with a written list of all your job responsibilities. You may wish to explain to them that you're trying to document the position. If your company doesn't have documented positions, just that act alone will increase your value, because you'll be helping to create some business systems.
The more you research and understand your role, the easier it is for you to perform well and become savvy.
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