The Life Cycle of Roles - Not All Roles Are Created Equal

Life is just not fair. There are some roles that get the best out of a person, and then there are roles that were designed to make your life feel at times like hell on earth. It was only recently that I discovered that there is a life cycle for roles, similar as for a company.

The best roles are those with a great company and with a great boss. However, not all roles are created equal. In two of my roles I only stayed for one year, but started looking around after one month, as I realized my unfortunate mistake. What I didn't realize was that the roles did not fit me.

Here are some interesting roles, at different stages of the life cycle, that you may be recruiting for:

1. The Explorer. A new role is always risky. Often the business is unsure of what the role is all about. The incumbent needs to shape it to fit the business. They will either love it or hate it. Usually takes leave at the end of a role. Ideal for adventurers keen to explore new territory. Must be a problem solver par excellence. Recruiters Tip: Refer to challenges and opportunities.

2. The Actor. The role has been revamped as the previous person failed to make it. Look for the murder weapon. Role may have been vacant for years until need have finally been reestablished. Now includes all the odd jobs nobody wants to do. Incumbent takes leave every few months to look for another role. Ideal for those who still believes in fairy tales. Recruiters Tip: Stay in touch with incumbent as they will be looking soon for their next role.

3. The Rower. This is an on-going role. The seat was still warm and everyone expects you to simply pick up where the last person left off. Works best if you share the same name as the previous incumbent, saves on working to create an impression, as well as email – charles@. Incumbent needs to take three weeks of leave every year to recharge the batteries. Ideal for those looking for a comfortable role and keeping things steady. Recruiters Tip: As you already know the business it should be a fairly straightforward assignment.

4. The Diplomat. Your manager had too much to do and all delegated/unwanted tasks have been packaged in this role. Great title but no responsibility. Will spend most of your time in endless meetings. Takes leave one day at a time so job insecurity remains undiscovered. Ideal for a go-between. Previous marketers please apply. Recruiters Tip: Great contact to reach network in the business.

5. The Slave. Often carries title such as Administrator. Low risk role but heavy workload. Previous person knew everybody. Need ability to write down long list of things to do. After every meeting will have an action list. Incumbent takes all their sick leave. Ideal for those who likes extreme sports. Recruiters Tip: Role will be vacated on regular basis.

6. The Player. Great role and you are part of the team. Your role is well-defined and every one knows your role and how it fits in with the rest of the team. Last incumbent was promoted. Leave is planned months in advanced. Ideal for hard-working and ambitious person. Recruiters Tip: Successful placement will often lead to referrals.

All roles need to be filled. However, badly designed or misaligned roles will do little to enhance a candidate’s CV or help the recruiter with more roles with that client. Understanding where a role is in it's life cycle is an important factor to determine best fit. Some candidates are ideal explorers, others prefer to be players.

It has been said that people join good companies and leave bad managers. Most of my roles have been great, largely because I got on well with my manager. A good manager can make a bad role tolerable and will promote you if do a good job. A bad manager will quickly make a good role feel like you are part of a losing team.

Finding a great role with a great company is like finding a great script with a great producer. It makes for a great movie!

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Tags: actor, design, diplomat, explorer, fit, job design, life cycle, not equal, player, recruitment, More…roles, rower, slave

Comment by Charles Van Heerden on September 25, 2009 at 8:33am
Thanks Oscar for your comments, I certainly agree with your point on right fit. If managers spend more time on recruitment they will find the pay-off in the end.

My article is intended to get managers to understand, albeit with a little bit of humour, that the type of role is important. Too often this issue is ignored by hiring managers and recruiters. Just as it is important to consider the life cycle of the business in order to recruit the right CEO, is it important to consider the life cycle of a role.
Comment by Jason C. Blais on September 28, 2009 at 7:37am
Charles, I really liked this post. I believe that by thinking about the roles you're trying to fill in this way, it adds a level of connection between the position and the person. The expected result of course, will be a better placement. Thanks for giving me a moment to think differently today! I'll definitely be passing this on to others.

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