Does Your Behaviour Match Your Role and Responsibility?

Some weeks ago, I went into a shop selling hair related lotions and potions.  The only retail assistant was a young woman who was looking at her reflection in the mirror, flicking her hair and peering at her face.  I didn’t expect her to jump to attention but some acknowledgement would have been good. I clearly had an expectation of her role and the responsibility that went with it.

She knew I was there but chose to ignore me.  Strangely enough I thought her role and responsibility was to acknowledge me and offer help.  As I write this I wonder what her answer would have been if I had asked her what her role and responsibility as a retail assistant was, and on that particular day how did it match her behaviour towards me.

You have sorted your values haven’t you…..

In my last article, I mentioned that when I work with dysfunctional teams who need to move on from destructive behaviour, one of the first things I do is work with them as they identify a set of values and behaviours that they will use as they make the transition to a more effective way of behaving.

The second thing I do is check in on each person’s understanding of the expectations of the role they hold and the expectations the other roles in the team hold of that role.  Regardless of what the situation is: mentor or mentee, team leader and team member, volunteer (volunteer situations are an excellent breeding ground for conflict), it is important to clarify and agree each person’s role and responsibility.

The lines get a bit blurry when the ‘blame frame’ (otherwise known as gossiping, moaning and blaming) starts. “That’s your job…”  “No, I thought you were…”. “She never…”

The Drama of an Open Plan Office

Open plan offices are wonderful things.  Last year I spent some time in one and at times my jaw was somewhat clenched.  If I had a conversation with someone about the work I was doing, one of my cubicle mates would pipe up and join in the conversation and give advice.

The thing was they had very little experience in what I was doing but still felt they could lecture me on what I needed to consider (open plan offices are an article in their own right). There are two things here. One, the role and responsibility of each individual in an open plan work space, and two, the acceptance of your ‘job’ role and responsibility and not overstepping the boundaries.

 A Sense of Entitlement

Where once clarification of roles and responsibilities was enough, now it seems it is also around getting people to understand and then accept the boundaries of their role and responsibilities.  In the last three or so years, I have come across this more and more – where people knowingly and clearly overstep the boundaries of their role.  For example, consistently challenging their manager’s decisions.

Thought for the Week

For the next week identify all the different roles you play in your life.  For each one, consider how clear you are – and those around you –  about the responsibilities of each of your roles. Roles and responsibilities can be dynamic (not static as anyone with teenagers knows) so it is important to keep aware of what is staying the same and what is changing.

Pam Finnie lives in Taranaki and is currently de-cluttering her house.  This may take some time as since she started she has brought several things and given nothing away. Pam works throughout New Zealand and Australia.  You can check out her website if you’d like to know more about the services she provides. If you reproduce this material in anyway please acknowledge PJ Finnie –


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