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It’s no secret that the world of work is rapidly changing.

The World Economic Forum’s 2018 report on the future of jobs predicts that current organizational roles are likely to disappear as early as 2022, only to be replaced by new ones. This means organizations will be faced with the need to hire people in novel positions, in turn, challenging leaders and HR professionals to define and articulate the job responsibilities and vision of the new roles.

So, how can a company begin to tackle this? E.A.S.I-Consult, LLC® recommends that you begin with the vision and mission of your organization.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How will this new role contribute to our future?
  • What outcomes do we expect from this position?
  • How will the position change over the next few months and years?
  • What will it look like further in the future?
  • What technical and soft skills will be needed by the incumbent?

Then, take a look at similar positions elsewhere… but be careful not to let this limit your creative and innovative instincts. The world of work is changing. That’s why you’re creating this new job. Don’t expect the demands of the job to be static; change will continue to be a constant.

In their 2018 Harvard Business Review article, Sukhbir Sandhu and Carol T. Kulik identified three approaches to consider when designing a new role. Like the classic children’s tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, some approaches are too loose, some are too tight and others are just right.

Sandhu and Kulik cite a study they conducted across 21 organizations that recently established a sustainability manager position and had appointed someone to that new role. To better understand the tension between control and freedom in designing new roles, they analyzed more than 4,000 pages of interview data, company documents and media reports and found that organizations vary in how tightly they structure their new positions. What emerged were those three “storybook” patterns mentioned above.

They found the “Goldilocks fit” to be between structural controls and employee freedom.  The just right approach used a broad commitment to the goal of the job, but the specific initiatives were not rigidly formalized. Sandhu and Kulik point out that this approach allows the incumbent to feel empowered with considerable discretion to champion innovative initiatives.

An example with new positions at Apple

In February 2017, Apple decided to take an innovative new approach to the sales staff of Apple stores, which had been redesigned and renamed Apple Stores.

As a result, three new positions were created:

  • Pro– a new top-level sales position
  • Creative Pro– a mid-level position providing support to customers
  • Technical Expert– a new support position between technical specialist and genius

The definition or design of these roles was based on a vision or credo.  In summary, it includes: “Enriching Lives” (i.e., helping dreamers become doers); being “At Our Best” (i.e., becoming a place where everyone belongs and redefining expectations);and, finally, “At Our Core” (i.e., created and operating under the belief that the soul of Apple is its people).

In Apple’s case, a credo was a good outline because it encompassed a central belief and gave each role a direction… without over-defining the roles and, therefore, leaving room for innovation and growth.

Some crucial steps to consider

We believe the following steps will support your efforts to create a new role with the “just right” fit:

  • Understand and define how the new role contributes to your vision or mission.
  • Select and assemble key stakeholders in ensuring the new position is.  For example, this might include your marketing, operations, HR reps, and customers. Their input is valuable.
  • Establish 12-month deliverables. They should be achievable with the ability to grow beyond the target. Maintain flexibility for the person in the role to adjust and expand as they themselves grow.
  • Build out a set of competencies that will assure success in the new position.
  • Look at the potential candidate’s attributes. Ensure they match the competencies needed for success.
  • Finally, take advantage of current or similar related positions to kick start the design of the position but be cautious to avoid duplicating away innovation and future foresight about what the new role could be.

The employees you hire can make or break the success of your initiative. You may be tempted to hire the current employee who “looks” like they can drive this. Open the door to fresh and new ideas.

David Smith, PhD, is the president and CEO of E.A.S.I•Consult®. E.A.S.I•Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government   agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. E.A.S.I•Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E.A.S.I•Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.