By Travis Marsh

Parting ways with an organization is never easy. When it comes to exiting colleagues, leaders usually walk three common paths. The first one is acting fast. If someone consistently fails to meet expectations or live by the company’s values, most managers would ask that person to leave. Others prefer to act slower and give individuals time to improve their performance and behavior on their own, which may be impossible if they don’t know what to improve. The third path is trying to fix the person by staging an intervention.

If someone doesn’t have the necessary feedback and tools to improve their performance or is unwilling to reflect and work on their weaknesses, these three paths will lead to the same destination: exiting the company. But what if teams could help struggling members and those who want to do more rediscover their strengths and become actual contributors to the organization?

Job performance is intrinsically linked to personal motivation. According to Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor’s book Primed to Perform, the nine factors that motivate employees are performance reviews, governance processes, compensation, leadership, workforce and resource planning, community, career ladders, organizational identity, and role design. Doshi & McGregor clearly found that role design was the most influential of all and, unfortunately, one that is usually overlooked. Role design can increase motivation by 87%. Finding our ideal role within an organization can radically change our relationship with work and give us a sense of purpose. But how do we craft roles that can leverage everyone’s strengths? And is this something we should do individually or as a team?

The Ian Martin Group, a company we mention several times in Lead Together, came up with something called the Role Advice Process (RAP). On the one hand, this process allows teams to design roles collectively and modify them as their needs and goals evolve. On the other, it helps people play to their strengths and find their place within the organization. Let’s see how the RAP works.

How RAP works

To make it easier for leaders and their teams to implement a Role Advice Process, here are some guides from Human First Works. These documents offer all the context you’ll need to go through this process, support your colleagues, or understand your role as a leader:

Going through a RAP is an opportunity to change our roles within an organization. Maybe our current role is going away, it isn’t a good fit for us, or we’re just looking to expand our skills and even take on a parallel one. This process allows people that aren’t performing well or want to contribute something more to discover a new role in which they can thrive or make a conscious decision to find their place at a different company. A RAP can be incredibly valuable to leaders as well, as it takes the responsibility to match people to jobs away from them and passes it on to the team. It’s no surprise that Edwin Jansen from the Ian Martin Group refers to it as a “panacea” for dealing with a people problem.

A Role Advice Process has several steps. It begins with an individual’s desire to change their role or a suggestion from a colleague that noticed a significant problem or opportunity for improvement. Once someone has decided to embark on this process, the next step involves announcing it to the team, choosing at least three people that will actively participate in the RAP, inviting any member to give their advice, and setting a date for presenting the results. The team typically places a thirty days timeline.

Steps three and four require time for self-reflection and willingness to listen to other people’s advice. We have to look back at the reasons that led us to this process, identify our weaknesses, strengths, and interests, and think of what we could do to be in a better situation. Based on our reflection, people with a clear view of the organization and our contribution can give us their input to help us make better decisions.

In step five, we need to decide. We can either choose a different role, alter our current one, or leave the organization if there’s no good fit for our skills and interests. After we make a decision, we’ll need to present the results to the team in a summary document, which includes our thought process, the advice we received, our decision, and the transition plan. The final step is taking action and ensuring there’s a smooth transition with our colleagues.

A RAP can only help us if we’re honest

In traditional organizations, the solution to bad performance, misalignment, or dissatisfaction is asking employees to leave. Embracing a self-management practice such as a Role Advice Process will benefit both struggling individuals and the organization by allowing them to put their skills to good use and become more engaged. Does this mean that we get to delegate every task we don’t like and never face any challenges? Of course not, but a RAP can help us achieve better outcomes and connect with our purpose, even if that means finding it outside of our current organization.

An example is Mario, whose name we’ll change for privacy reasons. He started in a sales support role. As he watched sales presentations and grew into the role, he learned a lot about what customers wanted and needed in the product. The sales team started pushing him to become a salesperson, but Mario became more reserved and kept missing sales update meetings and metrics set by his team. It was clear that he didn’t have the desire or personality to be “asking for new business.” After a RAP process, Mario moved into customer support and product installation. He built best practices processes that are still used and evolving today. 

If the new role had not worked out and the choice is made to part ways with the company, a RAP provides a time window to map out a transition plan and agree on compensation. But we have to step into this process with positive intent and honesty. Its success depends on three elements: clear agreements, honest communication, and personal choice. If an individual constantly fails to meet expectations, can’t align with the organization’s values, and is unwilling to reflect on their behavior and change it, no patience or effort from their colleagues will make a difference. When a team has clarity on those three elements, it can notice and name problematic behavior, start difficult conversations early on, and help a person either find a new role or make the best decision for everyone involved.

Connect with Travis.jpg

Would you like to learn more about the Role Advice Process and how to implement it in your organization? Then feel free to grab some time on my calendar to discuss it more in-depth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *