The Value of Knowing Your Plus Role

We no longer live in a world where making a big impact can be done by only focusing on what your job description entails. Competition is at an all time high and top tier performance is now a baseline expectation for most employers. So if being great at what you are supposed to do isn’t enough, what is the best way to drive change? Welcome to the world of the “plus role”.

What is a plus role?
Official ownership of function that spans beyond your original role.
Example: My job is Director of Outbound Marketing. I am responsible for driving revenue through Marketing programs from multiple perspectives – regions, verticals, segments, and products. My plus role is liaison with Sales. My responsibility is to channel information to Sales from Marketing and from Sales to Marketing.

How does a plus role apply to the real world?
Note there is an emphasis on this being official or formal, which is the big difference between a plus role and the normal misc tasks that creep into each job. It means there is a consensus that you are the go-to person for this situaton, regardless of business area, product, etc. It is not easy to complete the job you are supposed to do while formally taking on additional responsibility for a function where there is a gap. This is a double-edged sword, but trust me, it really makes an impact when implemented correctly.

How is a plus role different than what I already do in my job?
Just my estimate, but 30-40% of work that is done is not actually the primary focus of your role. Think about all of the status updates or business reviews you have put together where you realized a lot of what you were working on had nothing to do with your primary objectives. If you are good, you have still been able to hit your objectives while taking on the additional initiatives. So what happens then? You make your report, show how you hit your goals, and move on without giving it much thought.

What would happen if you took time to think about the “other” stuff? We all get pulled into various tasks not directly related to our job. We usually jump in, tackle the problem with a short term solution, and move on. Here is the problem with that mentality – there is probably someone else doing the exact same thing as you for the exact same problem. The knowledge becomes siloed and is not used again to make things better for everyone. Now you have multiple people doing something to get around a problem instead of one person owning the solution. Being pulled in multiple directions is normal, what a plus role allows is a chance to harness the 30-40% that we are all not using effectively.

What are the benefits of a plus role?
There are two perspectives to answering this question:

  • Company’s perspective – Having a single person allows for an expertise to be built up by knowing all of the facets of the problem. You will gain more efficiency, effectiveness, and ultimately someone who is going to work to solve the problem (or at least make it better).
  • Individual’s perspective – If you are doing well at your primary job, a plus role gives you perspective across a whole new dimension of the business. You get to tackle new obstacles in new areas, gain a better working knowledge of the business, and overall increase your value back to the organization.

What is my first step to defining my plus role?
Look for opportunities in the work you are already doing. This takes 5 minutes, but it is an exercise that will open your eyes to the gaps that exist in your current business. Open your calendar up and look at the past 3 months. Only look at the titles of the meetings. If you can find a meeting that occurs more than twice (staff meetings do not count), then you might have a potential winner. I can almost guarantee you will find a function or initiative that could use solid leadership by doing this. The other part of the equation is to decide whether or not you will be passionate about taking on this additional responsibility. If it matches up, then you have something to work with and the fun begins.

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