“That’s not my job.” – Are you sure?

I first read the term “superjob” just a few weeks ago, but I have actually seen it over the last year or two.  No, it’s not a job where you put on a cape and fight crooks (though my 5-year-old daughter thinks it is).   From a business perspective, I would define this particular trend it as “doing more with less.”

If you haven’t heard this term, yet, you still have probably noticed it in action at your workplace.  Remember the manager of Customer Service?  They use to be in charge of that single department.  How is it that they’re now also managing Sales on top of managing Customer Service?   

What about that helpful person in IT?  You know, the one that fixed your computer the last time it got a really nasty virus.  Why are they fixing computers one minute, and making sales calls another?     

The recession caused a big shakeup with employers.  Most businesses were forced to cut back on their workforces.  Even here at Blanchard, while we were able to preserve our entire workforce from budget cuts, some colleagues left the company to pursue other opportunities.  Those colleagues had other goals and would have most-likely moved on had the recession not occurred.  However, our budget for growing our own workforce was frozen until we could see better financial times.

As a result, open positions that normally would have been filled by one individual who would only be tasked with the responsibilities of that position, were then filled by other individuals who already had one role within the company.  The “superjob” was born.

The superjob has emerged as a role in all ranges of businesses, from small to large companies.  Budget setbacks have required everyone to become more flexible in terms of their responsibilities. 

Anne Kadet wrote an article on the Wall Street Journal coining the term if you want more examples.  I’m sure you can draw some additional parallels between the examples and your own work environment.  The big plus that Anne Kadet points out is that the superjob causes a great deal of personal growth.  By picking up additional responsibilities, you are essentially increasing your skill set for the future and your own career path.  She also points out that businesses are likely to start looking at this as the new norm, even when profitability returns to pre-recession levels.

This leaves a question as to how this will affect leadership, especially for those now managing more than one department/unit.   Most leaders are already taxed for time, more so when it comes to checking in regularly with their direct reports.  What trends will emerge?  Will this shift require leaders to reorganize their departments to be more efficient in managing their people?  What about the need to say “no” to additional work when knowing upfront that they will not be able to meet any additional deadlines?

As always, I welcome your thoughts!  Leave your comments!

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