5 Steps for Assessing Your Job Description

It’s coming up on that time of year when I assess my activities as an employee. By the time a year has passed, I find that I must redefine my job description. Needs have come up that have required me to step beyond what I was originally hired to do, for example. And I have a bigger vision of what I could be doing to be a more effective member of my team.

My mentor suggested going through the following steps:

  1. Write down everything you currently do – how do you spend your time at work?
  2. List all the elements of your job description – the one that someone would find in your personnel file.
  3. What else would you like to do? List things that are absent from both lists that you want to do as part of your job that you currently don’t do and aren’t in your job description.
  4. Determine the percentage of time you spend on each current activity. Write these values next to each item in your first list.
  5. Determine the percentage of time you want to spend on each item on all three lists.

What have you learned from this exercise? How different are your actual activities from your job description? How different is your vision of your job from what you actually do?

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Reworking the vision

I’ve been traveling down a path with a certain vision. However, it’s time for a few tweaks. I realized something very important: much of my vision depended on others. If I have a vision for who I want to be, it can’t all depend on others. For example, part of the vision is to “be respected.” Do I fail if no one chooses to respect me?

However, at the same time, I also know that we should be interdependent beings, not islands attempting to achieve something all on our own.

Therefore, I want to be clear with myself on what is in my power and what involves the free will of others.

Old vision

As a thought leader I am:

  • respectful and respected
  • balanced and effective
  • enabling and vulnerable
  • boundless with knowledge, yet succinct
  • relaxed with harnessed passion

New vision

I am:

  • happy and fulfilled
  • passionate and peaceful
  • balanced and effective

As an influencer, I am:

  • respectful and respected
  • enabling and vulnerable
  • boundless with knowledge, yet succinct

“Doing” vs. “Being” a Good Leader

My mentor sent me an article on the subject of leadership. I found it helpful as I think of myself as a leader. An individual can be a leader without being a manager. The article talks about asking yourself:

  • 5-7-10: where was I when I was 5 years old? What was I doing 7 years ago? Where do I want to be in 10 years?
  • What do you want to be in ten years? Be ≠ president of the company, retired, spending more time with activity X.

Once you realize that “being” a good leader is different from “doing” your job well, live by the following principles:

  • understand yourself
  • understand your context
  • be fully present with a person and understand their needs and concerns; put away your smartphone and turn away from your computer when you meet with others

Leadership is a lot about the other person, but it’s also about yourself. It’s neither one nor the other alone. It makes sense: the title “leader” is a relational term. You can’t be a leader if you’re not leading anyone.

For example, I always catered to everyone’s “needs,” saying yes to every request and burning myself out. I was focused on the people I was leading and their needs, but I had left out the leadership part of my role (me and the cohesive identity of “being” I want for myself), so I was just being thrown about by the many voiced needs of my colleagues. What I needed to do was clearly define how I want to be as a leader and how that helps people most, and then control my own schedule for achieving that.

Happiness

In my most recent meeting with my mentor (over a delicious cup pumpkin-spice-flavored steamed milk), I realized my vision as a thought leader was missing one important element: happiness. I should make sure that in all of this striving to “be” who I want to be, that I be happy.

I believe my idea of balance is a reactionary goal based on stress, the stress that reduces happiness if not experienced in appropriate doses (like healthy deadlines vs. debilitating inhumane levels of work to be done).

My List of Behaviors

Nearly every diligent person, who is passionate about the work they do, struggles with balance. I have at different points in my career felt more balanced than at other times. I keep a list of “tasks” I need to do – behaviors I have focused on cultivating. The list is different from other task lists, however, because I do not check off any as completed. That’s why I want to call it my list of behaviors. It is a reminder to me that the process is ongoing. My list includes:

Declutter • Focus on one task at once • Allow myself to edit commitments to what I can do • Eliminate all but essentials • Don’t do everything at once • Declutter my mind • Do nothing for a moment • Eat more slowly • Have a purpose for each day • Focus on the big rocks, not the sand • Clear out the inbox • Clear off my desk • Be an early riser • Be motivated • Decompress after high stress situations • Cultivate more compassion • Escape materialism • Live the Golden Rule • Accept criticism with grace and appreciation • Have faith in humanity • Boost my self-confidence and respect my expertise • Live my life mindfully and more aware

I have been focusing on these behaviors for a long time now. There is still progress to be made, but I feel that I’ve come a long way. There are some behaviors listed above that I have improved and others with which I still struggle. However, awareness is the first critical step, as my mentor would say!

A Lack of Balance

My mentor followed up with me on my vision:

Respectful and Respected • Balanced and Effective • Enabling and Vulnerable • Boundless with Knowledge, yet Succinct • Relaxed, with Harnessed Passion

I mentioned that I struggled most with balance this past month. I usually work too hard, don’t get out for lunch, and experience anxiety over every detail, relationship, project, and collaboration. My mentor then drew for me a wheel. I think some people call it a “wheel of life” or a “life balance wheel”. He didn’t draw the typical wheel (where each section represents one of family, career, health, education, spirituality, etc.), but rather my mentor created one out of the parts of the vision I have for myself (respectful and respected, enabling and vulnerable, etc.).

I marked where I felt I was with each part of my vision. Balanced and effective are the characteristics where I marked myself lowest. My goal in the next two weeks is to work on this part of who I am and who I want to be. My balance affects my effectiveness, which I feel affects the other parts of the wheel.

Each section of the wheel requires a certain “value”. I expressed to my mentor that I feel I only have a certain aggregate value and if I spend more value (time, effort, energy) on one part of the wheel, something else will fall short. However, he assured me that the wheel doesn’t necessarily work that way. I realize that the wheel itself reflects balance between all these sections – balance itself is needed for the entire vision to work.

Doing vs. Being

I think I have moments when I am afraid I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m not afraid of the unknown – of adventures and risks and trying something new – I’m afraid of not knowing – what I want, what I should work toward.

However, the point of being mentored is not to do what I want to do – or know what I want to do – but to be and know who I want to be. Being is the real goal. When I am being who I want to be, the doing will naturally come out of it.

Awareness

My mentor once said,

“Awareness – the first step toward transition to change.”

He said months later,

“Take note periodically today about how you are being in the moment. Is it how you want to be? If so, take note. If not, take note. Awareness is intentional.”

This morning on my commute I realized I felt very anxious about the work I have to do. I have projects, but beyond projects I have goals and I feel inundated with all the expectations I have set for myself. My anxiety comes across when I speak (I speak more quickly, perhaps less intentionally, and I don’t feel my thoughts are as organized as they should be). My energy level is reduced. I cannot manage interruptions as effectively. I need to reduce my anxiety: partly in focusing more on balance, partly in the unreasonable expectations I have set for myself.