Do You Have Role Clarity?

Often we feel we do not get recognition for the work that we do in our organisation. We all wish to make meaningful contributions through our work, and we expect recognition for our work. This is in line with the fourth level of motivation in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We get disappointed when do not get the expected recognition after all that work we did.

This reminds me of the story of the donkey and the dog. A washer man had a donkey and a dog. The donkey used to work hard all day and all that the dog did was play and sleep. It would guard the master’s house, barking and alerting when thieves came. What a comfortable and exciting life the dog had, thought the donkey. If I also guard the house and alert the owner when thieves come, I too can enjoy an easy life like the dog. The donkey decides to stay awake all night and catch thieves. After staying awake many a nights, one night thieves come to the washer man’s house. The dog was fast asleep but the donkey noticed the thieves and started braying. Hearing the donkey, the dog also woke up and started barking. In the melee the washer man woke up and saw the thieves taking to their heels. The washer man was relieved and patted the dog and thanked him and appreciated his good work. He turned towards the donkey, picked up a stick and started hitting the donkey for braying in the middle of the night and disturbing his sleep. “The stupid donkey is not sleeping at night because it has less work”, thought the washer man, “From tomorrow I am going to make it work harder”.

From this story we draw lessons on the importance of understanding our responsibilities, and expectations of others from the role or position we occupy - be it at our work or in our personal life. Professor Udai Pareek did extensive studies on role and role stress. He classified role stressors into ten dimensions. Role ambiguity is one of them. Role ambiguity occurs when there is lack of clarity of others’ expectations from our role. While it is appreciable to go beyond the call of duty and travel that extra mile, it also depends on whether it is expected from our position. Transparency and constant open communication in whatever we do is the key to avoid misunderstandings. Recognition and rewards will surely follow if we meet and exceed our role expectations!

By Vandana Madhavkumar