As the world of software development has accelerated in recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of new roles and the modification of the responsibilities of existing roles. People have had to adapt to changing circumstances. But sometimes people become so distracted by such changes, they stop thinking about the full potential they can offer to their organization.
As a team leader, you might ask yourself: How can I motivate people to give their all, in every sense, and not be limited by a rigid and imposed job description?
The attempt to answer this question appeared when coming across an unusual situation with a development team. We were faced with the challenge of achieving synergy between two types of groups of specialists with different approaches but with the aim of creating the same product. One was a team focused on product design, and the other a technical one focused on building the solution.
The first obstacle was based on the needs of a project in which stereotypes, standards, and even work practices were a bit different than the ones we had perhaps been used to. So we decided to find a way to forget the guidelines of the current profiles and proposed to focus on the value and skills that each member could bring to the team, thinking about what we wanted to achieve together. We applied a management 3.0 technique, called “Work Profiles”, hoping to answer that question posed at the beginning of this article.
Why “Work Profiles”?
“Work Profiles” is a practice where each person briefly describes a set of services and skills they can provide within the context of an organization. It allows them to adopt job titles that add value and identity to their personal stamp.
It proposes a simple and creative dynamic, which changes the paradigm regarding the roles and responsibilities posed by organizations. People should not adapt to a particular role, but design a description of the profile that will suit them, focusing on their self-knowledge and understanding of their team or organization’s needs.
Steps we followed
- The first step was to create an online board (you can use tools like Miro), where we added the name and picture of each team member.
- Each member had 8 minutes to write a brief description of what they thought they could offer to the organization, without emphasizing technical aspects or their usual responsibilities. Instead, we invited them to use their imagination to go beyond their current role.
- Our proposal was to think about the skills that they considered relevant or in which they felt safe to share with others, and that they wanted the organization to know about.
- They had to use their imagination to name that new role or profile, unleashing creativity. The idea in mind was that it should be as far as possible from the role they currently had. In this step, something very interesting happened – someone proposed to name the new roles after invented superheroes.
- Based on what happened in the previous steps, and taking advantage of the initiatives, we proposed creating step 5. Here, everyone visualized the superhero and created it using an online tool called superhero star.
We learned that allowing a conversation regarding what people can offer to the organization and their colleagues, beyond what they are already doing, contributes not only to a greater sense of belonging, but also creates a better work environment and increased productivity.
As a team we learned that by freeing ourselves from the labels, hierarchies, and descriptions of our current profiles, we can go much further, focusing on the value we can provide in different contexts. This led to generating new conversations, through which we even came up with ideas for different ways of working, and seeing opportunities for collaboration between profiles.
“Work Profiles” can bring us a little closer to having a real picture of the capabilities and abilities that people in an organization or team possess. Encouraging each person to visualize what they look like by granting those skills to their peers generated a new level of commitment.
It’s possible that these dynamics may not create a quick connection between people – identity is a complex issue. It can be challenging to get people to move away from the models, descriptions, seniority, or technicalities imposed by organizations. In this case, we recommend looking for spaces that invite people to reflect and visualize themselves as collaborators, but in a playful way, prioritizing imagination, creativity, and free expression.