One of the things I appreciate about my current copywriting job at a digital agency is that it’s allowed me to specialize in what I’m best at. I’ve always been a Jack of all Trades, which was fine, except I knew I could achieve mastery if I could just focus my attention on one or two.
Still, a big part of what I bring to any company isn’t about technical skills, or creative skills. It’s a relational role that’s a function of my temperament. I often find myself being the de facto “guidance counselor” to my co-workers. The oldest of three girls, even in the workplace I end up being the “big sister” my “siblings” come to for problems they need to talk about, but don’t want to take to Mom or Dad.
Maybe it’s also an INFP thing; they tend to be drawn to literal, professional careers as counselors and social workers. People just feel naturally comfortable talking about their problems and concerns with me. Even total strangers, which is occasionally a little weird.
I think most businesses, even small businesses, need a “guidance counselor” of some sort. I don’t know that they need it as a separate role. But they need a person who others feel comfortable using as a sounding board. Oddly, it’s rarely been an HR person in companies where they’ve had dedicated HR staff.
If they’ve got a serious, actionable problem at work, yeah, they’ll go to HR. But for the day to day aggravations that they just need to blow off a little steam about, or things they think they could work through on their own, if they could just talk through it? I suspect people worry that those kinds of complaints will get them labeled a whiner and count against their career mobility if they take it to Human Resources.
It makes me wonder sometimes what the unspoken, relational roles that other people fill in their workplaces. I know a guy who makes an amazing “bad cop.” I do not have that skill. At all. And I’m sure he has other great abilities, but I can’t imagine that anybody hires him without thinking “When we need someone to drop the hammer of bad news, this is the guy. Awesome.”
Workplace dynamics are a lot like family dynamics. You need people filling the key relational roles as much, if not more, than you need people filling the functional roles. You don’t make it part of any job description, but I’m betting it’s something hiring managers are sorting for, even unconsciously.
What about you? What relational role always ends up filling in the workplace? Does it match or contrast the role or script you fill in your personal and family relationships?