In a team, people will quickly see themselves as becoming scapegoats or perceive others as the scapegoats. It is a role people easily understand as one that is given to others.
Looking a bit further one may detect how the person who has been chosen as a scapegoat contributes to being one. While it doesn’t seem to be chosen, the person herself may notice that it is a role they regularly find themselves in.
Thinking about theater or film or even role-play, it can be hard to imagine that within a community people find themselves associated with a role. Or that it is a role others connect their expectations with. But, when we think about the scapegoat example it becomes more visible.
Another way to look at it is by thinking about archetype roles people use to describe behavior like for example “problem solver”, “mother hen”, or “functional expert.” Many of these roles will be the ones people easily move towards. They have regularly used them in their career or life and find themselves at ease with. One could describe them as the style people apply in dealing with their job. However, it is more than that. A role someone takes up contributes to shaping their actions and decision-making.
The other side of a role people take up are the needs an organization has. That is, for example, how an organization describes how they expect people to take up a new position, how they imagine that this position is best handled, and what the organization truly needs in the given situation.
Thinking about roles is especially relevant when someone takes up a new position. It’s a change that comes along with having to deal with different tasks, as well as the need to let go of the previous role and step into the new role.
In most cases, people will focus on the new tasks. Maybe because it’s a process they know and have gone through multiple times. Letting go of the previous job will require some emotional work. However, if someone focuses on the excitement linked to the new position he may not pay a lot of attention to that part of the transition. What people are least aware of, is the adjustment they need to bring to their role.
A simple question may help: what are the valuable roles you can bring to that new position?
And when change is happening a follow-up question is: What impact will that change have on your roles?
Finding answers to these questions will already transform how people will address the tasks linked to their new position.