Why these 4 non-job roles are so important

non-job roles
Tim Baker


written on March 15, 2017

Imagine a workplace where everyone has a negative attitude, no-one is a team player, no-one is interested in enhancing their capabilities and no-one is interested in looking for ways to make the workplace more efficient and effective. Yet everyone in this workplace has a high technical capacity. Do you think this is likely to be a high performing workplace? No, and it’s why non-job roles are so crucial.

There are four non-job roles that are becoming increasingly important for performance in any workplace, and they are part of why we need to do away with the standard job description. Let’s look at each and the reasons why they are crucial for performance.

1. Positive Mental Attitude and Enthusiasm Role

With the considerable pressures on organisations to constantly and rapidly ‘chop and change’, being positive is necessary for building and maintaining high morale.

Employees are now expected to ‘do more with less’ and this adds another layer of pressure. Further elevating stress levels is, heightened competition, the increasing obsession in “i” dotting and “t” crossing, and the imposition of accountability and transparency regimes. Upholding a positive attitude and showing enthusiasm can be an antidote to these modern-day pressures and stress; the need for cultivating a harmonious working environment is more important than ever.

2. Team role

With the erosion of hierarchy and the corresponding flattening of organisational structures, teams are now the dominant organising work structure. So being a ‘team player’ is naturally a sought-after competency. Employees are being called upon to participate in short and long-term project teams often with people they have never met, let alone worked with before. These cross-functional project teams are set up to deal with specific problems or issues, utilising employees with a wide range of expertise and diverse perspectives. So working harmoniously and constructively in such a team is a core non-job competency.

But being a team player is not as simple as it sounds; it is a complex combination of skills, knowledge and attitudes. For instance, you need to have the capacity to influence and be open to being influenced by your fellow team members; be able to juggle the dual accountabilities of individual and team outputs; be adept at working cooperatively and harmoniously with others under duress; and be willing to interact and exchange information with a variety of stakeholders. Despite its complicatedness, the ability to work in team environments benefits organisations, managers and employees.

3. Career Development Role

Unlike the previous two, which I call interpersonal non-job roles, this is a personal non-job role and is about the employee continually growing and developing technically and personally. As with the other non-job roles, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect an employee to be a lifelong learner in their career; though we’ve all met people who have stopped learning and developing in their career by their own choosing. When challenged, these stagnant employees often give a lame excuse like: “I am too old to learn anything new” or when invited to expand their career skills-set, they retort with: “I’m just happy doing what I have always done”. Having the desire to continually improve, upgrade, and expand their skill-base and develop personally benefits not only the employee, but their current and future employer.

4. Innovator and Continuous Improvement Role

The final of the four non-job roles in the framework and the second of the personal non-job roles is the innovation and continuous improvement role. While the career development role is directed at improving the individual, the innovation and continuous improvement role is concerned with improving the organisation.

This role is basically about offering constructive suggestions and changes in how the business functions, and covers a wide range of factors in the workplace. For instance, it may include improving the quality of products or service, reducing time and costs, increasing output and safety, meeting deadlines or enhancing interpersonal cooperation. Like employees, to survive and thrive in a climate of accelerated change and uncertainty organisations need to be in a constant state of growth and development.


The employee performs five roles at work. One role is their job role, which covers the technical requirements of one’s job and four non-job roles. The current focus, however, is very much on the job role and it needs to shift to cover the non-job roles more comprehensively. By doing so, we are broadening the scope of organisational performance.

This article was drawn from Dr Tim Baker’s book The End of the Job Description: Shifting from a Job-Focus to a Performance-Focus.


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2 thoughts on “Why these 4 non-job roles are so important

  1. Great article and so true – there are organizations you describe in your first paragraph but they are disappearing because of the lack of these 4 simple capabilities

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