Saturday, July 25, 2020

Future of work: High impact individual contributor roles

Every person after working an individual contributor expects that he should have a team to manage. Heading and managing a team is a dream of every professional. long back most of the organizations had created heavy hierarchical structures to accommodate that desire of employees. Organizations had big structures, chain of commands and different titles & designations. After spending a few years in particular titles (not roles), organizations used to promote employees to the next level. Jr, Sr and Dy was always prefixed to the title to satisfy the egos of employees. General Managers were managers without having any general management exposure. This structure created invisible ranks in the mind of employees. People used to get elevated to higher titles without much changing their roles. However, this structure created a lot of bureaucracy within the organizations. Big organizations had become like elephants. It created the hierarchical culture with slow decision making. In such structures Power flows vertically and upward, and employees are departmentalized. Multiple layers within the organizations create a lot of business & socio-political issues.

Today a lot of organizations are going away from the formal structures. It is very important to decide the span of control and layers within the organizations to increase the efficiency and effectiveness.   

Modern organizations are flat with few levels. Few organizations work in matrix structures and few in web structures. Few organizations are going towards project-based organizations and using different methodologies like agile, scrum, etc. Such organizations only need good talent and not the ego associated with titles.  That’s why some organizations are going away from Titles. Employees are instructed to write their name and department on the visiting cards. Everybody within the organization is treated important and they are empowered so that they fulfill their responsibilities. Such culture requires a high level of trust and employees need to be competent to work in such an environment. People are sensitized towards common purpose.

Working in such organizations demands different skill sets. There are very few people managers and team managers roles. Even people managers are expected to spend more time on development dialogues and not just supervising employee and micromanaging team members.   
This has resulted in creating a lot of individual contributor roles as per the expertise and competence. There are a lot of Individual contributor roles which have the major impact on the business. Employees in such roles are expected to network and influence and get the job done.  Such roles are also highly paid. With organizations transforming into more agile organizations, it is important that there are few layers and more connections without any barriers.

I have seen a lot of individual contributor roles which are strategic and very impactful. Those roles are HRBP, Marketing Manager, Programmer, Developer, Communication Expert, Business Controller, Talent Manager, People Development Manager, Business Manager, Product Manager, Application Manager, Data Scientist and even Sales Manager, Treasury Manager, Risk Manager, Auditor and so on.

Employees are expected to demonstrate all behaviours like a leader; such as developing strategy, making tactical plans, presenting and communicating ideas, setting priorities for the function or the market, coaching others, leading without the title, managing cross functional groups, influencing others and so on.  

Hence whenever you get the opportunity with a good role & high salary, don’t look at the reportee numbers. Just look what value that role adds in the organization. Further these roles need high level behavioural skills as they work with different people with complex environments with a lot of ambiguity. In fact, you learn solid leadership skills and acumen in individual contributor roles. It is easy to get the job done when somebody is in your hierarchy but very difficult when nobody is reporting you and still you are held responsible for the results.   

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organization)

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