How to boost your career

There’s nothing more ­amazing than the endless incidents of mind-bending screw-ups by otherwise successful companies. Every employee has stories, ranging from miscalculations and costly errors of judgment to downright avoidable mistakes.

It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Years ago, “silos” were a serious issue causing poor communication, confusion, misunderstanding and counter-productive internal competition.

Now, we’ve moved to the silos of 2019, with employees donning headphones, sending emails rather than chatting with colleagues and working from home as much as they can.

To add to the discontent, performance reviews are called into question. They miss the mark and cause dissatisfaction on both sides of the table. Along with them, businesses are moving past job descriptions. If they are viewed as road maps, they don’t come close to matching up with reality.

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For a business to be competitive today and to flourish in the future, employees must take on new and different roles beyond their usual job-related activities. We can call them “meta roles,” that enhance individuals and affect a company’s future.

Instead of trying to get employees to do a better job, the objective of meta roles is to motivate them to enhance their value so they can help move themselves and their company forward. It’s to help people become keenly aware of what’s going on around them.

Meta roles are serious tools for influencing productive outcomes. They benefit companies and enhance careers. Here they are:

Meta Role #1. Diagnostician

The diagnostician plays a similar role as the medical internist, who is skilled in identifying problems and prescribing treatment. The task is not only figuring out what needs attention but coming up with workable solutions. Diagnosticians don’t robotically take care of customers. They want to know what’s deficient in the customer experience and what action can be taken to change it.

Meta Role #2. Dreamer

It’s in the best interest of companies to urge employees to dream and come up with new ideas and challenge old ones. Some will work and some won’t. It’s the excitement … of dreaming that makes a difference.

Meta Role #3. Dissenter

We call them rebels, outliers and obstructionists. They not only “rain on our parade,” they can be disruptive – and that’s not acceptable.

Even so, Wharton School’s Adam Grant, author of “Originals (the science of standing out),” contends in the Harvard Business Review that “conformity is dangerous because it means following other people not because you believe in their ideas or agree with them, but because you want to fit in instead of standing out.”

All of this is to suggest that while we may enjoy being around agreeable people, they may be the least effective in moving the organization forward.

Meta Role #4. Deliberator

How many mistakes in business are made by failing to analyze and understand the implications of decisions? The answer: a lot. More often than not, good ideas fail because of overlooked details, miscalculation and lack of knowledge. All of which can be avoided by vetting them through deliberation.

Meta Role #5. Doer

The first four meta roles are useless unless someone follows through and acts. This is the doer.

Making decisions has value only if there’s action.

Meta roles aren’t some abstract exercise that has little or no practical value. They’re functional. Their goal is to make a difference. And that’s why they should be guarded, protected, encouraged and rewarded.

John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. Contact him at