What if everyone in your company could customize their own role to focus on what they're best at, what they like doing, and where they can contribute the most value?

For entrepreneurs, it's kind of the dream. Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, has built an entire business around helping entrepreneurs spend more time utilizing their own Unique Ability (what you love and do best). 

Usually this concept is only taught to founders and executives, but imagine what your organization would look like if you extended it across all of your employees at all levels. Everyone could offload work they either don't enjoy or that is below their pay grade.

But as much as we'd all love to create perfect roles for everyone on our team, sometimes there's just too much to get done. Somebody has to do the work. So, what's the solution?

Dynamic role optimization

I've developed a new concept called Dynamic Role Optimization that looks to solve this problem. A "role" is ultimately the sum of various responsibilities and accountabilities, so the idea is to create a repository/marketplace for your team where they can "trade" responsibilities among themselves. This allows them to customize their role while still ensuring all mission-critical tasks are getting done.

Here's how it works on a basic level:

Step 1: Create a repository for your team where they can list everything they're responsible for.

Step 2: Allow them to indicate whether they want to continue doing individual tasks or if they'd like to offload them.

Step 3: Let your team view the entire repository and work with each other to offload tasks they don't like while taking on tasks they do like.

There does, of course, need to be some oversight within this system. Role changes should be approved by a manager, and capacities need to be well understood to ensure that no one is either offloading all of their work or taking on too much. And in my company, Leverage, we've added a few additional layers.

Work levels

Within this system, we consider the work level associated with each task. This explains the kind of qualifications or experience someone might need to accomplish it. Could an entry-level employee handle it, or does it need to be owned by someone at the managerial level?

Assigning a work level to each task (we use levels one through five) helps you find the right person for the job, but it also allows team members to climb the ladder by taking on responsibilities with higher work levels. 

A level-two team member may be capable of taking on a few level-three tasks. Over time, they can offload more of their level-two tasks in favor of level-three tasks, allowing them to effectively climb the ladder on their own accord (assuming their quality of work holds up). This is how we give promotions and salary increases--once a person is doing most of their work at the next level, they qualify for a promotion.

Hiring

As a growing company, we always have new projects that we need help with and we're always thinking about the next role we'd like to hire. Dynamic role optimization allows us to kill two birds with one stone here.

As we discover new responsibilities that need to be handled by someone on our team, we add them to the chart, listing potential team members who could handle them. Over time, it becomes apparent where we need to hire next. For example, if operational responsibilities pile up with no one to take them on, we know we need to hire a director of operations.

Not only that, but we can then use these unclaimed responsibilities within our job descriptions. Most job descriptions list some vague responsibilities, but with this system we can quite literally outline everything we're expecting a prospective hire to take on. That way, there are no surprises after onboarding. Plus, I know that hiring one specific person will cover the 19 gaps we have in our list of responsibilities.

Benefits

After implementing dynamic role optimization with my team, the benefits have been staggering in just the first two months. My team members are able to spend more time focusing on tasks they enjoy and that utilize their own Unique Ability, which translates to better quality of work and a more productive work environment overall.

There are also serious financial benefits to consider. Right off the bat, we found that many higher-level team members were spending their time on tasks they didn't enjoy and that were far below their pay grade. We were able to hand those tasks off to lower-level team members or outsource them, freeing up their time to focus on more valuable projects that will bring in more revenue for the business.

Perhaps most important, my team now feels a sense of ownership within their roles. They're no longer just following orders. They have the ability to say "I don't want to do that" and find something else they'd prefer doing instead. They can learn new skills, and there is a clear path to the top for them. The more low-level work they offload, the more higher-level work they can take on. 

The system rewards those who are willing and able to take on more responsibility--the exact type of people I want rising to the top of my company.