The need for floaters

At work, everyone has a specific role. They’re an HR manager, a billing administrator, a project manager, a VP of engineering, a secretary. Whatever they are, they are something. Something specific that can be succinctly described in two or three words on a business card.

When they leave, we recruit a replacement against a predefined job description. We ascertain candidates’ strengths against that job description, and we go ahead and recruit.

Yes, people stray outside of their job description. But they generally only do so within the confines of their field, their department. And many organisations stifle such straying, either through culture or guidance.

But what if there were fewer people with such predefined roles. What if there were more floaters in companies. People with ill-defined roles who were there to plug gaps; to figure out what can be improved; to challenge the modus operandi. I don’t mean temporary people. I mean permanent employees. Would that yield benefit? Maybe they could be nominated for the position, take it on for a temporary period, a year, say.

Would the salaries awarded to a few people whose sole job was to challenge be outweighed by the benefits their actions brought about? How would they be managed? And how might they report?

Without those people, businesses will continue to do what they did yesterday, even if what they did yesterday isn’t optimal.

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