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Can my boss change my role at any time?
Lipi Agrawal | HRKatha | New Delhi | Tuesday, 24 October 2017

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With businesses increasingly seeking employees open to change and multitasking, alterations in job roles should not rattle anyone.

There are times when people feel dissatisfied with their jobs owing to a disconnect between their expectations from the job role and its realities, or a mismatch between what was conveyed to them at the time of joining and what their role currently looks like. While changes in the job role/duties are not a new occurrence, they are not always taken positively.

Sandeep Gandhi, CHRO, Aircel

In cases where a change in job role or duties is a deliberate attempt, without a judicious reason, it may be a serious matter for concern. 

There is no clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this as a lot has changed in the world of work in the last few decades. Earlier, whatever was mentioned about one’s job duties in the offer letter used to be sacrosanct, but the entire work environment nowadays is much more dynamic with change being the norm. Deviations from the role as described in the offer letter are now common and are mostly subject to changes in the business environment.

In cases where a change in job role or duties is a deliberate attempt, without a judicious reason, it may be a serious matter for concern. However, if it is communicated well and done in agreement with the employees, after due discussions on the same, it may well be justified.

Changes which may have once been considered ideally avoidable, will certainly occur in the current VUCA world. For instance, a few years or a decade ago, the telecom industry offered voice services nearly free, while there were huge charges for data usage. On the other hand, considering the changes in the operating environment and managing customer usage and expectations, while data is now nearly free, voice services have become more expensive. Such business changes certainly demand a workforce to adapt, and role changes in such situations are also unavoidable.

Only if it is with a mala fide intention, it is not right. It’s important that the employee is notified and briefed well about the role change or location change, whatsoever.

Murthy MVS, chief people officer, nuFuture Digital, Future Group

Making changes in someone’s job role overnight, without a valid context, is absolutely unacceptable on the part of a manager.

When an organisation makes an offer to someone, it is mostly stated upfront that the employee is expected to be open to any role changes depending on a change in the operating environment. Although this is legally justified, it may certainly have some associated motivational or emotional impact.

Given the current context, such situations may seem normal. However, it is important that the manager or the boss should have a dialogue with the employee, in case a change is in sight. In that case, even if someone is discontented with the role, there is an open discussion on the same, and things are fine.

On the other hand, making changes in someone’s job role overnight, without a valid context, is absolutely unacceptable on the part of a manager. We do not live in anarchy anymore. Each one of us expects a democratic and congenial environment, both at home and in the society we live in. Hence, even at work, all employees have the right to know and discuss their role changes, if any.

Hemangini Jayant, vice president-HR, Dr. Oetker India

Being adaptable and flexible is extremely critical for any profession and at any level now.

From a legal point of view, an organisation or a manager can, at any point of time, decide to change the job duties of an employee. In fact, most job contracts have a clause that clearly states that the job role can be modified as per business need and is at the manager’s discretion.

However, from an ethical point of view, it makes sense only when the employer discusses the change with the employee in advance and gets a buy-in from all entities involved. A change in job role could be a great way to gain more exposure, but it is an opportunity only if the employee believes it is one.

Role changes may also fall in as a result of excellent performance or a lack in performance. When employees display exceeding performance in a certain role, the promotion that follows may bring about changes in their duties. Similarly, in case of performance lag, managers might decide to offer certain role changes to employees, trying to retain or allow them a chance to prove themselves.

All said and done, being adaptable and flexible is extremely critical for any profession and at any level now. Businesses of the day seek people who are open to changes and can multitask. Hence, a role change should not come as a shock to anyone. Such variations, and adaptability to the same, are the key to survival in the current times.

© 2016 HR Katha

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