How to create a new role at work (and avoid common mistakes)

June 16, 2021 - 20 min read

Creating a new role at your company holds infinite possibilities. Learn the pros of creating a new position and how to avoid common mistakes when doing so.

A team congratulates a new employee

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What does it mean to create a new role?

What does it mean to create a new role?

What to consider before creating a new role

How to announce the creation of a new role

4 things you should avoid when creating a new role

A promotion is a coveted milestone in any career. But an open position for a well-deserving employee may not exist.  

Why not make one? Here are the best practices for creating a new role at work — and how to avoid the 4 most common mistakes.

What does it mean to create a new role?

People want to be given the chance to succeed and grow. If your company is doing its job right, your team will be learning and challenging themselves. Employees grow into leaders by taking on more responsibility. 

Sometimes, people will do this by leaving the organization. If they believe that they’ve hit their peak at the company, they may look for an environment that’s a better value fit or provides more upward potential.

Instead of waiting for a promotion to come around for an employee, you may be able to retain more of your best talent by transitioning an employee to a new role. Creating a new position gives the opportunity to bring nuance to a position and strengthen a department. It rewards the investment of time people have made in your company and team. This sets your organization — and your newly promoted employee — on track for long-term growth and industry success.

But if you’re the employee thinking about leaving, you may want to consider partnering with your leaders to create a new role at work. You may like your company, but feel unsatisfied with your current position. Changing roles within a company allows you to build on what you’ve already accomplished. As someone who is familiar with the company, you can leverage your experience to address pitfalls a newcomer likely won’t see. You also get to maintain your seniority and any benefits you’ve accumulated as a result.

For companies that are in rapid growth phases, creating a new position may be ideal. In the early stages, small businesses and startups often work on a skeleton crew. It’s not uncommon to have “one person departments” or departments made up of people who were just “pitching in.” Creating new positions as you grow — or moving an employee to another department — reduces the chance of burnout. This increases employee retention of your most talented, loyal employees.

What does it mean to create a new role?

People want to be given the chance to succeed and grow. If your company is doing its job right, your team will be learning and challenging themselves. Employees grow into leaders by taking on more responsibility. 

Sometimes, people will do this by leaving the organization. If they believe that they’ve hit their peak at the company, they may look for an environment that’s a better value fit or provides more upward potential.

Instead of waiting for a promotion to come around for an employee, you may be able to retain more of your best talent by transitioning an employee to a new role. Creating a new position gives the opportunity to bring nuance to a position and strengthen a department. It rewards the investment of time people have made in your company and team. This sets your organization — and your newly promoted employee — on track for long-term growth and industry success.

But if you’re the employee thinking about leaving, you may want to consider partnering with your leaders to create a new role at work. You may like your company, but feel unsatisfied with your current position. Changing roles within a company allows you to build on what you’ve already accomplished. As someone who is familiar with the company, you can leverage your experience to address pitfalls a newcomer likely won’t see. You also get to maintain your seniority and any benefits you’ve accumulated as a result.

For companies that are in rapid growth phases, creating a new position may be ideal. In the early stages, small businesses and startups often work on a skeleton crew. It’s not uncommon to have “one person departments” or departments made up of people who were just “pitching in.” Creating new positions as you grow — or moving an employee to another department — reduces the chance of burnout. This increases employee retention of your most talented, loyal employees.

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What to consider before creating a new role

Creating a new position at work isn’t something to take lightly. A new job is a commitment on both the part of the employee and the company. 

In addition to the cost of salary and benefits, there are logistical considerations. A major one is the longevity of the new role. Once you shift responsibilities from one job description to another, it may disrupt the operations of your team to try to shift them back.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind before creating a proposal for a new position:

Reasons that justify a new role

1. Consistent overload

Is your team constantly overworked? Are most people wearing multiple hats? Is overtime an expectation rather than an exception? If all this is true, your team is on the fast track to burnout. Creating a new position can help manage long term growth and improve employee morale.

2. Saving money on freelancers

Are you spending lots of money on contractors? While hiring freelancers or an external agency can be a smart way to streamline your workload, they can be a mixed bag. You may deal with privacy concerns, a lack or industry expertise, or struggle to communicate certain nuances. Managing your contractors can become a full-time job in itself. Replacing them with an employee could be the most efficient and inexpensive option.

3. Keeping the business competitive

Want to know where an organization is going? Look at who they’re hiring. If your competitors are creating new roles or even entirely new departments, beefing up your staff can keep you relevant in the industry. This is especially true as organizations change their hiring practices to reflect new priorities. This might include diversity leadership roles or managers with experience leading remote teams.

4. Providing room for growth

People enjoy feeling that the work they do is rewarding and helping them grow. If your team members are doing things that underutilize their skill sets, it may make sense to hire others to fill that role. This frees seasoned leaders to engage in projects that use their skills more effectively. It improves revenue as less complex tasks are delegated to less costly labor.

Reasons that do not justify creating a new role

1. Temporary increase in workload

Is your company moving into a busy season, taking on a major project, or short-staffed due to multiple leaves of absence? Hold off before creating a new position to cover the demand. While you may be feeling the crunch, short-term challenges don’t necessarily justify long-term solutions. Even if you need additional help, onboarding freelancers, interns, or even a part-time employee might be a better option. 

2. An offer you can’t refuse

If you’re being offered more money for your desired role at another company, that may not be enough incentive to get a new position created for you. If you are considering leaving and want to use the offer for leverage, outline the value that a new position would create for the company. Be sure that you’re willing to move on before you use that as an ultimatum.

3. To keep an unhappy employee

Rewarding hard work and loyalty with upward mobility is a strong retention strategy. However, the move should be mutually beneficial. Talk to the employee first to see if a new opportunity or job description would alleviate their distress. The company may not be a value match. Sometimes they want something that isn't possible or they’re just ready to move on. If that's the case, there’s no sense in creating a new role.

How to announce the creation of a new role

Before you create — or announce — a new role, it’s necessary to sit down with everyone who will be a part of the process. Create a business plan or proposal for the new position. Ask the following questions:

  • What skills and core competencies do they need to have?
  • Who will they work most closely with?
  • How does this role contribute to the overall business strategy?
  • What are they responsible for?
  • How does this differ from similar roles in this organization?
  • What metrics will they use to measure success?

From there, you can begin to establish the specifics of the position. These include job title, part-time or full-time, direct manager, and an estimated salary range. If you can, determine the amount of revenue this new position can generate.

Internal communication:

Once you’ve decided to create a new position, make it public knowledge in the company. How you communicate will depend on the role and whether someone is already in mind to fill it. This may involve recruiting internally, sourcing candidates, or sending out a memo. Don’t forget to loop the teams (and managers) most directly affected into the conversation. 

It may be helpful to have a smaller meeting in advance of the announcement. The department welcoming the new person or position is likely to field the most questions about it. They’ll also have the most insight into how to support employees for a successful transition.

Onboarding of the person in the new role

Take enough time for training. Whether you hire externally or you’re helping a current employee transition from one job to another, don’t shortcut the process. It may help to create an employee transition plan that covers the expectations and skills needed for success in the new role. 

If the person is a new hire or someone else has been handling these tasks, outline a timeframe to have responsibility handed over to the new hire.

Checking up on the new role

Once the new hire has settled into their position, don’t abandon them! Check in with them throughout the onboarding process, starting with the first day. 

An ideal timeframe might include check-ins at two weeks, six weeks, and three months, with on-going support from a trainer. Set clear deliverables with the new hire so they know how to measure their own benchmarks and what your expectations are.

skills-high-performing-teams

4 things you should avoid when creating a new role

Ultimately, the goal of any new role is to increase the organization’s efficiency and revenue. 

It makes sense to take care when designing a new role — or moving an employee from their current role to another. Done well, this can create lasting benefits for both the individual and the team.

Here are 4 common mistakes to avoid when creating a new role:

1. Short-term thinking

How will this role benefit your organization in six months? A year? Five years? Outline a potential career path and long term goals for this position. When considering candidates, take those ideals into account. 

If you imagine the role quickly growing into a full-time position, don't hire somebody who only wants to work part-time. 

2. Blowing the budget

Be sensible about how you budget funds for this new role. Avoid being too optimistic about market growth or potential revenue. 

Hiring someone whose position is only justified by an idealistic income goal will put pressure on everyone. The new hire and the team will feel the pinch on the budget.

3. One-sided decision making

Even if they won’t have the final say in staffing, don't create a new role without talking to everyone involved who will be working with that person. Their input will be invaluable. If you can, get them involved in the interview process. They'll have a better understanding of the skill sets required to be successful in the role and how the new position will improve the company.

4. Putting your new hire in the crossfire

If your company is having internal issues, it might be wise to hold off on hiring anyone new. Don't create a new position to teach your employees “a thing or two.” Even a new supervisor, manager, or executive will rely on the team to get them acclimated to the new role. Introducing them as the tough new “boss” will just set your new hire up to be ostracized, making it harder for them to integrate into the new team.

Creating a new role for yourself or others at your company can be an exciting path forward — or it can be a frustrating waste of time and money. Take care to carefully outline the expectations of the new position. Talking to everyone involved will go a long way towards ensuring a smooth transition.



Published June 16, 2021

Allaya Cooks-Campbell

BetterUp Staff Writer

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