Getting Around those Four Nasty Words: “That’s Not My Job”

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Girl doing manicure while workingManagers and co-workers cringe when they hear the words, “That’s not my job”. It’s like hearing a bratty 3-year old say, “I don’t wanna”. There is going to come a time when a worker will be asked to do work outside of their normal set of tasks. That’s just how business goes. Whether someone on the team is fired, has quit, they’re on vacation or sick, there will be, on more than one occasion, the need for workers to expand their duties.

It’s one thing for a manager to constantly pile work on an employee outside of their area of expertise, but it is quite another to ask an employee to pitch in and be a team player. As part of an organization, there are deadlines and goals to be met, it should be understood those goals and deadlines are everyone’s responsibility.

Hire Right

Everyone will cite, “Works well with others” as one of their strengths in an interview, but do they work well for others? When sourcing and hiring candidates, companies should look for candidates who are eager to push the company forward, as an individual and as a team member. Candidates who see the big picture, realize that the end result is what matters, not how you get there.

Make Your Expectations Clear

Being clear up front about what you expect from each member can make a world of difference. That doesn’t mean a down to the minute, detailed job description, it means letting each employee know that their job isn’t their job title, it’s their role in the company. When it’s clearly stated up front to everyone that going above and beyond is an expectation, it makes “That’s not my job” a non-issue.

Compensate Accordingly

No one expects companies to dole out bonuses every time someone steps outside of their role, but compensation should always match the work. For instance, companies that have gone through a reduction in force often have to spread out the extra work amongst the survivors. When a lot of extra time and effort is expected from employees, they should be compensated accordingly. Furthermore, employers shouldn’t wait to hear, “That’s not my job” before they offer adequate compensation; that’s a great way to frustrate and under value employees.

Ask Nicely and Frame it Right

“I’m gonna need you to stay late and pick up where Bob left off.” That is exactly the wrong way to ask (tell) an employee that you need some extra work out of them. Asking workers to expand their duties is a balancing act. If managers frame the request as a favor, that leaves it up for debate, which it’s not. If manager frame the request as a demand, that can piss some people off. Asking politely, clearly defining the task and giving a deadline, presents the request in a far more appealing manner, while making it clear that this is now their responsibility.

Show Appreciation

Last but certainly not least, show appreciation for extra work. One of the number one reasons cited for job dissatisfaction is lack of acknowledgement or appreciation. A thankless job sucks, but a thankless job that isn’t even your job really sucks. Although it should be understood that end goals are everyone’s job to reach, showing appreciation is a simple way to reinforce the behavior that gets the organization to that end goal. Work that is appreciated is work that will continue.

Read more in Organizational Culture

Courtney McGann is the content creator and PR gal for Red Branch Media, an Omaha-based marketing firm. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B marketing agency, primarily focused on human resources and global workforce vendors. In the past Courtney has managed online communities, professional social outlets, marketing campaigns and event planning.