How to Deal With the Words "It’s Not My Job"


One of the most telling things I hear when working with employees in an organization is “that’s not my job”. It’s one of the sentences that drives managers completely nuts and screams “I don’t care about the business, I’m just here for the paycheck”.  Often though, as managers, we train people to think that way and then reward them for doing it.  Not on purpose of course, but certainly in the language we use from day one in our relationship with employees.  Even in the interview process we focus on the job description or job duties, the skills that they need for tasks and the performance measures.  What if we focused on a different conversation as we talked to both prospective employees and current ones?  Here’s some of the conversations that need to happen if we want our people to think about their job differently.

If you want to work here, or currently do, understand that your value is determined by whether you make us better as an organization.   This means that you have to cause change where we need it, challenge the status quo if we can improve it and be part of how solutions happen here.  It means you don’t complain, you solve, you don’t drag others down you push them upward and you leave at the end of the day feeling like you made a difference, not just did a job.

Your attitude and influence are your greatest skills

People around you will be influenced by you and making sure that influence is a positive one is part of what it means to work here.  The attitude you bring to your work is much of what makes you successful here.  We can teach you how to do the tasks your job requires, but it is harder for us to make you a positive, engaging, motivated individual.  And while we strive to have leaders and teammates who will help you do that each and every day, ultimately, that’s your choice and we expect you to make a good one as part of this team.

Results matter, how you get there matters too

Yes you have to learn the tasks associated with your job and execute them well.  That’s an entry level requirement to be part of our business.  We will help you get there and we expect you to work with us to make that happen quickly.  Equally important is that you approach your work in a way that raises the bar for us.  We want you to be competitive about the quality and effectiveness you bring to your work.  We want you to communicate in ways that make all of us think differently about how to improve our work habits and constantly help us evaluate new ways to achieve success.

Your job as an employer is to provide leaders that help people reach their potential, an environment in which people can develop and a business that is financially sound and growth oriented.  Their job is to be part of why the business is successful, not to make calls, clean things, or process orders.  Those are tasks associated with business operation but those alone will never cause success.  In fact, those alone will guarantee mediocrity.  Change the conversation with your people and you will change the choices they make as part of your team.

Leading Through Influence

We develop better leaders so they can build a better future. Contact Us to learn about leader development via our training, workshops and executive coaching.