Whose job is it anyway?

SPASA Australia

By Spiros Dassakis, Chief Operating Officer, SPASA Australia
Wednesday, 14 June, 2017


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We’ve all heard the story about a job that needed doing and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody became frustrated, because it was Everybody’s job to do it. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it. So it ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could or should have done. It’s a story that plays out every day in almost every organisation, big and small.

A good leader should always be able to plan for and structure the tasks they expect employees to perform. Any new tasks should be delegated to the most suitable employee as and when they arise.

Sometimes in a project ‘team’ environment, employees find themselves working alongside their colleagues in a flat structure — ie, no hierarchy. In such environments, there may have been times when you may have heard an employee declare, “That’s not my job.”

It could be argued that this type of attitude is consistent with someone who just does the minimum and is not a team player. This may be overgeneralising but that’s how it may look to your colleagues and managers.

Whilst I understand that everyone has a job to do for which they are responsible and accountable, there are times when we all have to do a little more to support others, even if it’s not specifically part of our job description. That’s what being part of a team is all about.

The ‘that’s not my job’ mentality is a potential symptom of a deeper problem that can affect a whole team if not fixed quickly. So how can a manager proactively address this mentality?

  • Ensure everyone understands this is a team effort.
  • Make sure everyone is clear on the final result.
  • Allow and guide employees to make choices that support the project’s objective.
  • As the team leader, make sure that you jump in and help others when you can.
  • Make it someone’s job if a specific task is not assigned.
  • Don’t support the blame game.

Good employees understand that their leaders take particular notice when they embrace challenge by taking on new responsibilities, take advantage of chances to improve their skills, volunteer for specific tasks and understand that they are truly mutually benefiting from their employee-employer relationship. That’s the kind of employee that companies want to keep and groom for bigger things!

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Ivelin Radkov

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