Eliminating “It’s Not My Job Attitudes” at Your Workplace

Employer BrandingentrepreneurshipmanagementPersonal Branding

The more client work I do the more creative I have to get.

I find my clients’ continue to offer me unique opportunities to stretch my comfort zone as I try to stretch theirs’. It’s become a wonderful symbiotic relationship.

Last week I was confronted with a situation where a client was challenged with a number of employees, who questioned whether requests made of them by co-workers, and superiors, fell within their job descriptions.

Instead of pulling out the job descriptions and analyzing if the claims were appropriate (which is a losing proposition and does nothing to improve employee motivation and morale even if job descriptions include the catchall phrase of “all other duties as assigned”), I decided to take an alternative approach.

I realized that if an attitude like this exists in an organization, whether it be one person or multiple, it is an organizational culture issue, not an individual employee issue.  It must be addressed in that vein.

At my suggestion my client agreed to make this part of our regular cultural development program. Here is what we did.

I facilitated a discussion around the difference between an employees’ “job” and an employees’ “role.”

It was a very interesting discussion.

First I asked each employee to define each, their “job,” and their “role,” separately.

We then went around the room with each person sharing their answers.  Each person’s take on it was both interesting and unique. Yet, no one gave an answer that was going to transform the work environment.

Here’s the simple answer and why it is important:

In every organization everyone’s “job” is the same. Whether you are the CEO responsible for the entire organization’s performance or the receptionist at the front desk answering the phone and greeting customers, the “job” is the same.

That “job” is the company’s ultimate outcome or purpose.

To explain what I mean I use the metaphor of a professional sports team.

In sports, the ultimate outcome or purpose is to win the championship. So, everyone’s “job” is to contribute to the team’s effort to win the championship.

Yet, everyone on the team has a different “role” to fill in making that happen and herein is the nuance in eliminating an “it’s not my job” attitude.

If everyone on the team’s “job” is to contribute to winning the championship, then anything they are asked to do is their job, regardless of how their unique “role” is defined.

That’s why you get athlete’s playing out of position, when asked by their coach.

The coach is only going to ask that athlete to play out of position if they feel they can contribute to winning. If it were not going to benefit the team and contribute to the “job” of winning the championship, they wouldn’t be asked to do it.

The same holds true in business.

When everyone in the company understands the ultimate outcome or purpose, everyone’s “job” is to contribute to it by applying their unique talent and skill in their “role.”

And, when the time comes they may be asked to contribute to that ultimate outcome or purpose in ways that others believe may be helpful based on their skills and talents that may be technically outside their role as described, but it is their “job” to do it.

Thus eliminating the “it’s not my job” attitude.

And, for those “devil’s advocates,” the “job” always supersedes the “role.”

If you’d like help in making this transition, which also raises the bar in commitment and motivation all around, sign up below for a free strategy session.


Skip Weisman, The Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert, works with small business owners to help them lead their employees from drama & defensiveness to ownership & initiative. During a 20-year career in professional baseball management, Skip served as CEO for five different franchises. That experience gave Skip tremendous insight and skill for build high-performing teams in the workplace. Skip’s new small business coaching program, based on leadership during the American Revolution, is called Revolutionary Leadership. 

For a limited time Skip is offering complimentary Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions, which are private, 1:1 consultations with small business owners and chief executives. To learn more and request your strategy session visit www.LeadershipCommunicationExpert.com/freestrategysession .