“That’s not my job” Where did that phrase even come from? Now, I may be a “man of a certain age,” but when a company is building a customer-centric workforce, the words “That’s not my job” should NEVER cross a team member’s lips.

Is this a by-product of downsizing? Corporate America has lost its sense of loyalty to its employees, forcing a loss of loyalty and pride of job from its employees.  Workers are carried along on the wave of “each man for himself”, afraid to extend a hand for fear of having it bitten. Whatever happened to the “One for all, and all for one!” mentality of yester-year?

thats not my job service industry management

In catching up with a previous coworker about her new supervisory position at a retail store, she was filling me in on the ups and downs of finding herself in a position with a lot of workers who were set in their ways and were very resistant to change.  My optimistic friend came in with great ideas to streamline procedures and raise productivity by having workers help in all areas, which was met with an all-too familiar passive-aggressive resistance.

“That’s not my job.”

Case in point: one busy day a call came out over the walkie-talkie asking for help checking out customers. My friend, (the manager) was standing with a group of her employees, who were stocking shelves.  NO ONE RESPONDED.  The call came out a second time, with the requester sounding a bit frazzled.  Still no one answered.  When my friend asked why no one was helping she was told flat out, “That’s not my job.”

To put it mildly, she was flabbergasted.  What has happened to the modern workforce to get them into this mindset?  We tend to put on blinders and stay focused solely on the task at hand, ignoring all others, whether we are able to help or not.  Stocking shelves, sweeping the floor, doing paperwork…we all become so single-minded as to almost forget there are other people around us.

Hogwash, I say.

I understand that good deeds are sometimes punished.  Many times karma doesn’t work in our favor.  But what’s the harm in working to help better the company that YOU work for?

Here is a quick list of actions leadership-minded individuals can take to mitigate the “It’s Not My Job” resistance:

  1. Make yourself valuable.  Be a sponge and learn all you can so you can be versatile when situations demand it.
  2. Spread the word about your company, driving in sales to help create a little job security. While it may not be in the job description, management and leadership will notice it.
  3. Think outside the box and SHARE your ideas.  They won’t do anyone any good inside your head.
  4. Take pride in your job, your company, your coworkers.  When you care about what you’re doing, it shows.  Clients and customers will see the value of the service or product you provide when you show them it’s valuable to YOU.

In every business, there are tasks that need to be accomplished and there is never enough time in each day to check everything off the to-do list. Our workforce has become so me-driven we forget to work together.  I could make a million analogies about the benefits of “teamwork,” e.g. – what if your brain didn’t assist your lungs with breathing or your carburetor refused to work with the pistons (I never said they were GOOD analogies…) to make my point:  Each company is one organism with many different parts that rely on each other.  When immediate tasks involving YOUR clients or YOUR customers need additional help, EVERYTHING becomes your job.

As a brand leader, how do YOU encourage teamwork?

Food for thought.