4 Words You Never Want to Hear From Your Employee

“That’s not my job”. No employer wants to hear those four little words from an employee. It’s unhelpful, unproductive and combative. But, unfortunately, this attitude is prevalent in today’s workplace.  Which is why, as a business owner, especially if you are a small business or a startup, you need to hire employees that are willing to pitch in where needed.

Many companies are running on a tight budget, so adding members to the team is not a viable option.  A lot of companies, like yours, operate with an “all hands on deck” approach.  All of us, employers and employees alike, have the obligation to pitch in wherever and whenever it’s needed. Teamwork and everyone pitching in is crucial to a company’s success and at times survival.

Some employees rely too heavily on their job descriptions. More often than not, what you ask your employees to do on a daily basis is not listed in the first 5-10 bullets, if at all, in their job description. Job descriptions are not set in stone, instead, they are guidelines of what to expect in the job.  So unless what you’ve asked someone to do is dangerous or unreasonable, you can’t afford to accept this excuse from an employee.

It’s important that you, as the employer, set the expectations in the beginning. Make sure your job description templates include the line “and other duties as assigned”, and make it abundantly clear to prospective employees that they may, from time to time, be asked to do projects that fall outside the scope of their job description, especially if it is for the benefit of the team or the company. It needs to be understood that as the company grows and evolves so will their jobs. New tasks that were non-existent when the job description was first drafted will now need to be completed and tasks that no longer make sense will be eliminated.

Explain to your employees that working outside their scope provides an opportunity for them to grow, learn and financially prosper. It’s a chance to learn and experience different areas of a company that they may not normally get the opportunity to do at a larger company. Even if the extra duties do not pay off immediately or ever in their current job, there are other companies out there looking for skills they may have learned while working on projects that were outside of their job scope. For those employees you wish to retain, you will need to find a way to compensate them.

It’s important that you reward your workers if you are constantly adding more work to their already overflowing plate.  If you cannot afford raises or bonuses, then show your appreciation in other ways.  Leaving early on Fridays during the summer or buying lunch periodically will go a long way.

If your employee still resists, you may need to consider disciplinary action up to and including termination.  Just one person refusing to do what you need done can be toxic and if left unchecked it could lower the morale of the rest of the team.


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