That’s not my job

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The phrase you should never, ever utter, even under your breath, in the workplace is, “that’s not my job.” Regardless if you’re the newest or oldest employee, boss or intern, this is a phrase you only say when you no longer want to be employed with your present organization.

Now, granted if your employer is asking you to do something illegal or immoral, you have bigger issues and should consider perhaps finding a quicker exit. But this post isn’t about those kinds of situations. This post is about those every day requests that might not be officially in your job description.

While filling the copier, fetching the mail and answering the phones while the administrative assistant is at lunch isn’t likely outlined in your job description, the phrase, “other duties as assigned,” probably is. And that’s the catch.

To be a team player, the other duties as assigned portion might mean getting coffee, refilling toner and running a few errands.

As this February 2013 article from Forbes indicates, saying that’s not my job to a coworker asking for help makes you seem uncaring and like your job is better, they are beneath you and lots of other inferences you might not have meant.

“Therefore, as a contributing member of the team, a top priority is to care about the success of others (or at least act as though you do),” Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results says in the article. “An unconcerned, detached and self-serving attitude quickly limits career advancement.”

Don’t limit yourself. Instead of saying that’s not my job, follow Price’s advice and instead say,”I’ll be glad to help. Given my current tasks of A, B, and C, which one of these shall I place on hold while I work on this new assignment?”

This phrase or something similar, communicates teamwork and helpfulness and reminds your boss of your current work load and the need to set realistic expectations, Price says in the article.

What are some other career killing (or moral killing) phrases?

Resource: For Women Only in the Workplace

Disclaimer: While the title states women, this advice is just as important for men.

I have some bad news. More than likely, your job existed before you and, just as likely, it will exist after you.

As author, Shaunti Feldhahn explains in her book, For Women Only in the Workplace: What You Need to Know About How Men Think at Work, a job holder is the temporary holder and custodian of a position.

The job, position, title and everything that goes along with it, “exists independent of the person and will be there after they leave,” she writes.

That’s a pretty heavy statement. You know you are more than just a cog or a square peg and that you bring certain talents, perspectives and qualities to a position that are exclusively unique to you, but none of that matters to the company as an entity.

Think of it this way, separate the people you work with from the company. The company is cold and only cares about the bottom line. The company sees things in black and white. You are helping the company or hurting the company. The company expects you to do what is best for the company and not for yourself. Your job is to make money for the company.

“If you’ve got a role [position, title], you’ve got to play the role, like a doctor has to remove a tumor or a dentist has to pull a tooth,” explains one of Feldhahn’s interview subjects. “The dentist undoubtedly cares about the person whose tooth is failing. The doctor cares about the person whose tumor needs to be removed. But they do not let their concern for the person overshadow their responsibility.”

Feldhahn uses this example in the book (on page 35), it typically took 25 hours to investigate and file a report.  At company A where she was a salary employee, that didn’t matter. At company B where she was an hourly employee, her new boss told her she needed to cut down on her hours. To which she replied, “If I am going to do it right, it will take at least 25 hours.”

Finally her new boss at Company B explained, I’ve bid 17 hours for this project. That is all the client will pay me, no matter how much time you take. I’m going to lose money employing you. You might think what you’re doing can’t be done in under 25 hours, but I’m asking you to do a different kind of report, the 17 hour version.

The take away? If your consistently cost your company money (remember time also is money) your job will go to someone else.