Insight article

That’s not my job

The first time you hear someone say this to you in the workplace it comes as a surprise. Yet actually it isn’t uncommon to hear. It has made me think hard about why someone would say this, rather than just help out. Perhaps they are too busy, but if so, why not just say that? Perhaps it is above their skill level, and embarrassment prevents them from admitting it? Or perhaps they simply don’t want to help! In today’s economic climate, where each of us is trying to excel in our role and add value to our company there will be times that we need a helping hand from our colleagues and associates.

Perhaps it has something to do with accountability? If you are accountable, you will own the solution as my colleague Mel mentioned in her recent blog on ownership of change. So the key must be in making all colleagues accountable and getting them to take collective ownership for the company’s success.

So, how can you get all of your employees engaged in creating a successful business? The sticking point often comes for colleagues who aren’t client/customer-facing and don’t see it as ‘their job’ to create a great customer experience. Finance, HR and IT often fall into this trap. The answer is to help them understand that even if six degrees removed from the customer, they still have a role to play in working better together with their colleagues as ‘one team’ to help create that culture of customer focus. By changing internal processes or systems they too can effect the positive experience that a customer will have, be it through better efficiency or understanding of the impact on the end user. Sometimes simply by shifting the emphasis on the customer – by putting the customer at the heart of everything you do – you can quickly change the way people think about their role and the inter-relationship they have with others in the businesses.

In theory this is great. However, there is one key thing that glues all of this together and makes it work; reward and recognition. People need to understand how their contribution has helped the greater good. For those who aren’t in direct contact with clients and don’t have direct accountability for programme outcomes or client relationships, it is more important than ever to include them in the rewards and recognition of success. Be sure to always thank others and show appreciation to those who have stepped up to help you out, especially if what they did ‘wasn’t their job’.

Nailia Tasseel