It's Not My Job

min read
Its Not My Job

There may be good reasons for saying this:

  • It’s not your job and is totally outside of your skill set
  • It’s not in your KPIs and you don’t want to do it
  • You believe you are being exploited and want to draw a line as to what you will and won’t do.

Outside your skill set

This is reasonable and there could be many scenarios where this is appropriate
Where there is a safety or special licence requirement to do the job eg driving a forklift truck
Where there is a formal qualification like giving legal advice
Where additional qualifications are required as in a medical doctor without surgical qualifications or experience

Not in my KPIs

This response could be perceived as a lot more negative, not to mention career limiting.
If there is a good reason why you can’t step outside your pure job description, share that immediately. 

  • “I would love to be able to help, however, I need to complete this project by 5 pm today and I am out of the office all day tomorrow at our largest client.”
  • “I haven’t got involved in that kind of task before, and it would take me some time to understand it. Would you like me to find out who normally handles it and take it from there?”
  • "I think I should tell you that I am really nervous about talking in front of large groups of people, and moved into this role with the agreement of management with the understanding that I wouldn’t have to do so."

If it’s simply something you don’t like doing, and falls within the parameters of what you could be expected to do in a broader view of your responsibilities, you might need to rethink how you handle that kind of situation, particularly if you have spare capacity.

Simply saying “It’s not my job” could be seen as very inflexible.


The third situation needs to be discussed and clear guidelines set. Much easier said than done.
Once again, is this career limiting?
Well, it can be. Although it very much depends on the circumstances.  Let’s say you’ve just received a great promotion, and, along with your new work, your previous boss expects you to do all the things you used to do.
It is really, really important to build clarity into KPIs when people are promoted.
At larger companies it is easier to move on. When there is a smaller team, it can be very difficult to change work patterns and expectations.
KPIs and job descriptions are not absolute, but neither are they completely open ended.  If you have been promoted to managing the store, should you still be manning a cash register?
The answer could be “Not every day, but if you are short staffed, you need to jump in”
If it happens every day, then a conversation about resources makes sense.
Sometimes the transition from one role to another takes longer than expected, but if the planning is in place and an end is in sight, the fact that it is no longer your job might be less important than ensuring that your replacement gets a great handover from you.

Who takes the minutes?

There is no doubt that there are people who will always take advantage of colleagues, management and staff. One of the most frequently raised is who takes the minutes.  I have heard from many women that this is often delegated by all the men in a meeting using a number of persuasive, complimentary arguments around “you are so efficient, you get the notes out so quickly, or you write /type so quickly”.
As a woman, and a neat writer, you might still not want this to become your responsibility.  Offer to do it at the current meeting and suggest a roster for future meetings.  There is an urban rumour that a sprained wrist works too….
These situations arise in every part of your life, home and office.  I strongly believe it is not my job to wash dishes, that’s why I have a dishwasher.  But there are still delicate items that have to be washed by hand.
We all need to do less interesting, onerous or uncomfortable tasks on occasion.  We want to be seen as a team player, helpful, dedicated, ambitious and highly competent, without feeling we are being used.

It’s not easy to be all of the above without standing your ground at the right time while knowing when it really needs to be all hands on deck.

Project X or Project C?

It should always be acceptable to discuss a situation where you believe taking on additional work would impact on higher priorities. If it’s your boss, or your boss’s boss asking, you should open up the conversation and allow them to make the decision as to which task needs to be pushed to the front of the queue.
“I would really appreciate your advice on prioritising.  I have been asked to take on Project X which starts tomorrow, and I need to complete Project C by the end of the week.  As both projects require significant client engagement over the next few days, I am concerned about the best way to handle this”.
Very few jobs follow a totally linear pattern, and agility (as well as strategic leadership and management) is all about prioritising and then reprioritising when necessary.

Links, References and Notes

Accsys provides people management solutions ie Payroll, Human Resources (HR), Time and Attendance as well as Access Control/Visitor Management.
The company develops, implements, trains and services our solutions. We provide readers, turnstiles, booms and CCTV.
We run both on premise and in the cloud, as well as mobile options for ESS. Recruitment, online education and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) are part of our offering, too.
twitter: @TerylSchroenn