I recently had lunch with a consulting colleague. He'd just left a client meeting and was rubbing his temples in an attempt to ease a headache. When I asked if there was something specific bothering him, he replied, "Why are people so afraid to take responsibility and do their jobs?" Apparently during the meeting it had become obvious the project would need additional work as my colleague had pointed out gaps in the team's initial planning. However, as my colleague asked each of the four team members how they intended to fill the gaps, he was met with the universal reply, "That's not my job."
For anyone who has ever held a management position, I don't believe there's a more frustrating comment by an employee than, "That's not my job." However, when I discuss this issue with my clients, I make it clear it's not their employees' fault when they say this. It's leadership's fault. It's an indication leadership has failed to clearly outline what comprises the employees' jobs. You see, unless the employees are limited in what they can be asked to do by ridiculous union restrictions (Yes, I know that will cause some folks to grumble but it's true), most leaders have wide leeway in what they can ask employees to do to as part of "their jobs" to help fulfill the organization's mission, and more specifically to fulfill project and customer needs.
- When leadership properly and clearly communicates its performance expectations of every employee, they minimize the perception by employees there are silos to their responsibilities.
- When leaders share and explain the organization's Vision, Mission, and Values, as well as performance expectations before the employee is hired, the education and clarification process begins.
It's leadership's responsibility to continue this education with all staff by continuing to clarify the values expected of all employees day in and day out. What behaviors and what attitudes need to be demonstrated by everyone to ensure this organization can function at its best? Then, with their specific jobs, the employees should be clear on the performance standards they're to meet - and enhance - to benefit themselves and the customers. When the employees improve the processes for themselves, they often improve them for the customers too.
When leadership does its job effectively in developing a culture that supports a "Whatever it takes to get the job done" mindset instead of allowing the "That's not my job" culture to develop, incredible things happen. Teams become stronger. Morale increases. Performance increases. Customer satisfaction increases. Business increases.
I wonder whose job it is to make that happen?