If you’ve been in management for any length of time, the phrase “And any other duties as assigned,” is one you know. Whenever I ask one of my audiences or leadership training teams, “What’s that line at the bottom of most position descriptions?” invariably the knowing participants start to chuckle and say, “And any other duties as assigned!” That phrase conveys feelings of power to many managers yet most don’t understand it or apply it correctly. That phrase, as defined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), refers to minor or incidental tasks related to the position being described - not whatever tasks the manager dreams up or, in the worst-case scenarios, uses to punish an employee. However, even when utilized as suggested by OPM, leaders are missing a key opportunity. They’re missing the opportunity to instill the expectation, responsibility, and authority with every employee to think beyond what is put in front of him or her, and do what is right, given the organization’s culture.
Leaders are missing a key opportunity to instill the expectation, responsibility, and authority with every employee to think beyond what is put in front of him or her, and do what is right, given the organization’s culture.
If you want your employees to think beyond what is put in front of them, simply telling them you want them to think, to take initiative, and do what’s right isn’t enough. You need to say it, visually convey it, demonstrate it, and support their self-initiated actions over, and over, and over. Too many employees who have been in the workforce for any length of time have experienced managers saying they want their employees to take initiative, but then aren’t supported by their managers when they do. Leaders, if you want your employees to think, to take initiative, and to take on duties to help move your organization forward, you need an organizational culture that reiterates - and supports - that expectation over, and over, and over again.
Leaders, if you want your employees to think, to take initiative and take on other duties to help move your organization forward, you need an organizational culture that reiterates - and supports - that expectation over, and over, and over again.
One easy way to reiterate this expectation is to change the “And any other duties as assigned” phrase to one that will help to create and maintain the type of culture you want. Revise that phrase that causes many managers to smirk and chuckle, to one that reinforces your culture, team focus, and expectation of individual thought, initiative, and action. Frame it to focus your employees’ actions, not on what any one manager may interpret, but on what you as a leadership team and organization have identified as the framework for the culture and behaviors you expect: Your Vision, Mission, and Values. Your Vision should be clearly articulated so every employee, from the newest hire to the most tenured, understands what you are all working towards. Your Mission should broadly, yet clearly, state what you do as an organization, why you exist, who you serve. And your Values, when written well, outline what behaviors are non-negotiable and are expected of everyone who takes a paycheck from or represents your organization. These three core strategic planning tools are the cornerstones of your organization’s culture. Use them. Because of this, I suggest leaders revise that phrase to leverage what you already have in place. Revise that phrase to: “And any other duties needed to help drive to our Vision, fulfill our Mission, and abide by our Organization’s Values.”
Revise that phrase to, “And any other duties needed to help drive to our Vision, fulfill our Mission, and abide by our Organization’s Values.”
This phrase changes the sub-text message from, “Wait until the manager tells you to do something,” to “Observe, identify, and do what is needed to move us forward in a way that best represents who we are as an organization. Do the right thing, and you’ll be supported.”
Leaders, what type of organization are you creating? “Do as I say” or “Think and do the right thing”?
Maybe it's time to change your culture!
Get your copy of my eGuide "Leadership Development and Succession Planning — They’re Not Just HR’s Responsibility" Free!
Copyright MMXVII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. She'll help you implement a plan to change your culture! Learn more about me on LinkedIn!