Whose Job is It Anyway?

In the spirit of last week’s post The Responsibility Myth I am sharing a short post originally released in March 2009.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a dentist about the challenges of running an office. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you work in a huge company or a small office, wherever there are people trying to work together there is inevitably an issue I will call “whose job is it?”.

The even more personal version of this issue is “but that’s not my job”. It arises when something isn’t getting done that everyone knows needs to be done.

In my conversation with the dentist we talked about the basics like “whose job is it to take out the garbage?”. He asked, “how does such a simple and easy thing get so complicated?” I’ll suggest it gets complicated the minute we think it’s supposed to be someone else’s job.

So whose job is it to take out the garbage? How about the person who sees that the garbage can is full?

Defining our job descriptions can certainly be helpful, but I think we have gone overboard. Trying to identify all the tasks that define our jobs these days is virtually impossible. And all too often it gets in the way of getting the job at hand done. In the case of my friend the dentist the buck always stops with him anyway. Every job is his job as long as it doesn’t get done by someone else.

Where does the buck stop where you work? What might be possible if we all started to think like we owned the place?

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Enter A Comment

Donna Svei   |   06 June 2010   |   Reply

Hi Susan,

I loved this post too.

When I was a department head, I had a simple rule. “If one of has to work on Saturday, all of us will work on Saturday.” Every Friday afternoon about 1:00 p.m. I started noticing people talking to each other, moving around the department, and doing the work that needed to be done, whether it was in their job description or not. Needless to say, all of our work got done and we didn’t work very many Saturdays.



Susan Mazza   |   08 June 2010   |   Reply

What a great “rule”! And a wonderful demonstration of an act of leadership – taking a stand.

Thanks for sharing your example Donna.

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Swiss Ball Exercises   |   28 June 2010   |   Reply

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