Job Duties vs. Opportunities
“That’s not my job.”
I’ve heard this phrase uttered way too much in the workplace during my career. The sentence is usually being shot off like a gun intended to blast anyone else in the vicinity of the person’s ire. People tend to have a narrow view of what their job duties entail, and they look upon extra tasks as burdens instead of opportunities.
Someone who applied for a job as a receptionist may view their job duties as being limited to greeting people when they enter the building or directing incoming calls to the appropriate employee. Somehow being asked to put together an order for office supplies or keep the conference room neat and organized or to coordinate a catered lunch for a committee meeting activates their inner Clarence Darrow and they want to argue the letter of their job duties instead of using the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and value in other areas of the business.
These folks are quick to complain about how “they don’t get paid to do that“ and completely miss the irony that if they proactively did more things like that — perhaps they would get paid more because they’ve shown themselves to be capable, deserving, and ready for more responsibility (and more money).
Look at added duties as added opportunities
Embrace the moments when you’re asked to contribute more than your role normally provides. More importantly, don’t wait to be asked. Look for ways you can improve morale, productivity, profits, and efficiency in your workplace. and just start doing it. You don’t need to ask permission to make things better.
A simple example
I work in an office with a small break room that includes counter seating with bar stools, a single-serve coffee station, kitchen sink, paper towel dispenser, and a dishwasher.
When I go to brew a coffee refill, I restock all the K-Cups in the dispenser by taking them out of the boxes under the cabinet and sorting them in the coffee tray. I’ve never gone into that kitchen to get a coffee and been welcomed by a fully-stock coffee selection. It’s almost always half-empty every time I visit the kitchen. So there are plenty of people taking the coffee, but “restock the coffee tray” isn’t on anyone’s job description, so it doesn’t get done.
The only other person I’ve seen stock that coffee tray is the company owner.
I’ve also witnessed “the boss” straightening the bar stools under the counter, refilling paper towel dispensers, and emptying trash cans.
If that kind of extra work isn’t beneath the person who signs your check every two-weeks, why would you turn up your nose at the opportunities around you to make a difference (even a small one) in your workplace?