When someone on your team trots out this phrase, then you’ve got some work to do. No small business can afford to have employees with this attitude – everyone on your team needs to be prepared to pitch in and help.

From my years of working in HR and observing people’s behaviour, I know there is always a “why”. And I think it’s helpful if you can get to the bottom of why your employee said “It’s not in my job description”.

Some common reasons “why”
1. The employee is (sadly) not a team player
The employee considers they only have their job to do – they will do the bare minimum and they don’t intend to help anyone else.
If you have an employee like this, what can you do? A starting point is to reinforce that this is a small business and everyone has to provide cover for other people when they are away or when the workload needs an extra pair of helping hands.
There are no guarantees this approach will work. And if it doesn’t, running with a more formal approach may be necessary. In my experience, when an employer outlines their expectations and holds an employee accountable, the employee is placed in a position of making a choice – do they get on board with those expectations or do they make a decision that this is not the right workplace for them.

2. The employee doesn’t know what is expected of them
It may be that the manager hasn’t managed expectations. For example, an employee may have worked in the company for two years, but never had to work on a Saturday. Their employment agreement states they may be required to work Saturdays, but in their two years it’s never happened. So, it might come as a rude shock when their manager starts to ask them to work Saturdays!
How do you avoid this? I recommend you implement from day 1 by asking your employee, every now and then, to work a Saturday. This now changes the employee’s expectations and avoids problems later on.

3. The employee may lack the confidence or skills to step up
If it’s a role the employee hasn’t done before, it could be quite daunting to take on a new task. It’s up to the employer to be continually thinking about how to grow and develop their people, so they can step up with the confidence to perform. At the same time, it’s important that the employer only asks employees to do jobs that are reasonable, lawful and safe.

4. The employee may think they are too busy in their own job
When everyone is busy, it can be stressful to be asked to do someone else’s work too. Consultative communication between you, as the employer, and your employee is vital to ensure the employee can handle the new workload.

Getting it right
In a sports team, if the coach asks you to fill in for an injured player, you do it without complaining. So, what’s the difference in a work team?

The difference lies in the team culture. The sort of team culture that you see every weekend on a sports field is what businesses should strive for. As the employer, it’s your job to get this right.
• Quite simply, you need to establish and foster a team culture where people work “beyond the basic job”.
• Clearly state your expectations and set standards. Ensure you walk the talk and you hold people accountable for meeting the standards.
• Develop capability across your team by trusting your employees and giving them the confidence to do more.
• Recruit people who add value to the team over time.
• Manage your employees’ workloads effectively – there’s a difference between being stretched and being pushed too hard.

If you would like help in this area, drop us a line or give us a call – we would love to help.