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  • Writer's pictureLisa Dawson

“That's not my job” ... 3 considerations in your response

It's the response that no administrator or manager likes to hear after asking (or telling) an employee to step up and do something that he or she doesn't normally do.

"That's not my job."

It's the ultimate punch in the manager's gut because it's taken as a direct affront to the boss's authority. You've been challenged. Undermined. Dissed. Ouch!

Problem Employees: Coach, Discipline, and create an about-face!

You to Employee: Can you file those boxes of folders? Our regular staff member has been out for two days and we need to get those back into place.

Employee: That's not my job.

You: (speechless).

Before you unload on “Employee” about your role as the delegator-in-chief, whose decisions, orders and do-as-I-say direction should not be questioned, think of why this Employee or any other employee would say this to you in the first place.

Here are three reasons why this Employee stood their shaky ground and drew a line in the office carpet:

1. You didn't make it abundantly clear when you reviewed the job description with them that duties can and will include anything that the firm need them to do for the benefit of the team. Repeat: for the benefit of the team. This should be done early in the interview stage and it should also be part of the (annual) review process. It wouldn't hurt to drop reminders at staff meetings or during other one-on-one chats. Clarifying with constant reinforcement of expectations, both written and spoken, removes the “I didn’t know” excuse.

2. Do you tend to favour asking one employee over another? When you're looking for someone to fill in for an absentee or to pick up the workplace slack do you see one person as an efficient, jack-of-all-tasks person, leaving out others who could do well by being given the opportunity? The employee feels the sting of unfairness when they see that you never cornered anyone else to perform extra tasks.

Take extra care to spread this out. Staff will quickly sense the inequity and label you as: (a) uncaring; (b) out of touch; or (c) manipulative.

Employees like will call you on it.

3. If you're not in violation of 1 or 2, then maybe you don't need this employee on the payroll. If you have provided: a. Yourself as a good role model b. Clarity and constantly reinforced expectations c. Measurable goals and benchmarks d. An alignment of individual responsibilities with relevant business goals e. Real opportunity by delegation of responsibilities and decisions f. Timely and actionable feedback g. Resources and training

…and the employee is still insubordinate and a toxic component of your team, then, “Houston, you have a problem”! Such an attitude, if left unchecked, will suck the morale right out of your workplace.

It's also important that when you do play shuffle-the-tasks with your workers, that you reward them. Not in pay raises or bonuses. But show your appreciation. Give them fun assignments now and then. Take them to lunch. Use gift cards. Flowers or chocolates. Let them cut out early.

"That's not my job" may be a symptom of a deeper problem that you need to fix.

The essential steps to deal with problem employees quickly, appropriately and effectively include:

· The three types of poor performance – and why it's important to know the difference.

· The correct steps for "diagnosing” problems before trying to reach a conclusion (avoid "management malpractice”).

· Specific words phrases to use in employee coaching meetings – words that focus on the situation, not the person!

· An easy, yet powerful, tool for tracking employee performance.

· Coaching points to include in every employee’s check-in

· How to foster ongoing employee feedback throughout the year

· How to know when to terminate- 7 signs it’s time to terminate.

Don’t give up…

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