That's not my job“That’s not my job”…the four worst words you can say in business…and possibly in life.

At one time or another, we may have all found ourselves in the position where someone is asking something of us that doesn’t fall under our “job description” and our immediate response is “that’s not my job.” And I mean, if you think about it, it probably isn’t under your direct list of responsibilities…but if you really think about it, is it really not your job? And more importantly is that the right response?

Yes, I know what you may be thinking, that you work at a very big company that has all sorts of departments to handle every sort of thing that may come up. Whether it’s an HR question, a Customer Support question, an IT question, or a Sales question you have someone to deal with the issue, right? That’s why those departments are there, to provide structure and efficiency.

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And what about small businesses and start-ups that may not have that same organizational chart in place, is that response sufficient?

When you work for a small company that is growing, it feels like everything is your job…and truthfully it is. You will in fact wear many hats. Not all will be pleasant and some may be very time consuming or tedious. You will have your core set of responsibilities and a goal you should work towards every day. When you are building a company, you are in the thick of it. Don’t lose focus of your main objective but be open to “making something your job.” It’s a chance to learn and experience different areas of a company that you may not normally get to at a bigger company. During the delegation of responsibilities you will be able to recognize when it is time to hire a priority position to help with those additional tasks.

So whether we work at a big or a small company, why is “that’s not my job” our automatic response?

{Related Article: Should I Work For A Big Company of A Small Company?}

In truth, that may be the natural response because we don’t have time for the extra work, or it’s too much of a deterrence from our main responsibilities, or there is someone in fact better to address the project or concern. There are only so many hours in the day and our plate may already be full. However, it’s important to catch yourself from equating your salary and hours of work to your job description. If you do, you will not only be limiting your own success, but that of the company’s as well. Rather than say “that’s not my job,” offer a solution.

Here are some examples when you may want to say “that’s not my job” but could offer a different response.

  • Are you not the right person to address the problem?  Is