This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. ~Author Unknown
If you don’t mind, allow me to begin with a disclaimer. I am not (honest and truly) thinking of any particular person when I start spouting off about certain personalities. I may mesh several known personalities together, pulling quirks and idiosyncrasies from different individuals to create my own version of Joe Smith, but I will not ever call out a single individual to pick on because I would never intentionally hurt or embarrass someone that way. I will further say that if you, my dear reader, see yourself in some form or fashion, you can rest assured that what you see is your own personal point of view, not mine. Please do not lambast me or burn me in effigy at my attempt at humor with a tongue-in-cheek account of different personalities you may encounter within your office.
All that being said, let’s give this a whirl, shall we?
Today, ladies and gentlemen, I would very much like to talk about Not My Jobbers. Not My Jobbers are an unfortunately abundant and highly-frustrating breed of co-worker. Not My Jobbers are the folks who:
- take the last bit of coffee and never make any more so that when the next poor, unsuspecting, caffeine-deprived soul walks up to the pot all they get is sludge.
- spill stuff and don’t bother to clean it up.
- take aim at a waste basket, launch enthusiastically, and when the swoosh doesn’t happen and the offending article hits the floor, they walk away because they were too lazy to walk to the waste basket in the first place.
- take the last of the manila file folders and leave the empty box.
- open a new package of factory-sealed note pads and leave the plastic wrapper.
- empty boxes of copy paper and don’t remove the empty box.
- open reams of copy paper and leave the wrapper on the table.
- use the copy machines or printers until all the paper runs out and don’t bother to refill the drawers.
- use the copy machines or printers until all the ink or toner runs out and don’t bother to even attempt to replace the cartridges.
Well, you get the picture. If something requires doing, you can pretty much guarantee that Not My Jobbers will not do it and, sadly, they far outweigh those folks who do the things just because they need doing. And the bullet-points mentioned above don’t take into account the actual work portion of office life. The stuff that an employee is actually hired (and paid) to do. There’s a lot of Not My Jobbing going on there as well.
Let’s look at four common excuses, because when you think about it, that’s all they are: excuses. I believe I shall address each one individually.
It’s not my job. Maybe not, but it’s somebody’s job, you can be sure of that. Quite honestly, just because it isn’t your job doesn’t mean you can’t help someone else with theirs. Just as an example, the cleaning crew comes in after hours to empty your waste basket, wipe up your mess, put your things in order, vacuum your floor, and you can’t take the time to clean up after yourself? Does the existence, or presence, of a cleaning crew mean that you can’t pick up the paper towel that just missed reaching its goal of making it into the waste basket? Another example: you see someone struggling to open a door, hands full, juggling multiple items, attempting to dig their keys out. It’s not your job to help them. Does something not being your job mean that that you can’t assist someone else who is clearly overwhelmed? Here, let me help you with that is not hard to say, nor is it hard to accomplish once you’ve offered. Think about those words again, Here, let me help you with that. How can those words apply to other areas of your life?
I don’t have time for this right now. To be honest, none of us have time anymore. Not any of us. We’re all so busy we hardly have time to breathe. Between your own job duties, home life, possibly a second job, maybe a couple of kids, the house, the yard, relationships – you name it – these things all take one very important thing: time. So what if you’re getting ready to get on a conference call? You have time to throw together another pot of coffee; thirty seconds late to a call you know others are going to be much later for because they don’t have any time, either! For me personally, being late for something makes me twitch. I hate being late for anything. And I’m not touting the acceptance of being late; one should always strive to be on time. But relax a little, will you? And how about when something you’re trying to do, over and over again, just will not work? How frustrated you get when you just finally throw up your hands and say, I don’t have time for this right now! (Please, leave tossing object of frustration out of the equation; you really don’t have time for that, either.) Breathe, OK? Think about how you can turn that frustration into success? And further, think about how you can apply the above Here, let me help you with that. They mesh nicely together, don’t you think?
Somebody else will do it. Ah…here we are again. Those nameless, faceless persons who come behind, and clean up after, you. Those persons are not, contrary to whatever you believe, elves, who magically appear, request no payment, work their backsides off, and expect no credit to handle things that you should have handled to begin with. Like cleaning up after yourself, and finishing that project that is nearing deadline. It’s not someone else’s job, it’s yours. I’m very sorry that’s just something you are going to have to deal with, so accept it, own it, work it, and get on with your life. I don’t care if your mother still makes your bed for you, you are an adult, with a job, with your own responsibilities – so act like it. I’m not going to sugar-coat that, people. No one else is going to do your job for you, whatever that job may be.
They don’t pay me enough for this. Nope. They probably don’t. I refer back to Here, let me help you with that. Are we, as a society, so selfish and self-centered that we forget all about others? Sadly, I believe we are. Oh, there are a few people out there who qualify as modern-day saints (don’t start with me, you know exactly what I mean) who bend over backwards to help others, no matter what form of help is required. I don’t see any reason why we cannot apply that same concept to our working lives. The big Corporate “They” might not pay you enough to deal with the angry guy on the phone who wants his money back, and the reason for his anger is most likely not your fault, but does that mean you shouldn’t do everything in your power to help get to the root of the problem and find someone who might be able to help him even if you cannot? Money has become the main reason people do anything anymore. If they’ll pay me, I’ll do it. But how about the concept of doing something just because it needs doing or simply out of the goodness of your heart? Shall we call you The Grinch?
One might consider changing one’s perspective. Look at things (whatever they are) as opportunities to help instead of being tasked with doing someone else’s work. How about instead of thinking “It’s not my job,” you think, “It’s only gonna take me a minute so I might as well get it done, since it needs doing.” How will changing the way you think change the way you feel? Well, it might not. But if it does, and the trend catches on? Think of the possibilities!