That’s Not My Job

Hey everyone! 2011 has been an amazing year so far, with great guest contributions on Green Project Management, a 3-week series on Agile, and leadership topics including How to gain instant credibility and Can quiet people lead? I really hope you have enjoyed the expertise provided by these folks and visit their entries.  Thank you to all who contributed.

This week, I want to talk about something a friend of mine shared.  She actually sent the picture to the left in an email and said “Came across this and thought that you might be able to incorporate it into your PM blog”…so here we go.

While I know she was joking around, I have heard “that is not MY job” too many times on projects.  For me, this is one of the most frustrating things to hear from a team member.  The room gets tense, all of a sudden heads are down writing notes, and everyone is waiting see where the grenade lands.  Here are a few things you can do to limit the number of time you here the sound of nails down a chalkboard…I mean “that’s not my job.”

Vision Casting – As a PM you need to effectively share the vision of the project.  The team doesn’t want to work on busy work.  Also, no one is going to prioritize your project if they don’t believe there is some level of executive attention on the initiative.  Everyone wants to be a part of something that makes a difference and something that will be recognized.  You need to express what the picture of success looks like and how it is going to help the organization.  Even better is to leverage what you learned in the stakeholder analysis about what their pushes and pulls are.  Be able to express to the various functions and/or businesses how it is going to help them specifically (save time, reduce workload, increase revenue, etc).  They need to know how the project benefits the company, that it is important, and how it benefits them (their team or individually).

Roles & Responsibilities – One of the first things that must be done with a project team is to layout the roles & responsibilities.  This is where understanding the business, its strategy, and how the various functions support the organization in that goal comes into play.  You want to understand this BEFORE the work effort – commitment – is identified.  You don’t want folks slipping away as they see the workload increase.  Document who is on the team, the function they represent, and the pieces of the business they own (systems, process, etc).  Read up on RACI charts.

Collaboration – Some of the best efforts to vision cast, identify stakeholders, and document roles and responsibilities breakdown during a project.  One of the biggest reasons I see is that team members feel an approach or decision that affects their work has been made without their input.  They use that decision to back out of the commitment or redirect responsibility as “not BAU” so it would fall to group A.  If people are engaged and a spirit of collaboration is fostered in the team, then you will have more buy-in.  Sometimes it is just a matter of pride.  If the team decides to follow the recommendation of Team Member A, then you can be sure that Team Member A is going to want to see that idea succeed…even if it really isn’t his/her job.  They may go above and beyond to find a white paper to support the decision, or find a webinar for the team to listen in on, etc.

I am sure there are some other techniques to leverage in this space and I would love to hear them.  How do you keep “It’s not my job” out of your project teams vocabulary? Or at least minimize it.


5 thoughts on “That’s Not My Job

  1. Hopefully most of the company’s we come in contact with are cutting-edge company’s. With that being said not all employee’s are. I’ve heard it said leadership set’s the tone for sucess. That concept works from the top down and will be found in cutting-edge company’s. An employee that is under stress might say “that’s not my job” out of frustration. An employee that is looking to do their job and only their job will say that out of something totaly different. The question is how deep does their need for sucess go and to what degree are they willing to stretch themselves or be stretched to see the end results. There are two kinds of people in the world, Those who will and those who won’t. Those who will eventually show up, Those who won’t are being stummbled over.

  2. Thank you all for taking the time to visit my blog and even more so for leaving a comment. I think to of the most comment reasons fall into 2 general categories: Leadership & Resources

    Leadership – Melanie you mentioned on facebook the team aspect and that atmosphere gets set by the execs in an org. What rewards/bonus/recognition system do they have in-place? Is it for project based efforts or individual performers? Is there recognition at all?
    Resources – Michael, you hit that one with the overworked point. Too many people have been doing 2 and 3 jobs since the great-recession. Many companies are seeing quarter after quarter of growth but aren’t hiring yet….that workload is unsustainable and people are beginning to show it.

    Thanks all!

  3. I appreciate your input on this topic where people are overworked and under appreciated. Bringing people’s focus back to the big picture of what is being accomplished, not the minute picture of the work of today. Thanks, great insights.

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