"It's not my job" or the like is a line we far-too-often hear. It is a phrase that needs purged from our lexicon. Unfortunately, its use is widespread.
We hear it from officials in Washington and other places of public power. We hear it from kids at their first place of employment. We hear it from the stereotype of a union laborer. We hear it from middle managers. Passing on or shirking responsibility knows no one strata of human being. That phrase may even exist in some hunter-gatherer, remote Amazon tribe!
The next time you are going to say it — DON'T! This is directed to any of you who are employEES by the way.
Employers, managers, and other leaders ... we can have a pow-wow later, but you are getting the benefit of the doubt that you should know better. If not, shame on you. There isn't time this week for that. Employees, take my advice here and let's see if we can't get you a raise, promotion, relocation, or other activity that will benefit you.
Make your job your job. Even if you are a fry cook. Learn about cooking fries, yes, but ask questions about the rest of the kitchen. The procedure. Read the rules as you may very well be able to point out to others above you, if only in rank, that there is a more efficient or correct way of doing something. Look for patterns, pace yourself, and never stop learning about what you do. Information in today's world is crucial, and ignorant people are a dime a dozen. When the deep fryer breaks down and you as the "mere" fry cook know about the make, model, and common troubleshooting solutions to your station; all of a sudden you become appreciated and valuable to those above you.
Inform and entertain yourself. This goes beyond learning the routine to clean a room as a housekeeper in under X minutes. Set personal goals even if you think the task is menial. Teach yourself how to provide a little flare. If it won't get you fired for policy violation do something like make little origami animals with spare pillowcases. Leave a personal touch like a small note saying "thanks" or with a tip like "you should try the restaurant's chicken." Make work fun yourself, if it isn't already! Also by educating yourself you can discuss more than just the usual gossip or low-information opinion. To an employer you go from a no one, to an anyone, to a someone, then to you as an individual instead of a floating name tag.
Learn to communicate. Communication makes the world go 'round and it will set you apart from others who can't in very dramatic ways. Speaking clearly with good body language, vocabulary, and tone WILL set you apart. Use tact and politeness in equal measure. You will be noticed more quickly, receive more compliments, and make more allies at your job. As a line cook it isn't your normal "job" to address guest complaints but you may have to do it. If you can without vulgarities, attitude, "like/um/uhhs," and such you will often find circumstances to be easier to control. This is just as true if you are an insurance salesman trying to explain complex and sometimes abstract numbers with a family looking to cover themselves in the worst case scenario.
Lastly, learn the "no, but." Stonewalling someone is impolite, and you probably don't like it when other people from friends and family to supervisors and bosses just flatly deny you. Take the initiative yourself. Learn options. Prove that you aren't just some worker. When someone asks you if you can give them a discount while ringing them up reply with something like, "No, but if you signed up for our card, it would give you discounts automatically."
"No, but we are having a sale on the other brand of X if you'd like that instead."
"No, but I appreciate you asking. Maybe someday soon I'll have that authority!"
Through dedication to your work and workplace, knowledge of it and other even remotely related things, and the ability to communicate your ideas, you will make yourself invaluable to a responsible employer. Make your place of employment yours while you are there. Command it, even if only from a desk with an earpiece or pallet jack in a back room.
Is it your job?