It is your job

Matt Morgan
Jun 13, 2013


"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?



J. Hartman

Matt, I'm giving you a standing "O" for your latest and what I believe is your best entry to date! Not only is it extremely relevant to current events in our area, but it is relevant to every single one of us regardless of our status! Two points I would like to make. The first is people need to learn and be encouraged to dream again! I personally believe, that some of the "It's not my job" remarks, stem from superiors/bosses frowning on those who dream of new ways or suggestions because they feel their authority is being threaten. Likewise, the dreamer never speaks out because they wish to stay employed. The second item, you encourage people to command their space/employment. There are a lot of people who choose to demand it and that's a problem. By demanding, which is usually verbal and stresses consequences for not obeying, respect is never gained . However, commanding is usually brought out through actions, leading by example and thus respect is gained. Just my 2 cents, but this was seriously your best work to date! Thank You and you know, S.M.I.L.E.


Good job Matt..


But, there really are things that aren't my job. Plus, the more one does, the more is expected of them and for what compensation?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

There may be. I wouldn't want a hospital cafeteria worker evaluating my x-rays. But to go out of your way to learn makes you as you and not an employee a better and more knowledgeable person. Also, if you believe in any kind of concept of karma that too will build and over time will accumulate to a point where something good will happen for it. Compensation isn't always rewarded immediately unless you are a test subject in an experiment hitting a button for a treat.

It could just be a matter of attitude, self-worth, or level of optimism but I would rather have people expecting more of me as a person than less. I can't really think of anything more demeaning, in my opinion of course. I appreciate your input on this article, there has been an excellent and multifaceted conversation regarding it!

dorothy gale

Well said. I believe in helping others wherever and whenever I can, but I REFUSE to do work for my boss for which I do not get paid. I work because I have to, and my employers don't pay me enough for the work I do. I will VOLUNTEER when I'm old and retired, thank you.


This reminds of me of something humorous. My boss and owner of the company, was telling me about his daughter complaining about cleaning the guy's restroom in the shop. (of which I had to do as well, even though I was in management. Usually 20-25 employees) She asked her dad, "WTF is wrong with these guys that they can't hit the urinal standing right over it?!". He said that IS disgusting and reamed us all a new one in a safety meeting one day.

Later on, on a drive to look at a job, he shyly told me that he was at fault for some of that as he would walk up behind some of the guys, grab them at the waist and twist their hips while they were releaving themselves.

I asked if he told his daughter about that. He replied, "NO! Whatta ya think? I'm stupid?!" True story. :)


As is said: There are no small parts, only small actors.

Reminds me of Booker T. Washington's "Up From Slavery," wherein he writes that the path to racial equality is to learn a trade and be the best you can be.

As an example: If you're a mason, be the best mason possible. People wanting to employ you will not care about the color of your skin - they'll only want the BEST.


It's difficult to convince people of your platform when they only make $7.85 an hour and really have no power other than to be the one that has to deal first hand with the irate, looking for something for nothing customer. Promoting this mindset enables employers to expect even more than two jobs for the price of one employee.


Bingo Unassumer!!!!! Also, totally agree with Phroggy's comment. I used to always volunteer to help out with with duties outside of my job capacity and go above and beyond the call of duty. I took pride in helping out my other co-workers and in keeping the place running smoothly. However, I have learned that no one appreciated my efforts, certainly not my employer with no raise, increasing health care costs, no even so much as the occassional atta-boy. But, I got to absorb yet another chore to my already busy day. Lucky me.


Re: "No raise, increasing health care costs, no even so much as the occassional atta-boy."

If you are indeed 'competent in your job,' it reads like you need to find a better "horse" to ride in the "race."


Much easier said than done Contango.


Re: "Much easier said than done,"


So it's much better to go through life miserable and hating to get up and go to work every morning?

This is America: If you can't "make it" in one of the freest, richest countries in the world - it's probably hopeless.

Gotta think that most illegals still think that this is a better country than most of the sh*tholes they're escaping from.

I tried NEVER to think of myself as a victim and I have little sympathy for those who do.

IMO, most Americans are spoiled cry babies and have NO IDEA how good they've got it.

Yea, the govt. is gonna FIX it and MAKE it FAIR. ROFLMAO!!!


Oh, I never think of myself as a victim. Yeah, this is America, but not everyone who tries to "make it" actually does. It doesn't mean they haven't put in their share of blood, sweat and tears or played the so called "victim".


Re: "Not everyone who tries to "make it" actually does."

No sh*t. But your odds are one h*ll of lot better here than more of the "armpit" countries of the world.

I've been in lots of businesses; failed in some, broke even in others and succeeded in enough of ‘em.

One oil well or gold mine is all ya need. Most people just don't like to get their hands dirty and so they complain about the unfairness of life.


Well, you brought it up before I could! Totally disagree with the author in that no employee should never say "it's not my job". Bull crap. Yeah, we all know our bosses all appreciate our efforts and in return reward us handsomely and help us climb the ladder. NOT

dorothy gale


The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I totally understand your point, and as the article alluded, there is a second half to the topic. I also indicated the word "responsible" for employer/manager/etc. The point is to empower and otherwise support a beleaguered or sad employee and to let him/her know that the drudgery of a job (minimum wage or not) doesn't have to be as bad if you make it better.

Good behavior and volunteerism on the job may not see immediate reward, but it will help you as a person be a better person and also give you standing clout should your name be considered for an advancement of some kind. I don't want just the pay or workplace to be better, I want to see the worker better as a person.

A similar message to employers is forthcoming so please read and comment on that as well when it's put up! Thanks for your feedback on this one (and the interesting conversation that spun from it).

The Big Dog's back

Exactly Unassumer.

dorothy gale



Re: "Small" jobs.

I recently spoke with a woman whose son is about to graduate from college with a degree in engineering.

He's worked at McDonald's for five yrs. in order to help pay for school expenses.

He started at the counter and has since worked his way up to regional supervisor.

McDonald's would like him to stay on after graduation.

However, he's torn because he makes good money, they treat him well, but that's not what he wants as a career.

Again: There are no small parts, only small actors.

Edwin Ison

If I was Matt's boss, he would be cleaning the john for a long while.
Just to test his resolve.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Haha, challenge accepted good sir. I have been cleaning the toilets at the store for years now as well as washing the tablecloths, sweeping/mopping/vacuuming, picking up dog poop on the sidewalk (and dead animals on occasion), and other sundry and dirty duties. Nothing like a leaky garbage bag spilling trash juice on your jeans as you take it out at the beginning of the day to really get you going!


In the workplace, one "what have you done for me lately?" will erase, 20 "atta boys"...get over it.


Re: "Grab them at the waist and twist their hips,"

And as I pretended to lose my balance, while continuing to swing around 180 degrees, spraying the "offender":



Reminds me:

At the airport, I had some *hole who kept bumping into me in line from behind 'cause he was too d*mn close.

I pretended to lose my balance and fell backward into him. I apologized. From then on *hole kept his distance.


If it was fun, they wouldn't call it work...:)


Lots of good posts on this one. I also took pride in my work. I gave 100% for 42 years. I didn't expect much, just a simple "thank you" would have been enough. Some management people appreciated my extra work, and some thought I was trying to take their job. I am so glad that I can look back and say "I did my best".


IMO, ya gotta pat yourself on the back 'cause few are gonna do it for ya.

In my experience with the business world, I figured that only about 3% of management was "enlightened."

To futilely expect a pig to someday 'miraculously' become a fine thoroughbred horse can only lead to frustration.


In one of my 1st jobs, we were forbidden to say either "I don't know," or "it's not my job" to any of our customers. Anyone caught doing so was fired. If you didn't know, you were to tell the customer that you would "find them someone who could help them." As for "it's not my job," we were expected to help one another out, a quality that has sadly gone with the "gimme" generation. Oh well.

The Big Dog's back

Would you really want a lawn maintenance person wiring your house or business?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Nope. But I wouldn't ask the lawn guy to do that. I would ask him if he knew someone he would trust with that which would be an opportunity for him to support a friend, family member, local business, or just show off his knowledge if he was paying attention to what other people do. While I wouldn't terminate his service if he didn't, I'd by mighty impressed if he did and probably use his recommendation. I imagine that he would feel quite good about himself and validated that while he wasn't getting the wiring business, his knowledge was used in getting it done.

Plus, as his employer I would be more impressed and willing to continue the service agreement because he has proven that he is competent in more than one area.

The Big Dog's back

Your reasoning is what's wrong with industry today. People doing jobs they aren't qualified to do because the "boss" ask them to.


Unassumer you got it right. Make your own way outside of work...sadly most employees aren't really valued.


This is overall a good article, very good advice to get through the day and stay positive. However, I also have to agree that it is no guarantee for getting ahead, getting a promotion, or getting better pay. The job market is terrible today, and many employers are just looking for "warm bodies." And see how far it got all the factory workers in this country. I wouldn't count on any employer anywhere for long-term loyalty.


Re: "...many employers are just looking for 'warm bodies.'"

"Warm bodies" that can pass a drug test and that will show up for work and on-time.

It's a MAJOR problem.


And they pass said drug test, show up on time, never miss a day, do over and above their job requirements, maybe even feel secure enough in the job to buy a decent vehicle or house, then BOOM, one day they go to work and the doors are locked. buh bye! Just pull yourself up by your 50 year old bootstraps after losing your car and your house, and work for minimum wage, happily!


Re: " day they go to work and the doors are locked. buh bye!"

So: Life's a b*tch and then you die huh?

Actually, they usually 'closed the doors' AFTER I (or my spouse) left. :)

The Big Dog's back

Run 'em into the ground huh.


^^^ “Feeling bad about yourself today?” - The Big Dog's back aka brutus smith, Nov. 24, 2010 :-7


Not being a victim here, just saying, it happens all the time. I do agree with the article to a certain extent. We need more positive thinking and a better work ethic overall. From all aspects, not just the workers at the bottom of the ladder.


Re: "We need more positive thinking and a better work ethic overall."

I was taught and learned long ago:

1. You work for the money.

2. If you're looking for ego gratification from a job, you're MOST DEFINATELY looking in the WRONG place.

3. Approx. 3% of management is "enlightened."


You work for the money, to buy insurance for your car, to get you to work, to buy insurance for the car...


4. Learn to live on 90% of your income and save & invest the remainder.

Someday, you'll be an senior and you DON'T wanna try to survive off of the "crumbs" that the govt. is gonna give ya.


Got that right! I'm at the very end of the Baby boomer generation, and figure that retirement may never happen. That's ok, there are worse things than working. Work is paid exercise, nothing in life is guaranteed, and don't put all your eggs in one basket! My mortgage might be paid off by the time I'm 80, and maybe then I can at least take a vacation!

Mr. D

Yeah, I was young and foolish once. Went the extra mile, always made a good showing by helping out someone else having a problem at their work station, doing more than my assigned job. Its all good. . . until you get hurt. Get written up for doing tasks not trained for. . . Written reprimand and suspension for doing work not assigned to you. . . Employer fights you on injury claim. . . Yeah, I learned early on that "It aint my job!!!"