You are currently viewing It is not my job!
Written by Brent Knight, President of ISS

I recently shared a What’s Up Wednesday covering the topic or situation titled, “it is not my job”.

How often have we heard those words in sequence?  I suspect that the answer is often.  So, what does this mean?  Is it that it is truly about job function or is it more of a statement around not wanting to have to deal with something?

As Americans, it is my opinion that we tend to be conflict-averse.  Why?  I think that it has to do with the fact that from a very early age, we are encouraged to be peaceful and harmonious and are taught to follow instructions and not question authority.  Sure, this is a very broad statement and is only my opinion, but I feel that there is truth to it.  We are basically taught to avoid conflict when we should in fact be looking for opportunities to create conflict.

That last part might be hard to swallow, but there are company cultures based on this principle and many of those companies are highly successful and their employees are very happy.

When I walk a job and observe somebody doing something unsafe, I get concerned.  It is even more concerning when other workers are watching and not saying or doing anything about it.  I don’t feel that this has anything to do with job responsibilities, but rather the fact that these observers don’t feel that it is their business and that they are being nosey by saying something.  I find this both frustrating and discouraging.

Some companies are building cultures around the “see something…say something” mentality.  I love this because it promotes speaking up and makes it not only safe, but an expectation and responsibility.  To change a paradigm, we have to make it safe, train people on how to do it and then continually encourage them to take action.

Think about this the next time that you are in a situation like the one described above.  Ask questions about the why.  Make it personal.  Show them that you care.  See what happens.