Author Topic: It's not my job!  (Read 3399 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

shadowfox79

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2861
It's not my job!
« on: July 02, 2014, 03:31:22 AM »
This is something that's been winding me up lately, so I wanted to know what everyone thought.

I work in a university as a course admin. The office I currently work in only handles a small number of courses but they are mostly UG and very popular, so I run the most popular UG ones with two other colleagues - we take a year group each. I'll call my colleagues "Eric" and "Adam". Eric is very easy to work with - Adam is fine to have a joke with, but is becoming a pain in the rump.

Basically, while we have our own general duties, if something comes in that needs doing and the usual person isn't there, or if it's an easy fix, Eric or I will handle it ourselves. Adam will not. Many times I have come back from a meeting to find something important came up that Adam didn't touch because it's not his job. Just last week he was wrestling with a student's marks profile and found a mark in it that shouldn't have been there - he could very easily have removed it himself, but instead he looked up who had put the mark in (me), handed it to me and told me to do it. Since I was in the middle of something else he then had to wait half an hour asking constantly "Have you done it yet?" while I wanted to scream "For pity's sake, Adam! Do it yourself!"

I've been gritting my teeth and bearing it because, all being well, I intend to retrain from September so won't have to put up with him. However, I dare say there will be other times this comes up. Is there a polite, professional way to suggest he try focussing on helping the student rather than "not my monkey", or is this something best left alone?

Katana_Geldar

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1784
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2014, 04:34:06 AM »
Have you tried a little empathy? Put him in the students shoes and talk about exasperating it is.

Or maybe say it's his job to be helpful, to show some initiative.

spookycatlady

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2014, 08:40:56 AM »
"If you can't wait for me, I don't mind you changing it yourself.  Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll have to wait."

Generally speaking, in my office it's important that the author of an error fixes it and for the sake of continuity, we tend to be a bit territorial; in other words, the opposite situation that you and Eric are working in, but similar to Adam.  So, my suggestion acknowledges that yes, it's yours to fix, but there's no harm in him addressing it himself.

Do you fix his issues, or hand them back?  You can also try asking him, "Do you mind if I just make the correction, or would you rather do it yourself?"  It gives a small sense of ownership and control over the workload that for some personalities (like mine), really works wonders.

shadowfox79

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2861
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2014, 10:10:17 AM »
Spooky - it depends. If, say, I'm working on something and find an error he's made, I'll fix it myself rather than pass it to him. If something comes in that's his area, I'll give it to him, but if he's not in, I'll see what I can do. It doesn't look good to tell a student their problem will have to wait because Adam's not here.

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6445
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2014, 10:18:21 AM »
Have you actually said "Adam, would you go ahead and change it so the student doesn't need to wait?"

Many people feel odd changing other's work without express permission given.


camlan

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8569
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2014, 10:20:09 AM »
I would start at least letting Adam know he's made a mistake. If you and Eric are just fixing his mistakes without telling him (and I get it, that's exactly what I'd do--fix the mistake and get on with the work), then Adam thinks he makes no mistakes and you and Eric do. He may even see telling you about your mistakes as "helping" you to do your job better.

So I'd tell him quickly, "Say, Adam, there's an X here on J. Smith's record when there should be a Y, I'll go ahead and change that, okay?" He needs to know that you and Eric are not the only ones making mistakes.

And I like SpookyCatLady's wording for when he asks you to correct one of your mistakes. If he's in a hurry, he now knows he can fix things. And if he's not, he can wait for you.

It could be possible that he just doesn't realize that the office standard is to fix whatever you can as quickly as you can.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


BarensMom

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2014, 10:30:02 AM »
In every job description ever written, there is almost always the phrase, "other duties as assigned," or something along those lines.  If you have any authority over Adam, I would refer him to that phrase. 

Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8862
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2014, 10:38:06 AM »
In every job description ever written, there is almost always the phrase, "other duties as assigned," or something along those lines.  If you have any authority over Adam, I would refer him to that phrase.

I know it's annoying when people pull the "that's not my job" thing over petty stuff, but this doesn't sound like the same kind of situation to me; it sounds like he doesn't feel authorized to change another admin's student records, which makes total sense to me. And I think they're all equals.

Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5211
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2014, 11:02:39 AM »
In the example as given, I can see how Adam might not have wanted to correct someone else's mistake. I think it would have been fine if you said, "I'm kind of busy right now, feel free to fix it yourself." And then in the future, when you find a mistake of his, at least mention it to him before you fix it.

I have seen both sides of this. In my office everyone has specific things assigned to them, but there's always miscellaneous stuff not assigned to anyone that still needs to get done. I had one co-worker, Mike, who would not lift a finger to do anything that wasn't specifically part of his own project. He even balked when the boss handed him brief assignments like training someone else. It just felt very ungenerous, like he was better than we were. And it certainly didn't endear him to anyone else.

On the other hand, we have some part-time interns to take care of basic things around the office. If I see something that's part of their job, that they haven't done, I will not take care of it unless it directly affects me. Because if other people do their job for them, they won't learn how to do their jobs. For example if the plasticware cups are empty (specifically one of their jobs to fill) I will get the box down and take out one spoon just for me, and leave the empty cup. If they're around I try to mention the undone duty to them also, but I won't do it for them unless there's an immediate need.
~Lynn2000

bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12341
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2014, 11:03:18 AM »
Don't worry, usually managers notice who goes above and beyond and who doesn't.

"I will get right to that when I finish the TPS report or you can change it now. Thanks for letting me know."


shadowfox79

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2861
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2014, 11:46:32 AM »
I'll try to clarify.

Firstly, yes, we are all at the same level. Secondly, he wouldn't have been changing my records. I'll spare the details, but module mark responsibility is not by level, as most of our duties are split. It was a final year student (therefore Adam's) but this module was actually Eric's - however I had entered the marks as Eric had been swamped. There was no reason Adam couldn't have gone in and excluded that mark - we do this all the time - but he chose to pass it to me as I was the last to touch that mark.

There was, incidentally, another mark that needed exclusion which Adam had entered. I was sorely tempted to just exclude the one, but felt it would be petty. ::)

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30583
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2014, 12:22:08 PM »
"If you can't wait for me, I don't mind you changing it yourself.  Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll have to wait."

Generally speaking, in my office it's important that the author of an error fixes it and for the sake of continuity, we tend to be a bit territorial; in other words, the opposite situation that you and Eric are working in, but similar to Adam.  So, my suggestion acknowledges that yes, it's yours to fix, but there's no harm in him addressing it himself.

Do you fix his issues, or hand them back?  You can also try asking him, "Do you mind if I just make the correction, or would you rather do it yourself?"  It gives a small sense of ownership and control over the workload that for some personalities (like mine), really works wonders.

I agree with this.

And I would think that you could also say--"Adam, if I were in your shoes, I'd be fixing this myself, since we're all in this together. In fact, I would like it if that's the way things worked here, generally. Is there a reason you aren't willing to do that?" And then listen.

Because maybe Adam has been dumped on by other people (maybe even Eric or you, actually), and fears he'll end up with too much stuff. Maybe he's worked with very territorial people in the past, or he thinks you are.

Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5211
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2014, 01:08:38 PM »
Yes, my first impression from the descriptions is that this could be more of a philosophical issue. You and Eric are simpatico in that you both just need to do what needs to get done to help the students, without being excessively territorial or even communicating each change to each other.

Adam seems to be coming from another place. Maybe he's an ungenerous jerk. Or maybe his different experience has taught him that you don't step on people's toes by changing something they've done without talking to them first, or giving them the chance to change it themselves. Maybe experience has taught him that fiascoes occur when people change stuff without telling other people, or when someone takes over someone else's work instead of telling the customer to come back later.

So I think it just depends on how much you want to get at the root of the problem. If you were going to be working together a long time, I would say a conversation about the philosophy was important. But if it's only going to be a couple months, maybe just try treating the symptoms. "You made a mistake here, can you change it?" "Sorry Adam, I'm busy right now. Feel free to change it yourself, or you can wait until I'm done with this."
~Lynn2000

Arila

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 759
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2014, 01:25:00 PM »
As both a reviewer and an author of work/documentation,

I prefer that the reviewer alert the author to an error and that the author correct it.

It does seem a little bit silly, and as the creator/fixer of the errors it's not always the best feeling emotionally to have mistakes pointed out, but sometimes it is important for discussion, because it's not always an error, sometimes it is a misunderstanding and actually correct as it was to start with.

I don't think Adam is wrong to do what he does, just different, and in the interest of harmonious working relationships, I think the three of you (+ superior if appropriate) should determine how it will be done going forward.

Slartibartfast

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 11704
    • Nerdy Necklaces - my Etsy shop!
Re: It's not my job!
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2014, 02:26:52 AM »
It may be possible he truly doesn't realize he does this - some people just focus on tasks and don't think to mentally analyze the distribution of "shared" work all that often.

If that's the case, the solution is to take everything from the nonverbal "everyone knows" level to an explicit "using your words" level instead.  So next time he passes something to you, gently let him know you're in the middle of something else and you're sure the student would like it fixed right away and does he have time to do it?  Either he says yes (and that becomes the new pattern), or he actually *says* "no" and you can then actually call him on it.  Much easier to say "Why won't you do your share?" if he's actually said "no" and can't claim he just didn't know . . .