General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

It's not my job!

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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?

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.

"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.

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.

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.


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