Not My Job Syndrome

If you catch yourself saying that something you ought to do isn’t your job, you’re probably not doing your job properly.

You weren’t hired to be a mindless machine (if you were, you should probably quit). You were hired as a problem solver. If a problem is not strictly in your area of expertise, but you can solve it, it is your job to do so.

If you start solving problems you’re not supposed to solve (unless it hurts your ability to solve problems you should solve), you’ll become more valuable asset of your company, and your company will become better at solving problems — which benefits everyone, especially you.

As a rule of thumb, you should consider everything even remotely related to your company as your job.

2 Inspiring Comments

  1. I completely disagree. Do what you are good at, and let others do what they are good at. There is nothing mindless about having a specialty.
    Why would anyone pay a super talented developer to fix a photocopier?
    … or perhaps less dramatic, design the UX.
    To think that you can just go and do something outside your expertise and do it just as well is arrogant IMHO, people go to school for this stuff. You may be able to bring a fresh insight, but that should be done in collaboration, not en rogue.

    1. Fair point, Jesse.

      I believe that having a specialty is a must for everyone. The article is about mentality of the people who refuse to solve simple problems that are out of their specialty.

      Should a super talented developer fix a photocopier? It depends. If it’s broken to the bone, of course a talented developer won’t be able to fix it, and she (or he) shouldn’t even try to do so. But refusing to fix a simple paper jam, which would take about five minutes, because it’s not in a job description is ridiculous.

      I’d never expect from a developer to design UX. But what if UI is missing a single button? Should a developer ignore this saying it isn’t his (or her) problem and ship the product without it? I don’t think so. If possible she (or he) should create the button. Unless, of course, he (or she) sees that it won’t be of sufficient quality. In that case, UX designer should be contacted and asked to provide the missing button, right? Oh, wait… this isn’t in a job description of a talented developer, is it? It’s a project manager’s job to communicate this, right? Right. So the project manager will communicate this to the UX designer. But UX designer will say that prototype was faulty and that it isn’t his (or her) job to fix the prototype. The guy (or girl) who does the prototyping will explain that the button was missing in documentation… can you see the pattern? This is, of course, an exaggerated example, but I see it happening all the time.
      Again, I’m not asking front-end developers to design database architecture. But if a table in a database is missing a single column, would it be unreasonable for a front-end developer to quickly add the column and solve the problem? Or should he (or she) say that this isn’t in a job description?

      If I can solve a problem effectively (both quality-wise and time-wise), I will surely solve it. I believe it’s in my best interest and in the best interest of my employer.

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