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That was a post in Facebook that gave me pause. I thought of the days when I worked within an organization and if there was ever a time I was guilty of that.
I can't really think of an instance where I specifically refused to help out when I can just because it was not my job. (But I will pass up helping when the task is highly specialized and requires experience or training rather than botch it.)
The rest of the post by Wes Prichard read that saying "it is not my job" smacks of arrogance and laziness. An exemplary worker does not confine themselves just to their duties.
When workers lend a hand, whether to get a task done on time, or help someone find a solution to a problem, it adds value to any organization.
It does not have to be your responsibility to assist a co-worker when necessary, it just is a good work ethic to practice.
And most importantly, helping out should be done even when no one (read: superiors) is looking.
My early work training was with a lady who wore many hats. This meant she had so many things going on at the same time. And as her assistant, I was exposed to everything she dipped her hands in. (Check out a previous article about my early work experience: On the job training)
What she taught me (without actually teaching me) was to be familiar with every step of whatever was being done to produce or create something. Since she was both involved in the creative and technical aspects, my boss knew a lot of things - from the most menial of jobs to the most complex.
And by observing her work ethics, I picked up on a lot of them, including knowing how to do every step within a certain process. And because I saw what is being done, it was so easy for me to jump in and help out when necessary.
The training ingrained in me the curiosity to learn about steps taken to complete any work done in my succeeding jobs. It was not necessarily to take on the responsibility, but to be able to assist when there is a need to speed up things or to catch up with deadlines.
This became invaluable when I was later appointed to supervise groups of people assigned various tasks. In educating myself about how things are done, and actually doing them, I became confident asking staff to take on tasks because as much as possible I never ask them to do anything that I couldn't do myself (except very technical stuff).
I know there have been underlings who have felt embarrassed when they see me helping out with what is supposedly their responsibility but I always brush them off. When it's our organization on the line, the more hands on deck, the faster we can deliver results.
Most of the jobs I held in the past did not operate on regular work hours. So, I was used to rendering work or service beyond usual office hours, and even working overtime when necessary.
In Congress, during budget hearings, we could be working until nine o'clock or even up to midnight. In the newspaper, there may be instances when a story is updated past seven o'clock.
I remember learning to lay out newspaper pages just watching the chief artist and having to take over the task during one stormy day and only a few people came in to work at that time.
I had little choice because no one else had been trained for the job yet. In hanging around the artist's work area, I picked up on how he did things and when it was time for me to do it myself, I fumbled a bit but still managed to get it done.
So, the attitude of not doing something that isn't my responsibility isn't in my vocabulary. I help when needed, and no questions asked because it is our company on the line.
It's not aspiring to be a know-it-all, but wouldn't it be an advantage to know as much as possible how things are done or created in whatever industry you're in? After all, we must never stop learning to grow as individuals.