When someone says “It’s not your job”

As a CEO, VP, director, or manager of any kind, some of your key responsibilities involve ensuring that the team members for whom you are responsible are achieving the results that drive your company in the desired direction, that they live your company values, and that you foster them professionally in a way that is in alignment with your goals and theirs. You have dozens strategic plates to spin. So when you do something that it not considered to be in your direct realm of responsibilities, people will inevitably question if you’re neglecting “your real job” or whether you’re meddling in someone else’s job. Obviously, your primary responsibilities are always a top priority, but I can think of multiple cases in which doing something outside of your “job” makes complete sense. Let’s take a look.

It keeps your skill set current

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is your personal responsibility to invest in your own growth. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with taking opportunities to keeping your skill set sharp. This doesn’t mean that you should take time out of your work day to learn a new programming language. But how about taking a few minutes to help a customer troubleshoot an issue or finding interesting articles about marketing, sales, product development, or HR and sharing them with the appropriate team members?

It keeps you connected to your customers

Without your customers, you’d be out of a job. Make it an imperative to stay connected to your customers in order to provide the best possible products and service to them. There are many ways to do this. Sometimes, I respond to questions posted via the chat on our website, conduct short trainings, lead user group meetings, or hold one on one feedback sessions with customers. Those direct interactions can be invigorating and help you make better strategic decisions.  

It helps you get know your employees better

While it should always be a priority to empower team members to step up when their manager is away, sometimes it’s a good idea to offer yourself as an additional resource. It allows you to spend time with employees with whom you may not interact as much on a regular basis, and in some cases, you may even identify opportunities for process improvements and professional development for individuals.

It helps with other aspects of your job

Some activities that may not technically be your responsibility can actually be helpful with regard to other aspects of your job. For instance, you may not necessarily expect a CEO to write white papers, but depending on the topic, researching trends within your industry or challenges that your customers are facing can provide you with insights that might shape your product roadmap.

It strengthens empathy

Jumping in to help a team member with a difficult or tedious task is not just a nice gesture that can enhance team spirit, but it also lets you empathize with that person. Whether it’s responding to an extensive RFP, writing a Statement of Work for a professional services project, or helping a sales rep find a prospect’s contact information, don’t shy away from helping when and where it makes sense.

It balances your brain

Do what’s best to create the right balance in your brain for optimal performance. For instance, after spending hours in interviews or working on a strategic initiative, I enjoy doing more hands-on work such as QA, to recalibrate my mind.

As long as you don’t lose sight of what you consider your main responsibilities as a leader, there is nothing wrong with picking up things that fall outside of your job description if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What about you? What are some of the reasons that you do things that are “not your job”?

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