Home Transformation That is not my job

That is not my job

by Srinivas Saripalli

That is not my job – We often hear this !!.

This is a story from a colleague who was providing technical coaching for a client. He was one of the technical coaches working with 40 Scrum Teams to improve on their technical and development practices and bring them on pair with 21st-century standards. 

At one of these sessions, the technical coaches provided training, mentoring, and coaching about modern development concepts like test-driven development (TDD) and acceptance-level TDD (ATDD). One of the developers involved went to his desk, opened his drawer, pulled out his working contract, pointed at it, and said: “It does not say ‘testing’ in here.”

Clearly, that developer was relying heavily on his paper contract. If it didn’t state to wash his hands after he went to the toilet, maybe he wouldn’t have done so either. Who knows? 

Excuse: That is not my job
Excuse: That is not my job

But seriously. Does it help if an idle team member points out that something is not their job while the work needs to get done and all the other people involved are too busy to do it? Not really. 

Taking a close look at companies large and small, we see a particular pattern. In smaller companies, it seems to be more accepted behavior to take over work even though it may not be part of your job description or not even your expertise. In larger companies, though, people are more hesitant to do so, as the likelihood of stepping on someone else’s toes is higher and might cause problems, not to mention that it often doesn’t help them advance their career. 

Regardless, I don’t think the latter attitude is helpful to solve the complex problems for which we introduce the use of Scrum. 

As humans, we are born with few fully developed skills. One of the core things the human brain is capable of is learning new things, which it does continuously for its whole life. We learn to crawl, to stand up, and eventually to walk and run. Each next step of our path of continuous learning frees us from the perceived problems we experienced in every previous phase. 

Even if you aren’t required to accomplish a task, it is still important to have the abilities needed to complete it. Furthermore, if the work does not need to be done, then most people will agree to not doing it. But, “That is not my job” is much different.

We are constantly learning how to do better during the course of our lives. It is what makes us human. Leverage your human qualities to help your team, and advance your career by doing so.

It’s a really weak excuse to not do the relevant tasks when someone says “That is not my job” To avoid jeopardising team morale and self-development, don’t go there.

Related Reading: What are the characteristics Self Organizing Teams ?

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