Excuses bosses never want to hear

The phrase “that’s not my job” is toxic in a workplace. Here’s how to respond to it—and similar phrases—if someone throws it at you.

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“If you ever answer someone important with ‘That’s not my job,’ you will be right! It won’t be your job when you’re terminated for being unimportant or useless.” — Judd Weiss

The most profoundly unhelpful phrase in modern business consists of four syllables: “That’s not my job.”

While uttering this phrase is rarely grounds for dismissal, perhaps it should be—especially in these days of economic uncertainty and an ever-changing marketplace. Teamwork matters more now than it ever has before.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, the members of a workplace team must hang together, or they’ll surely hang separately. If just one person refuses to do what needs to be done, he can damage the team’s productivity.

Since human beings can be remarkably selfish, you’ll likely hear some variation of this excuse eventually. How should you handle it when you do, and when is it legitimate for someone to say “no”?

No guff allowed

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