Five Fixes for “It’s not my job!” Syndrome

The characters in our storyHave you ever heard someone say, “It’s not my job!” How did that make you feel? A lot of you must feel strongly about this because my Agile Daily Dose video on the topic was one of our most-watched and most liked videos of the past few months. Take a quick watch now then read more about this topic. (Click refresh in your browser if the video isn’t showing)

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Back to the topic at hand: someone saying it isn’t their job to do something. In the video, I suggested one approach to handling this situation, but there are at least five different options:

  1. As the video said, if you can do whatever is being avoided, then do it. Remember, you can be Somebody who did something Anybody could have done, but Nobody was doing.
  2. Then there is the exact opposite approach of doing nothing. This approach requires a cautious approach. The result will likely be some sort of failure. The failure should be discussed at the next retrospective so that Everybody can understand why Nobody did it, and more importantly, how Somebody should do it in the future.
  3. Another option is to talk privately to the person deciding not to do the work. Sometimes people say, “It’s not my job!” out of utter frustration and don’t mean it. See if you can influence the person to change their mind and do the work. Anybody could help the person, but you can be the Somebody that does help them.
  4. You could also see if there is another person available who can do the work. On a cross-functional team, there is likely to be another person capable of doing the job. If Anybody can do it, find Somebody that will do it.
  5. Lastly, you can see if you can delete the work entirely. It amazes me how often work that no one wants to do can be removed and not make a difference. Maybe Nobody wants to do it because Everybody realizes it isn’t worth doing!

I hope these tips help you deal with Anybody, Somebody, Everybody, and Nobody!

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