“That’s not my job.”
It’s a loaded statement, isn’t it? With it comes a lot of baggage—maybe even cringe-inducing memories. And it’s not a one-sided issue. You’ve likely seen times when this statement was justified, and you’ve probably seen times when it was a lame cop-out.
So, how do you ride the tightrope of inter-positional activities? How do you encourage teamwork without overstretching or over-obligating your people? After all, it can be hard enough getting your people to follow the rules, let alone go above and beyond their roles. With that in mind, here are five ways to turn that tightrope into a bridge to company success:
1. Recruit for values. Smart recruiters look for candidates with the right skillsets, proven experience, and who are culture fits. But sometimes when they look for culture fits, they merely look for shared personalities, interests, and dispositions. By looking for shared values, recruiters will be able to find the employees who will genuinely care about the company’s vision and their coworkers. Also, whether it’s a declared company value or not, smart recruiters look for humble people. Humble employees will go the extra mile because it’s the right thing to do, and not just to toot their own horn.
2. Encourage open communication across departments. If everybody in your organization feels comfortable talking with each other, then they’ll be willing and able to share good ideas. For example, let’s say your writers find a lot of value in software that helps proofread copy (like this one). They could share it with other departments to cut back on sloppy emails and other messages that may make the company look unprofessional.
3. Assume the best. By encouraging employees to give others the benefit of the doubt, they will avoid feelings of suspicion and skepticism when others voluntarily offer to help them fulfill their duties. In the example above, an employee with an assume the best attitude will say, “That’s a good idea.” Rather than, “Who do they think they are?”
4. Lead by example. Let’s say you’re trying to determine how to ensure compliance with policies and procedures. Rather than going at it alone, why not ask employees for their feedback. Send out a questionnaire or interview employees individually. Regardless, set a precedent that you value others’ opinions when doing your own work so that, when the time comes, you’re able to give them feedback that will help them in their work.
5. Encourage friendships. Ideally, coworkers should look at each other as friends they happen to work with. Because if their relationship is merely a professional one, they’ll be less likely to look for ways to help each other out. Friends are more likely to ask, “How can I help you?” And friends are also more likely to accept someone else’s help when they need it. Consider this as you plan team-building activities. You’re not just building work teams; you’re forging friendships.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter what anybody’s job is when a company isn’t reaching its overarching goals. Everybody has different duties and roles, but they should all be reaching for the same team goals. In the end, one thing that’s clearly not your job is to worry about only yourself.