Why a Not-My-Job Attitude Won’t Cut It at a Startup

Working for a startup is different. A lot of work is spread over a small amount of people. Roles shift depending on what’s needed at the moment.

It’s not uncommon for employees to do a whole bunch of different tasks—whether or not they’re qualified for it. The fact is in a startup, every team member has to be willing to do whatever it takes.

That’s why if you ever hear the phrase “not my job” around your workplace, you’re probably going to have a problem. And honestly, no matter what the size of your company, this not-my-job attitude means the employee does not get the big picture.

You want, you NEED employees who are completely bought into your company’s mission and vision. They have to be all-in. Those people who truly care about whether your company succeeds or not will do whatever it takes to make sure things get done.

What about defining job roles?

People like to know where they fit and have clear expectations about what they should be doing. So it’s fine to define job roles. However, it should never be the be-all and end-all. Yes, the majority of employees’ time will be spent on tasks that fit within the defined roles, but employees should have the freedom and flexibility to do things that go above what they may be expected to do. At least they should be finding a way to get things into the right hands when the need arises.

It’s not unheard of to see some of the first employees taking out garbage or cleaning the toilets. When you’re not quite ready for a receptionist, employees have to pick up the slack and answer phones. While it may seem demeaning to some, it still needs to be done and employees who are all-in will understand the importance. It simply is what needs to be done.

The fact is that startups have constantly changing priorities, and people need to adapt. Your people will have to deal with growing pains. Your employees will have to fill in holes. And as startups are growing—and growing fast—new holes pop up all over the place.

It’s okay to hire new employees for a particular job, as long as you’re up front about what it’s like working for a startup. If you don’t, it can make the job really difficult when shifts and changes occur. They might still be stuck on “But I was hired to do [this]” or worse, “That’s not my job.”

You don’t want one of these people working at your company:


Startups need people who take pride in their work and find meaning in their jobs and their companies. You see, if employees truly care about the big picture and ultimate success, then it is their job.