WHAT IS YOUR JOB?
Anything in an organization is your job if it lessens the confusion if you do it.
Your doing exactly the duties required by your job position and using your exact comm lines lessens confusion. But failure to wear another hat that isn’t yours now and then may cause more confusion than doing only your job.
The question when you see you will have to handle something not yours is this: “Will it cause less confusion to handle it or to slam it back onto its proper lines?”
Answer it by deciding which is less confusing. You’ll find out by experience that you can create confusion by handling another’s particles, but you will also discover that you can create confusion by not handling another’s particles on occasion.
Example: The hostess at a trendy restaurant seats a party of four for dinner. Jeremy, the server who is responsible for the table at which they’re seated, is swamped with customers. He hasn’t even noticed that they were placed at one of his tables. The hostess doesn’t notice that although 15 minutes has passed since she seated the party, there are still no drinks on the table. Fortunately, Connie, another server on the floor, has observed the guests looking anxiously about the dining room. They appear to be irritated at the lack of service. She sees that the hostess is unaware of what’s going on and that Jeremy has his hands full. Connie realizes that confusion and upset are about to ensue because those customers don’t even know who their server is. She decides that it would be less confusing if she were to initially wait on them herself, taking their drink and appetizer orders, and also telling them that their waiter, Jeremy, will be with them shortly. She makes sure the orders are placed and then goes back to handling her own station. But before she does, she tells Jeremy exactly what his customers ordered, so that he doesn’t cause further upset by asking them for their drink and appetizer orders again.
The only real error you can make in handling another’s particles is to fail to tell him by verbal or written communication exactly what you did. You stole his hat for a moment. Well, always give it back.
Usually, an employee has to know more jobs in the company than his own, particularly jobs adjacent to his position on the org board.1 He often has to do more jobs than his own because those jobs simply have to be done, no one else is there to do them and he sees that. He is only limited in what he can do in the organization by lack of know-how.
Example: Mary is a well-trained, proficient billing and collections clerk in a dental practice. The duties of her own job do not extend beyond the handling of finances and she performs her job in the back office. Yesterday, the front desk person didn’t show up for work. Mary took it upon herself to move her files to the front desk and she proceeded to greet patients and answer the phones for the rest of the day, while getting her own work done in the process. After lunch, the dental assistant became ill; she went home an hour early. There was still one patient left to treat and with no one else in the office besides the dentist, she performed the duties of his assistant for that one patient. She saved the day in more ways than one. Mary was not only experienced in her own job, but she had also learned how to help out in a pinch in both the front office and the treatment room.
So, an employee gets the job done of (1) his own position, (2) his department and (3) the whole organization. An employee must always make sure that he thoroughly does his own job before helping to get other jobs done in his department or elsewhere in the organization. While it is certainly okay to help out when needed in other areas of the company, there can be extremes here. People who are always off-line2 and drifting about into the areas of other people, wasting the time of others and getting in their hair, aren’t doing their own jobs. When we find somebody doing that, we know if we look in his area we’ll find a rat’s nest.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR JOB
Your hat is your hat. It is to be worn. Know it, understand it, do it. Make the title and duties of your job position known to others in your organization. Ensure they understand precisely what it is you do.
You keep your job in a good organization by doing your job. There should be no further politics involved. So, in a well-run company, if you do your job you’ve got a job. And that’s the way it should be.
1 org board: abbr for organizing board, a board which displays the functions, duties, sequences of action and authorities of an organization. The organizing board shows the pattern of organizing to obtain a product. The result of the whole organizing board is a product. The product of each hat on the board adds up to the total product of the organization.
2 off-line: A line is a route along which a particle travels between one terminal and the next in an organization; it is a fixed pattern of terminals who originate and receive, or receive and relay, orders, information or other particles. A person is on-line when he uses the pattern of the organization correctly. If he does not, he is off-line.