April 22, 2009

Going Above and Beyond: Overcoming "That's Not My Job" Thinking

As you probably know if you regularly read this blog, I am an avid television watcher and fan. I was recently watching a rerun of the West Wing, and I saw the president's body man Charlie Young go above and beyond in finding a man who had written a letter to the president when he was a young child. The man had originally written the letter to FDR, but it was never delivered until his building was torn down and the letter was found. He requested a picture with the president, and because of Young's work, he got that picture, albeit with a different president and some 50 years later.

What that one scene really brought home to me is the need for people to have a desire to go above and beyond in their work. All too often, it seems as though people are only out to get a paycheck these days. I regularly ask myself 'why' when I encounter it. Why is the "that's not my job" mindset so prevalent?

As association professionals and executives, I think overcoming that mindset with our fellow employees is essential to having a top notch association. How can our members feel as though they are getting exceptional service when staff won't do something that isn't necessarily their job? Members can see it. They know who is willing to go above and beyond, and who is not.

I guess I had a couple thoughts on how to help this situation, and I hope you'll add your ideas in the comments:

1. The organizational culture must support going above and beyond, and leadership must lead the way. Why would someone decide to go above and beyond if everyone else isn't? We in leadership roles need to model the way in going above and beyond in our daily interactions and work. Coming in at 8 on the dot and leaving at 5:01 isn't going to change the culture. It's exhibiting the exact behavior we don't want.

2. Recognize staff who go above and beyond. People like to be recognized by their superiors, and if the recognition is something that they value, they're likely to change their behavior to model what the recognition warrants.

3. There has to be skin in the game. If staff don't understand the mission or direction the association is trying to take, they aren't likely to go above and beyond for the members. Helping staff see that the association's success is everyone's job, even if something isn't necessarily within their narrow job description, is another important way to overcome the "not my job" mindset.

Anyway, again, I hope to hear some of your ideas in the comments. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good idea for that situation, actually I am the person who is always willing to go above and beyond, what I thought was we are team player, not working on your own, if something happened even it's not your business, but we have to co-operate, this is teamwork.