‘It’s not my job’

Protest No pixabayIt’s not our job’, screamed the newspaper headline as I sat in a Coffee Shop at the Musgrave centre last month during a round of load shedding. The story was about Durban Metro Police claiming that traffic control at intersections when the lights go out is not their problem – they have other things to do. No one seems entirely sure what they do do, apart from keeping out of sight, which seems the primary preoccupation of traffic police everywhere.

But ‘it’s not my job’ typifies an attitude towards work and service that is found in all organisations and families and among all ages, races, genders and levels.

Sometimes we are under such pressure that we protect ourselves by creating an ‘it’s not my job’ barrier around us: thus far and no further. This is all I do. That over there is not my responsibility – I don’t do that, or that, or that ….

But our bosses, colleagues and customers are not particularly interested in what we cannot do. What can we do? What do we do? What will we do? And, more particularly, what will we do for them?

‘How can I help you?’ has to be the watchword for our business and our lives if we want to make a difference and if we want to achieve even the most modest of goals. Zig Ziglar said, ‘You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.’

There will be times when we have to say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you.’ The trick lies in shifting our focus from what we do or don’t do to solving problems. Instead of listening to what your customer, boss or spouse might want you to do, and having to say no, learn to listen for the problem they need solving. Henry Ford said his customers wanted faster horses. He could have said that was impossible and left it at that. Instead, he provided a solution to the problem his customers faced – the need to get more quickly and more safely from A to B. That he could do.

What can you do?

If you would like to discuss training for your staff or management team in customer care, leadership or people management skills, contact me at ian@simplycommunicate.co.za

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people and HR & people-management consulting.

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