“It’s Not In My Job Description”

“It’s not in my job description” (INIMJD)

When I hear this, I cringe.

I cringe because the role of an EA is so varied, and often there are tasks involved that aren’t in the job description. Yet we only say this sentence when it’s a task we don’t want to do.

The EA role is there to enable and empower the Senior Executives to execute business strategy. If it’s getting tea and coffee for an important meeting to make your exec look good, then DO IT. If she/he is battling after a late night of work, perhaps get them a bevvy without asking – it will do wonders for their willingness to help you when you need it.

Think of these INIMJD tasks as relationship building.

I’m not saying do everything someone asks, that will make way for people to treat you like a doormat. I’m saying create your boundaries, swallow your pride and pick your moments of when to be precious and when to maybe suck it up.

Here are the 3 tips to help you navigate this:

  1. Create your boundariesCreating your boundaries in the workplace is so important. This means being efficient, effective, supportive, able to go the extra mile, but only ultimately knowing when to say enough is enough. A good example of this is creating time boundaries. Does your executive expect you to stay late every night because he/she does?

    The reality is that the workplace isn’t your priority, your family/friends/YOURSELF should be your priority. Personal and professional development count for a lot more than just staying late to work on the never-ending list of tasks – so rather, if work is your priority, start a course of some kind that requires your attention in the evenings after work. Once you set these boundaries, the expectation won’t be there from the exec and you will move along happily.

    Is it a new boundary you are putting in place? The same principle applies, but COMMUNICATE it to your Exec first. Once they realise you mean business and not staying extra hours, the work they want you to do will magically appear earlier than you usually got it, and instructions become clearer. If you told them you will be leaving at 5 or max 5.30pm most evenings, and they bring you something at 5.15pm, just say unfortunately you have a prior engagement that you must attend, and they know you leave at that time. If they have higher expectations, then the role should have been advertised as such. Obviously, take this on a case by case basis as you see fit, but I often hear that EAs feel like they are always working late with no reward, but I see this as a two-way street and that you are enabling the Exec to give you work and stay later.

    So no more being annoyed at longer hours with an INIMJD attitude, do something about it. You certainly have the power to.
  2. Swallow your prideYes, you will have tasks that aren’t your job. But as previously mentioned, look at these opportunities not necessarily as career progression, but relationship building.

    So it’s not your job to go and get coffee for everyone, but you have been asked to do this for a big important meeting, so you swallow your pride, take those coffee orders and then walk them into the meeting. After the meeting one of the people come to thank you, you have a small chat about life/what you really do, they remember you and when a new job opportunity comes up they reach out if you are interested. You can tell a lot about someone from one experience. You know how I know this happens? I have been there.

    I have been the Exec hiring someone that brought me coffee because of their attitude, professionalism, and intellect in our following conversation. So don’t be above anything, swallow your pride and be the best version of yourself in any situation that you can be.
  3. Pick your momentsWhen we hear those words ‘it’s not in my job description,’ it often comes with a negative connotation that you are being asked to do something you don’t like. This is because if you are asked to do something you do like, but it’s not in your JD, I doubt you are going to mention it. But if you push back on certain tasks because of INIMJD, the person will likely not look to you for the good INIMJD moments.

    I still firmly believe in creating your boundaries, and you managing the task in the best way possible may be delegating it, but always consider how you as a person will be perceived.

    So pick your moments to push back or delegate, and choose very wisely.

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