Say No in the office Week: Day 1

What happens in your office when someone asks another person to do a task they have been assigned on their job description? What happens when that repetitive task over time becomes the second person's task? It, likely costs money. Let me explain.

One of the biggest problems I hear about (and have experienced firsthand) is workplaces failing to understand the differences between "role boundaries" and "teamwork". It's ok to help someone [occasionally] or on special projects. That's called teamwork. Teamwork and Camaraderie is a necessary part of any workplace. 

What i'm talking about transcends teamwork, and becomes parasitic in nature. One task transitions owners over time, and the workplace recognizes that a new person "traditionally" completes this task, and continues the pattern. William still has the task on his job description, but Theodore actually completes the task. Why is this harmful? When Theodore's task list overflows and he has no relief, he's going to transition to another company. Often times, almost comically from my seat, Theodore will have a new manager come in and "assume" Theodore is responsible for that task, and end up firing him for not doing it correctly, to a high standard, on time, or at all. Theodore now gets to collect full unemployment insurance for the New Manager's faulty assumption. The business doesn't just incur the cost of the turnover and the unemployment but let's look at the path that got us there.

Theodore was making $60,000 a year salary, where William was making only $16.00 an hour. Theodore is in an assistant management role, and has a heuristic position that requires thoughtful planning and decision making. For every 5 minute job Theodore has to do that William can do easily, is on William's list of job responsibilities, costs the company an extra $1.27. This happens 5-10 times a day. that's $1,700 a year. Lets add insult to injury, William is reading a book in his cubicle because of the bottleneck he's created in front of him. You're paying him $16 an hour to read a book 2 maybe 3 hours a day. There are 4 people, doing 8-10 other people's tasks. None of those people work for the company anymore, that's 4 positions with turnover. When the new person comes, it is explained to them that XYZ is their task, and the cycle repeats. So let's tally up the damage, $1,700 per person, plus they all recieved unemployment for at least 6 months, plus the turnover cost of approximately $20-30K each. That's only $124K for 2015 you spent on having a bad manager that had no idea tasks were getting misallocated.

The names have been changed, the story is 100% real AND as I was typing this article I received an email that the same thing is happening at another company. I got one of those "I got fired and I'm pissed" emails directed at the Leadership, but it apparently went company wide. (Great friends give leads)


"How does this happen?" you ask. Ted, wanting to be a team player, accepts the task, then accepts it again. Eventually someone else in the office will ask Bill to do it and he'll direct them to Ted. It's an excellent adventure and now it's unofficially Ted's task, Ted leaves, Steve takes his place, and now it's Steve's unofficial task that "well, Ted used to do this". Susan comes in as the new manager and Steve has been doing this task as long as Susan has been working here. It just becomes part of what is happening. Nobody that works there even knows where this started.

The Fix

Managers, MONITOR your office, make sure you're paying your employees to do the jobs you have allocated to them. if you don't have a workflow and responsibilities chart, make one! The buck stops with you! If you don't have bullets, make a comprehensive scope for each role. Be able to say NO when they ask you to punish someone for a job their role is set to accomplish. It's already planned, it's in black and white. If they want it, ask how they propose implementation and pull out the chart. Changes can be made then, but you're on it and know about it. Delegating your own tasks is a separate issue.

Let's learn to combat this. Empower workers to say no. THEN, the most important part is backing them up when they get called out for "not being a team player". They can't do everything, you as the leader need to make sure everyone in the office understands and agrees with that concept. Build a culture that people ask for help, but don't take it as far as delegating to another person without the manager's knowledge.

Planning is also a great tool to combat scope creep in everyday roles. Understand what each of your employees does, what their roles entail, what their personal passions and skills are, and how the employees interact with each other through the business process. once you have that information, you'll be able to answer questions more effectively when asked to make a change or enforce someone's "role" or get on to them for "lack of teamwork". Everyone has a different role for a reason, everyone's got a different viewpoint, and a different background of information to base opinions from. Let them excel, they will.


If you want to learn more about the financial liabilities of proper taskings and planning the roles of your office more effectively, contact me Today!


***I totally made this "Say No" thing up but let's do this, it's Monday May 1!

A whole week of How and Why to say NO. Use the hashtag #SayNo in your posts. 

Tag me if you wish! I'd love to hear your take. Good Luck and #SayNo

Cory Myres - Lubbock Consulting

Cory Myres is a serial entrepreneur and wine connoisseur. A Lubbock Texas Native, he enlisted in the US Army shortly after graduating from Coronado High School. After a tour in Afghanistan, with the famed 101st Airborne Division he returned to Lubbock Texas to attend Texas Tech University. As a Red Raider he studied Architecture, Civil Engineering, Statistics, Economics and Graduated from the Rawls College of Business Administration with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Management with a focus on Entrepreneurship. From then he went on to become certified in Six Sigma as a Black Belt, and Project Management Professional in order to found his business consulting firm, Lubbock Consulting.