How To Respond To Tasks Outside Your Job Description

When you’re asked to assist with a delicate brain operation and you’re an administrative assistant, “That’s not my job” is probably a valid excuse.

In most workplace situations, however, taking a “That’s not my job” attitude can limit your career—or stop it dead.   That doesn’t mean you should necessarily do anything your boss asks you to.

If a task is truly inappropriate, or you don’t have time, or you have some other good reason for turning it down, follow this advice for retaining your job along with your integrity:


  • Be honest. Explain why you’re not the best person for the task, or how tight your time is. The other person may realize that he or she is better off finding someone else. But be ready to take your best shot, or rearrange your priorities, if it’s really necessary for you to accept the assignment.


  • Offer options. Maybe you know someone who’s better suited to the job. Or you can take on part of it. This shows you’re willing to help and that you want to see the work get done correctly.


  • Don’t speak too quickly. A flat refusal may be held against you, even if your reasons are valid. When possible, take some time to consider the task and your options. Maybe you can find a reasonable compromise.


  • Help out when you can. Even if you’re not an expert in the skills required, you may do a perfectly acceptable job. Remember that you’re part of a team, and be willing to do whatever you can to help your employer succeed.


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