‘“I remember it perfectly,” says Marc Cuspinera of his first day in 1989. “I couldn’t believe they were making me clean rocks. I’m a cook. I didn’t expect to be doing this. It’s not so great. But I get it. It’s true that all these details add up.”’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentices by Lisa Abend, pages 28-29.
Do you have a job description? Does it spell out to whom you report? Does it have a list of responsibilities and expectations? Does it have a final sentence, one last bullet point… “Other duties as assigned?”
“Other duties as assigned” maybe the most important part of a job description and it maybe the least understood.
As the job interviewer, this is an important point to discuss with a job seeker. Be clear on expectations with the job seeker. Invite others who maybe be part of the interview process to explore this point with the applicant. “Other duties as assigned” conversations give clues to how well the job seeker works with others.
With so many organizations from for-profit to not-for-profit to government running lean, working outside the job description is the norm, rather than the exception.
As a job seeker, give this point some critical thinking. Be clear on expectations. Be aware of your pride and how it might get you into trouble if asked to do “Other duties as assigned.” If asked to do “Other duties as assigned” and you respond: “That’s not my area.” “I don’t do ________.” “I didn’t sign-up for this.” “That is beneath my education level.” This could begin your exit from the organization. Remember, the customer is anyone who relies on your work including your boss, your cohorts and those dealing with your organization. How you respond and treat your internal customers has significant impact on how your treat your external customer who actually contributes to your income!
As a job seeker, you may need to redefine and expand your definition of work. You may need to check reality with your perception. You may need to get out of your comfort zone. Flexibility, cohesiveness and collaboration are essential work-life behaviors organizations are looking for in those they hire. It is not productive to try to argue that “Other duties as assigned” are not in one's job description.
your contentment. While contentment is in the here and now,
self-discipline needs to trump contentment. Delay contentment for a
greater good and better long-range possibilities. Most of all, its about
looking beyond me to we. “Other duties as assigned”
is about me to we. It takes a team to succeed and move forward, not an
individual. As good as LeBron James was in the 2015 NBA finals, it was a
team who won the title.
If you do have heartburn over a specific “Other duties as assigned,” then have the courage to talk with your superior about this. Do not go triangulate, complain or gripe with your cohorts about your “Other duties as assigned.” This is not healthy for either you or your organization. Learn when to roll with “Other duties as assigned” and when to push back. Discover the benefits for you and the organization to perform “Other duties as assigned.” Finally, learn to laugh at the unusual, unexpected “Other duties as assigned.”
“Other duties as assigned” reveals your willingness to sacrifice and become significant. As the father of a U.S. Marine, sacrifice is a given. A Marine recruit knows full well before they step off the bus onto the yellow steps at boot camp “Other duties as assigned” and sacrifice will be a lifestyle. “Other duties as assigned” may not lead to success, but it will lead to significance. Significance is the impact we have on other people’s lives, hopefully positive.
Recognize that you can also do “Other duties as assigned” on your own without being asked. This form of “Other duties as assigned” might be a random act of kindness or an act of going the extra mile. Watch Netflix's Reed Hasting's encounter of “Other duties as assigned” and the impact it made on him.
Lean into “Other duties as assigned.” It could impact your future beyond your imagination and expectation!