Most job descriptions contain the clause: Other duties as needed. It’s a way an employer can leave the door open to adding responsibilities without having to add to your paycheck.
Sometimes that phrase become a catch all for any needs in your organization. The thought process goes something like this: If I have a need and there are people here who can help with that need, then why don’t I have them take care of it?
The problem is that you are often taking people away from what they do best.
Let’s say your company is hosting a cocktail hour. Do you look to your sales team to handle registration and pass out name tags? Consequently, do you expect them to make any connections or sales in that role?
Don’t say, “Well, we need someone to do it.” This so wrong because it takes an employee’s top skill and swaps it for a menial task. Get an intern, hire a temp, or pay your kids to handle the distribution of name tags. Train them in what needs be done and set them loose. This frees up your sales team to do what they do best: Create relationships with customers.
At a TV station where I worked, the News Director one day announced that the station’s parking lot was too dirty and that everyone needed to stop what they were doing, go outside, and pick up trash.
At the time, I was out on a story but I probably would have happily joined the other anchors, reporters, producers, and photographers on the cleanup assignment because I hate litter.
But now I realize that in a pressure packed, deadline environment where every day you need to create a TV program from scratch, spending 20 minutes picking up trash wouldn’t improve the on-air product or gain more viewers. Turning a group of professionals into a chain gang doesn’t help you achieve your goals.
What I know now that I didn’t know then is that you can be busy all day and get very little done. Menial tasks can take up a lot of time. Make sure your team is spending time on the things that give you the greatest return on investment. Clear the path of all the other stuff.