6 Things Employees Say To Get Out Of Taking Responsibility

Those rascal employees! Happy to take money from the company but not always so happy to take responsibility! Don’t allow it! Make them earn their money. Here are 6 things they say to avoid taking responsibility and six ways you can combat this.

  1. “I would help you but the manager won’t allow it”. An old favourite. This particular phrase is of course mostly heard when one of your employees has to deal with an unhappy customer. In a sense it is a stroke of pure genius as it will devoid the staff member of any responsibility whilst making sure that the customer will immediately ask to speak to the manager. This will ensure that the manager has well and truly inherited this problem and leave the staff member but an interested observer in a battle of wills between a disgruntled manager and a disgruntled customer. The best way to deal with this is to just politely inform the customer that under no circumstances do you undermine staff members by contradicting their decision (make sure staff member is stood next to you for maximum impact).
  2. “You have a problem”. Said by an approaching employee with a very concerned look on their face. Best dealt with “No, you have a problem!” An easy rejoinder. Of course the employee will look at the manager in astonishment as he reevaluates the manager/employee role and where he fits into this. “But,” he squirms, “that would involve me making a decision, solving a problem and earning my wage for a change.” Perplexed you tell him that this has always been the idea. “I pay you to solve problems not to cause them” you mutter as you check out the sport’s pages of your favorite newspaper.
  3. “That’s not in our contract.” Said frequently by disgruntled employees. Normally after you have asked them to reorganize the filing cabinet. But the thing is contracts aren’t job descriptions. One would think that job descriptions were job descriptions but even that is not the case. No document is going to list all and only all the tasks that an employee is supposed to perform and job descriptions always end with “and any other jobs that the manager deems suitable”. Ergo, unless it is illegal, it is in the contract. The easiest way to combat this is to have a contract to hand to prove that a contract in fact lists very little detail about the job, just expected standards of uniform and behavior.
  4.  “We are not paid for that.” This is essentially an extension of point 3. Don’t get sucked into a asking “What exactly are you paid for?” as this will take you down a blind alley without a Labrador. Ask them who determines the days tasks and duties and when they state the manager (which they will) stand smugly by give and smile a smile of satisfaction.
  5. “I’m a salesman not a cleaner” The genius of using the title of the job as a way of restricting duties. “If my title is sales advisor then I am merely to advise customers in sales!” 20 house-points ding-bat. The best thing a manager could do here would be to count backwards from 10 and then ask the employee to provide examples of job titles that suitably encompassed all of the duties of, say, a manager. Just stand back and watch the wry smile of the worker who realizes they had engage mouth prior to brain.
  6. “In my old job the manager always dealt with the angry customers”. This sentence has a subtle point to make. You, my current manager, are inferior to (insert name) my previous manager. The easiest way to deal with this would be to inform your staff member that his or her previous manager was s**t. This is not, alas, the most tactful of ways to deal with this. “Different strokes for different folks” would be an annoyingly carefree response that will leave your staff member fuming but even better would be “Well, my old employee used to deal with all the angry customers. So there!”

Don’t allow your employees to not take responsibility. Unless they want an angry manager who tears his or her hair out at every opportunity and rants and raves they will need to pick up the slack.


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This entry was posted on October 28, 2012 and is filed under Managing Employees, Training. Written by: . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.