Just Doing Their Jobs

Ignore It, and It Won't Go Away

Kossoff commonly sees not-my-job resistance in the Silicon Valley companies she works with. Often entrepreneurs ignore the problem, especially if the not-my-jobber holds a position that's seen as critical to the company's success. "The entrepreneur thinks, 'We can't get this person to do more, so we'll leave him alone,'" Kossoff says.

When management decides to turn a blind eye on slackers, however, it loses credibility with other employees, who may feel the not-my-jobber is getting away with something. "It really hurts retention," Stewart says.

If you've got a not-my-jobber on staff, start a discussion today. This is like any other performance problem, Topchik says, and most of these employees will improve their attitudes after talking it over. Those who don't usually leave on their own after the game's up. A conversation will also help you adjust individual job performance expectations so employees feel encouraged to contribute in ways they wouldn't otherwise.

At Hyland Software, communication has had an impact not only on attitudes and morale, but on sales as well, which are expected to reach about $30 million this year. "It's like night and day," Hyland says. "It's so much better now."

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.

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This article was originally published in the August 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: <I>Just</I> Doing Their Jobs.

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