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How to Deal With the Words "It’s Not My Job"

By Randy Hall

Last updated: October 11, 2022

How to handle it's not my job veterinary team

One of the most telling things I hear when working with employees in a practice is, “that’s not my job.” It’s one of the sentences that drives supervisors completely nuts. Managers interpret this as, “I don’t care about the practice. I’m just here for the paycheck.”

Often though, we train people to think that way and then reward them for doing it. Usually this is not on purpose, but we reinforce it with the language we use and our relationship with employees. Even during the interview process, we focus on the job duties and performance measures. 

But what if we focused on a different conversation as we talked to both prospective employees and current ones?

Here are some of the conversations that need to happen if we want people to think about their jobs differently.

Your job is to make us better.

If you work here, understand that your value is determined by whether you make us better as a practice. 

This means that you cause change where we need it, challenge the status quo if we can improve it, and are part of how solutions happen here. It means rather than complaining, you solve. Rather than dragging others down, you push them upward. And you leave at the end of the day feeling like you made a difference, not just did a job.

Your attitude and influence are your greatest skills.

You influence the people around you. Make sure that this influence is positive. The attitude you bring to your work is much of what makes you successful here.

We can teach you how to do the tasks your job requires. However, it is harder for us to make you a positive, engaging, motivated individual. Although we strive to have leaders and teammates who help you do that every day, ultimately, it’s your choice. 

And we expect you to make a good choice as part of this team.

Results matter. And how you get there matters too.

Yes. You have to learn the tasks associated with your job and execute them well. That’s an entry level requirement to be part of our practice. We will help you get there and we expect you to work with us to make that happen quickly.

Equally important is that you approach your work in a way that raises the bar for us. We want you to be competitive about the quality and effectiveness you bring to your work. We want you to communicate in ways that make all of us think differently about how to improve our work habits and constantly help us evaluate new ways to achieve success.


Leaders need to help people reach their potential and create an environment in which people can grow and develop. Although you may have employees who complete the tasks associated with their roles, this alone will never cause success. In fact, this will guarantee mediocrity.

Change the conversation with your people and you will change the choices they make as part of your team.

What do you think?
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