Role Clarity and “That’s Not My Job”

If you're hearing "that's not my job," it's a good time to think about role clarity and accountability.

By Chally Kacelnik

“That’s not my job” is one of those loaded sentences.

On the one hand, it can conjure an image of someone sitting back nonchalantly while their colleagues pick up the slack of whatever needs doing, because they think they can. On the other hand, it can be a powerful statement that sets boundaries. Pushing back on work that is genuinely not a part of your role to prevent being overloaded or people taking advantage is a good and necessary thing.

Role clarity, and holding people to account for the work of their role, comes at this from both sides. Leaders should aim to enable their reports to answer what we call the three questions:

  • What is expected of me and why?
  • How am I going?
  • What is my future?

People who can answer these questions are better able to get a manageable and sufficient amount of work done that’s matched to their skills and organisational expectations. When everyone’s in the same position, it’s easy to determine who should be doing what. This also creates some breathing room so people are able to put their hand up to pick up slack and get things done. If people are held to account for the work of their role, good boundaries are reinforced and poor behaviour gets managed.

If you’re hearing “that’s not my job,” it’s a good time to think about role clarity and accountability.

At LKS Quaero, we support organisations with effective work design. For more information, visit us at or follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.