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High Performance: Why it’s ‘not my job,’ until it is

November 9, 2021 -  By

Most people would agree that the mentality of “it’s not my job” should have no place in our organizations. Yet, this mentality is very much alive and well. Not only that, but it often presents itself in the worst possible areas of recruiting and retention. Let me explain.

(Photo: / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

(Photo: / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

When we’re recruiting, we expect people in the job market to have a basic set of skills, learned through a combination of familial, educational and social experiences. The problem today is that many families are not intact, many schools have lost their way and our society is more dysfunctional than ever. The experiences of a young adult today are drastically different than those of a young adult only a short time ago. And many young adults are entering the job market woefully ill-equipped, lacking basic skills. 

These are generalizations of course. There are lots of great parents, families, schools, teachers, professors, neighbors and others in society that have poured themselves into the next generation. There are wonderful young adults hitting the job market with skills far exceeding mine or anyone from my generation. They do exist. But that’s not my point. My point is that the baseline has dropped significantly. There have always been high achievers. There hasn’t always been a massive workforce lacking basic skills to function in a job. 

The solution

The question becomes what to do about it. One approach is to say “it’s not my job” to do what parents, teachers and society failed to do. This approach seems to be the mainstream approach. I say this because I don’t see much of a commitment to remedial training and development from organizations today. Again, I feel compelled to say that some organizations are doing a great job in this area. But I see the majority of organizations that have not moved in this direction at all and have no intentions of doing so, despite ongoing labor shortages. 

A better approach is to have compassion on those who have been failed by the adults in their lives through no fault of their own. Recognize that there will be challenges and that they will need support to get through each step. Recruiting cannot be done like it used to be. On-boarding looks different than it ever has. Employee engagement and development have never meant more. 

It’s not my job until it is. Whether we like it or not, helping young adults develop basic skills to function in a job is an employer’s job. The sooner we understand this, embrace it as an opportunity and make requisite changes, the more effectively we will be able to recruit and retain the next generation. 

Now go forth.

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Phil Harwood

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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