When workplace responsibilities become “coastable”, employees often float under the radar until annual review time and ultimately retirement, all while abandoning their ability to be accountable. That lack of accountability, according to Paul Samulski, “diminishes execution and individual and team performance. It creates and reinforces a culture of blame. While everyone is busy pointing fingers, deadlines don’t get met, work remains below standard, and customers stay dissatisfied.”
When employees don’t take accountability, they complain. It’s everyone’s fault but theirs. They don’t want to do anything, but hate for others to be called upon to help. And when things go wrong and they are questioned, they give the infamous line…
It’s Above My Pay Grade
The ultimate cop out. This phrase makes me want to scream not only because it’s the worse excuse to avoid work and maintain the status quo, but because it’s always followed by a buck being passed. If this employee were denied an opportunity and told, “It’s above your paygrade”, they’d be ready to fight and then sue. But given the opportunity to slither out of working, it so easily flows from the lips.
This is why it’s common to see lower-ranking employees given more access and/or privileges by management than their higher-ranking counterparts because they:
- Are trusted to actually do something with the access or information
- Are willing to learn to get things done while taking chances and being resourceful
- Are ready to take responsibility for their newly acquired skills and duties
Instead of spending so much of our attention on employees suffering from “It’s above my pay grade-itis”, spend more quality time in developing your more energetic and ambitious employees. The ones that will accept the extra assignments and go an extra mile or two or three. The ones that care about accomplishing the office or organizational goals and not just doing enough to cover their butts, collect a check and have health insurance. Either three things will occur with those “itis” stricken employees once the engaged ones begin to get the attention, praise and promotion:
- They will realize that it truly benefits them to buy-in and help the organization or office succeed.
- They will realize that there is no place for that their type of attitude and find employment elsewhere.
- They will continue to whisper, complain and be stagnant, only to end up working FOR the very employee that they once ridiculed and griped about. And if that employee was trained correctly, they will encourage them to come along for the ride or managed them right out of the building.
What Would Happen If…?
What would happen if…employees looked for and asked for tasks or projects that were “above their pay grades”? Our annual reviews would be full of examples and instances where we “Exceeded Expectations” instead of simply “Meeting”. We would build portfolios of skills that would make us more promotable.
What would happen if…managers stop creating and allowing a culture of blame to exist in the workplace? While they take the opportunity to identify and develop the willing talent, they must also create and foster an environment of accountability by not addressing mistakes as faults but manageable opportunities. When managers blame, employees blame. They didn’t start off disgruntled.
What would happen if…we stopped hiding our gifts and talents from our managers for fear of being asked to do more work? If we communicate and embrace our talents, we would more often find ourselves being asked to perform job duties where we operate in our gift….actually enjoying what we are doing! The fulfilling jobs can’t be offered if no one knows that those are where your strengths lie.
“Work for the pay grade you want, not for the one that you’re in.” – Justin L Harris, 2014