Often, an idle comment made by an employee speaks volumes about their work environment. Consider a message sent via the social networking site Twitter.
This post came from a user who keeps their identity private:
Today’s discovery: “other duties as assigned” translates to “take your crappy compact car out in the terrible weather to pick up pizza for a meeting”
It seems like just about every job description includes the phrase “other duties as assigned.” This is a catch-all used to ensure that employees can be expected to do practically anything that’s needed.
On the one hand, we do want team members to have a sense of ownership and be ready to dive into any task in front of them. But doesn’t including “and anything else we might dream up later” just sound like poor planning?
Our business consultants how job descriptions are the cause of serious problems. But this idle tweet shows that this poor employee is being valued not for their contributions, creativity and insight, but mostly for their ability to complete arbitrary laborious tasks. If “other duties as assigned” included the text “for example, picking up pizza for the office in awful weather”, would this candidate have accepted the job in the first place?
Language is perhaps the most powerful indicator of workplace culture. If we want productive, efficient employees, we must learn to listen to both the content of their messages and the tone with which they speak. Whether we hear workplace productivity frustration on Facebook or just muttered at the water cooler, they present opportunity to make a positive change to the environment. Listening is the foundation to a satisfying and effective workplace.