That’s Not in My Job Description! How to Navigate Being Assigned Extra Tasks

Being assigned extra tasks that go beyond your job description can be stressful, especially if you are asked to complete additional assignments on a regular basis or you are already feeling overwhelmed by your current workload.

You may be wondering, “Can I say no to my boss or peers when asked to complete additional tasks?” but the answer is not always cut and dry. There is a delicate balance between taking on extra assignments and knowing when you can refuse a new task.

If you are asked to complete an additional task, there are several key factors that should be considered on whether or not you outright accept an assignment, including what is in your actual job description, whether or not you are trained to complete a task, the type of duty you are being asked to perform and your current workload.

Can your employer and peers ask you to do additional tasks?

One of the first questions that you may be asking is whether or not your boss or peers can ask you to take on additional tasks that are outside of your job description. This is a tricky question, as the answer is not always cut and dry.

Do you know the duties that are listed in your job description? Do you have a contract with your employer? If you do have a contract with your employer that is very specific on the duties that you must perform as part of your job, it becomes easier to refuse additional work. Yet even then, your relationship with your boss or peers may suffer, making it important to learn how to juggle additional tasks and when it is important to refuse them.

If the contract with your employer lists anything like “other tasks as needed” or is too vague, you may be required to do just about anything as the need arises. Therefore, it is important to review your contract when you are hired on for a job. If you do not remember what is included in your contract, you can likely ask your company’s HR department for a copy of your contract.

Balancing Additional Tasks, Your Current Workload and Learning When to Say No

Society has made the word “no” a forbidden word in the workplace. You may fear for your job if you were to say no or worry that your peers or boss may not respect you if you refuse a request. While it is probably not always a good idea to say no if you want to be seen as a team player, taking on too many tasks all the time can quickly burn you out and interfere with your actual job duties. Therefore, it is important to learn how to balance your current workload, additional task requests and know when and how to refuse an additional duty.

Be Helpful Without Interfering With Your Own Duties

If you work as part of any type of team in the workplace, assisting your coworkers and taking on additional tasks from time to time is part of your job. Your own success will depend, in part, on the success of your team. The better the team looks, the better each individual team member looks.

Yet you also must complete your own job responsibilities, and sometimes, additional tasks can interfere with that. If you are already swamped with your own projects, it may not be beneficial to take on additional ones, and that is why it is so important to learn when and how to refuse another task that is outside of your own job duties.

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If you are continuously asked by your boss or a team member to perform a specific task that is outside of your own job duties, try to approach the situation in a different way. Outright taking on a task or refusing a task are not your only options in most cases. Instead, you could offer to help once, but mention that you have your own duties that you need to complete and that you cannot take the task on as a full time duty, especially if there is another department that may be better suited for the role.

Consider the Types of Duties You are Being Asked to Perform

If you are asked to perform an additional task at work, it is important to consider the type of task you are being asked to perform. For example, if you are asked to complete a small, additional task or just let in a client when he comes by — that task may not really be worth creating hassle over. However, if you are asked to clean up your boss’s office (and your job does not entail cleaning) then that might be a task that you ought to refuse.

Furthermore, consider whether or not you are trained to perform the task. If the additional task is way out there, it may be better for you to mention to your boss or peer that you are not really trained for the task. This is better than expecting your boss or peers to know the training and skills that you possess. It may simply be an oversight and letting your boss or peer know that you do not have the proper training or equipment will avoid the possibility of you performing the task incorrectly.

When taking on additional tasks, it is important that you are flexible enough to bend a little. An individual who always refuses additional work and does not really “help the team” may be viewed poorly by the rest of the team and supervisors.

Will the extra duties interfere with your primary job?

One of the primary reasons that you should seriously consider refusing an additional task that is assigned to you is if that task will interfere with your actual job responsibilities. If you are already swamped with your own responsibilities, than taking on additional tasks may mean that a task is not completed correctly or by a proposed deadline.

If this is the case, then it is important that you be upfront with your boss and peers. Let them know that you are already overwhelmed by your current workload, especially if you have an important project that will be due soon. Most team members or supervisors will be understanding of this and will ask another individual to take care of the additional task.

What to Say Other Than “That’s Not My Job”

Saying, “That’s not my job” may not always get you the result that you are hoping for, even if the statement is true. This attitude may sometimes help you to avoid additional tasks, but in the long run, it likely will not work forever and it may label you as an individual who is unwilling to be a part of the team, help out or go above and beyond what is required of you.

There are better ways that you can refuse additional tasks, without coming across as rude, lazy or not part of the team. Instead of outright refusing, try explaining that as much as you would like to help out, you do not currently have the time to do so or that you are not trained for the task that is being requested. By being honest with yourself and your peers about your workload and skill set, you will likely receive a more understanding response without the backlash that may occur if you simply state, “That is not my job.”

If you would like to help out on a task, but you are currently working on your own job duties, ask about the timeframe that the job needs to be completed in. You can explain that you would like to help, but that you need to complete some of your own tasks first.

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