You Can’t Make Someone Do Her Job


simple gingerbread cookie decoratingYears ago, I worked with a chick named Melanie. She was a serious HR generalist who loved human resources. And she loved her job.

But she was swamped with shitty work.

Her client group, based in New Jersey, had a high rate of turnover. She had a million open requisitions. And we were using Peoplesoft 8, which meant that Mel was recruiting out of a paper bag.

It was ugly.

Melanie’s biggest challenge? Scheduling interviews.

“You try locking down a candidate to meet with multiple VPs, directors and a ton of peers and colleagues.”

No way.

And frankly, I told her that it wasn’t her job to schedule the interviews. It was a waste of time. I said, “Where the heck are the administrative assistants? Get their help.”

Melanie said, “They won’t do it. I’ve been told, ‘I don’t work in human resources. It’s not my job.'”

So I told her, “F that. Whip out their job descriptions. Highlight the part where it says ‘calendar management’. Then write them up for not doing their jobs.”

Melanie said. “No, I’m going to make an Admin Toolkit.”

What’s an Admin Toolkit? Well, it’s basically a 2006-version Microsoft Word document that tells your secretary how to schedule an interview. There are four steps. They involve using Microsoft Outlook.

I said, “Why don’t you bake them some cookies and give them a pedicure, too?”

But Melanie made her toolkit. And you know it was a flop.

In retrospect, I wish I would have advised her to eat crow. Hiring a great candidate — and then using that excellent experience to draw department-wide attention to process-related scheduling problems — would have been the right way to handle the problem of lazy administrative assistants. But Melanie ended up quitting her job out of frustration.

And no one got any cookies, either.

That’s a shame.

You can’t make someone do her job. But you can do yours by playing the long game and going ‘above and beyond’ when everyone else is taking the easy way out.

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