Getting the Job Done, Whose Responsibility Is It Everybody, Somebody, Anybody or Nobody?

Wendy Gibbs, Hertfordshire Growth Hub

"This is a story about four people called Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job."


(Author unknown of a condensed version of Charles Osgood poem about taking responsibility.)

The story demonstrates why taking responsibility is important, but also what can and cannot happen when individuals do not have a clear understanding of their responsibilities or do not know what they are in the first place.

Ensuring your employees have job descriptions which outline their responsibilities will provide them with some clarity, but at the same time, you will want to try and avoid an “it’s not my job” mentality.

It is important that employees understand their role, what is required of them and how they contribute to the business. Ensuring that employees understand and undertake their roles often falls to line managers or the business owner/s.

Regular communication between employees, teams and managers also plays a vital role.

Below are 5 points to help you avoid the scenario of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

1) Prepare job descriptions that include key tasks and responsibilities plus the essential and desired skills required to undertake the role. You could also include a footnote stating that the tasks and responsibilities are not all-inclusive and may change at the managers' discretion.

2) If you have a number of employees, look at reporting lines and consider whether you have a sufficient number of managers in place who can communicate effectively with the teams to oversee and keep track of tasks, but equally that employees can refer to.

3) Ensure managers have the necessary skills by developing their leadership and management skills and that employees are also equipped with the skills to complete their role.

4) Provide an up to date organisational chart with clear reporting lines and share this across the company.

5) Encourage regular and open communication between employees and managers to assess progress and performance. This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting so long as it takes place.

The Hertfordshire Growth Hub can provide you with advice and support on the above points as well as access to training, skills development and if available funding to support this.

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