In a busy office of a multi-location company there was a minor issue with a piece of desktop equipment that needed to be moved to a different location within the same office.
The office manager phoned the maintenance person who was at another location at that time, asking him to come and move it. The maintenance person said it would be some time before he could get there and suggested the manager move it because it would only take a moment to unplug the device, pick it up (it was the size and weight of a toaster), move it, and plug it in to a nearby electrical outlet. The manager curtly said, “That’s not my job!” and hung up.
Well, moving equipment might not be in the manager’s job description, but neither is picking up a piece of paper off the floor that missed the waste basket, answering a ringing phone when the primary phone answerer is on another line or taking on additional responsibilities when someone is out of the office.
While a job description describes a person’s primary responsibilities, it can’t list all possible situations, contingencies or needs. The description should be subservient to the mission of the company and there should be a sentence or two in everyone’s job description that states that every thing a person is qualified to do is, ultimately, your job as long as the new task doesn’t keep them from doing their primary responsibilities.
Obviously that doesn’t mean that a bookkeeper in a hospital can be pressed into service in the operating room (certainly not qualified), but the bookkeeper should be willing and able to step in where they are qualified and there is a need to get the job done when the primary responsible person is unavailable.
In the case in question, the task would have probably taken less time and effort to do it than it took for the manager to make that phone call for a such a silly and unproductive reason. Ultimately, everything you are qualified to do in a business is your job.