How to Professionally Say “Do Your Job” | 5 Tips Added

Effectively communicating expectations in the workplace can be challenging. Many supervisors resort to vague directives or blunt demands rather than clearly stating their needs. This often results in confusion, frustration, and reduced productivity from employees.

The key is learning how to professionally and constructively tell someone to “do their job” in a way that motivates rather than deflates. This involves understanding their role, providing context, focusing on the work rather than the person, asking questions, and following up respectfully. 

Employees who feel valued, understood, and supported tend to have higher job satisfaction and perform better. By following some simple guidelines, any manager can learn to professionally and positively reinforce their expectations so that employees fully understand their duties and responsibilities. Read on to learn actionable tips for productively telling someone to “do their job.”

How to Professionally Say Do Your Job
Do Your Job

How To Tell A Coworker To Do Their Job In A Polite And Professional Way?

Here are the 10 steps to say ‘do your job’ in a professional way:

Step 1: Choose a good spot to tell it: Have the conversation privately in a comfortable setting without distractions. Say “Maggie, could we find a quiet spot to discuss some work items? I want to ensure I have your full attention.”

Step 2: Approach and maintain the conversation with a calm and positive tone: Keep a friendly, caring tone.  Say “I wanted to chat because I value your contributions and want to see you succeed.” Smile and focus on resolving issues vs accusing.

Step 3: Use “I” statements: Use “I” to express how unfinished work affects you and the team, not attack the person. Say “I’ve noticed some tasks incomplete recently which impacts my ability to finish reports relying on your data.”

Step 4: Be specific: Clearly highlight exactly which tasks need more focus, using recent examples. Say “The sales contact tracker was not updated this month. Without accurate names, I can’t effectively cold call prospects.”

Step 5: Explain the impact: Help them grasp how lagging tasks create bottlenecks. Say “When data is incomplete, it hinders other teams’ work, delays progress, and jeopardizes goals.” Share exactly who and what is affected.

Step 6: Make sure that they are clarified and understood: Ask if they need any clarification or training on expectations to prevent future lag. Say “Do you fully understand what completing the tracker requires? Should we review to ensure you have what’s needed?”

Step 7: Allow them to explain their perspective: Encourage them share their viewpoint on struggles. Say “I want to fully understand what makes completing the tracker challenging. Please walk me through what obstacles you’re facing so we can find solutions.”

Step 8: Set clear expectations: State explicitly what tasks must improve, by when, in what quantity or quality. Say “Moving ahead, I’ll need the sales tracker fully updated each Friday before week’s end to enable swift outreach planning.”

Step 9: Highlight their ability to do the job: Praise existing capabilities so they feel empowered to improve. Say “I’ve seen you efficiently handle detailed reports in the past, so I know you have skills to consistently execute the tracker.”

Step 10: End with a positive note: Conclude expressing optimism and willingness to keep communicating. Say “By openly discussing this now, I’m confident we’ll get back on track. My door stays open, so keep me posted on your progress or any other needs!

Tips to Avoid Saying ‘Do Your Job’

Here are some ways you can avoid saying ‘Do your job’ to your employees.

Tip #1: Clarify Role, Responsibilities, and Priorities

1. Clearly Define the Job Role

Before telling someone to “do their job,” first ensure that their job responsibilities are well-defined. According to a Society for Human Resource Management survey, only 57% of organizations have clearly written job descriptions for all roles. Without an understanding of core duties, stating expectations becomes challenging. Meet with the employee to discuss:

  • Primary objectives and metrics tied to the success
  • Essential functions and responsibilities
  • Key stakeholders depended upon

Provide documentation so expectations are clear. An employee cannot “do their job” if the job is not expressly laid out.

2. Explain Role Context and Impact

Simply listing task responsibilities is insufficient—provide context around why the role matters. Employees are 5x more engaged when they understand how their work impacts the company’s mission and objectives.

Discuss how the employee’s contributions influence departmental and organizational success. Share the big-picture vision, priorities, and company values so they see the bigger purpose behind their daily work.

3. Set Priorities and Goals

While an employee may have a long list of responsibilities, not all hold equal importance at once. Departmental needs and business priorities shift constantly in a dynamic work environment.

Rather than broadly insisting someone “do their job,” set clear short and long-term goals and priorities tied to overarching business objectives. Ensure they align attention and efforts to the most mission-critical activities needing completion. Review priorities frequently and revisit goals as needs evolve.

Tip #2: Offer Ongoing Support

Telling someone vaguely to “do their job” not only fails to communicate specific expectations but also provides little support in helping them succeed. Effective leaders enable employee performance in their role.

1. Provide Adequate Resources

Confirm employees have sufficient physical and technological resources, training, materials, budget, etc. to realistically achieve the expectations discussed. If observing poor or inadequate performance, assess whether appropriate resources are available versus simply admonishing them to “do their job.”

2. Share Relevant Information

Do employees have sufficient background information and context to make educated, aligned decisions while working independently? Share details like:

  • Departmental or project history
  • Performance metrics and dashboards
  • Customer interview findings
  • Competitor benchmarking data

The richness of information provided influences the quality of their output.

3. Offer Ongoing Feedback

Rather than waiting for formal performance evaluations, have regular one-on-one meetings to discuss executed responsibilities, align on blockers, and provide ongoing praise and constructive feedback. Consistent collaboration significantly boosts employee productivity.

Tip #3: Focus on the Work, Not the Person

Saying “Just do your job” often comes across as a personal attack rather than a pragmatic request to complete a business deliverable. Shift focus to the work output itself so conversations remain constructive, not emotional.

1. Outline Expected Deliverables

Rather than criticizing an employee’s competency, clearly outline specific projects, reports, campaigns, presentations, etc. needing completion by certain dates. Providing defined deliverables and timing removes subjective generalizations about their overall ability.

2. Assess Work Objectively

If an employee fails to complete deliverables sufficiently, critique the actual work output itself, not the individual. Maintain an emotionally detached, professional tone focused solely on business needs rather than making character judgments.

3. Voice Support, Not Blame

While work may require further development, convey ongoing belief in the employee’s fundamental capabilities. Blame and shame breed defensiveness and resentment rather than inspiration to improve. Express willingness to further mentor their professional growth.

Tip #4: Ask Constructive Questions

Simply telling people what to do triggers resistance and disengagement. Ask thoughtful questions instead to uncover root issues influencing subpar job performance.

Consider asking:

  • What challenges are you currently facing in completing your work?
  • What information or resources could further support task completion?
  • How can I assist in setting you up for ongoing success in your role?

Discuss obstacles openly without judgment. Assume positive intent and demonstrate genuine care for their needs. Develop an action plan addressing raised concerns and commit to regular check-ins on progress.

Tip #5: Set Professional Boundaries

While having an open, caring management style is optimal—leaders must firmly reinforce workplace expectations and professional boundaries if duties remain unmet over extended periods despite support.

Proactively meet if responsibilities continually fall below acceptable thresholds. Remain calm and stick to facts. Revisit defined deliverables they committed to execute. Ask what they specifically intend to do to course correct rather than demanding generic “improvement.”

State clear consequences and define a probation period if no changes occur by X date. While understanding personal challenges faced, focus on business necessity. Firmly yet compassionately assert that certain work must be completed for employment continuance.

Why it’s important to say “This is not my job”

While employees should aim to be team players and support colleagues where possible, it’s important to set boundaries and clarify responsibilities. Saying “this is not my job” professionally and constructively can:

  • Prevent overburdening and employee burnout
  • Ensure tasks are assigned to those with the proper expertise
  • Allow employees to focus time/energy on core duties
  • Hold all team members accountable

Taking on tasks beyond one’s role too frequently can decrease quality, reduce productivity, and undermine morale. Respectfully declining additional work preserves work-life balance.

Bonus Tip: 100+ Professional ways to say do it yourself or do your job or it is your responsibility

Here are 100+ polite yet clear ways to indicate tasks fall within the other person’s remit:

  1. This task falls within your area. Please prioritize its completion.
  2. Kindly own this deliverable end-to-end yourself.
  3. I trust you can handle this independently.
  4. This responsibility lies with you per our roles.
  5. Please take the lead on this yourself.
  6. You are accountable for driving this forward.
  7. I know you can tackle this solo!
  8. This project needs your leadership.
  9. It’s best if you manage this yourself.
  10. You are the expert here, so I’ll let you handle it.
  11. Could I ask you to spearhead this?
  12. Have confidence in your skills and work independently.
  13. Don’t hesitate to move forward autonomously.
  14. I encourage you to take full initiative.
  15. The ball is in your court on this one!
  16. You have my full trust to deliver this yourself.
  17. No need for me to hover on this task!
  18. You know what you’re doing – I believe in you.
  19. Take the reins and demonstrate your capabilities.
  20. This is in your wheelhouse more than mine.
  21. I know your strengths suit this task well.
  22. Take ownership from start to finish.
  23. Rest assured that this aligns with your role.
  24. What aspects will you tackle solo vs. collaboratively?
  25. Don’t wait for me – have confidence in driving forward.
  26. Lean into your skills and handle them independently.
  27. I’ll let you call the shots on execution.
  28. Show your leadership abilities by owning this.
  29. You have full autonomy on how to reach the goal.
  30. Use your best discretion on how to proceed.
  31. The responsibility lies entirely with you.
  32. You are fully equipped to manage solo.
  33. My input here should be minimal—it’s all you!
  34. How will you move this ahead on your own steam?
  35. I know you perform best without hand-holding.
  36. You have leeway on how best to deliver this.
  37. This is firmly within your domain.
  38. My role is simply to stay updated, not steer efforts.
  39. You lead, I will follow your cues.
  40. Define the path on this vs. waiting for guidance.
  41. What support do you need if any vs. driving solo?
  42. You have room to flex your muscles here.
  43. I’ll leave you fully accountable. Keep me posted!
  44. You own this completely and are an expert.
  45. It’s all within your control from end to end.
  46. Use your specialized skills to knock this out of the park!
  47. Have confidence in yourself as the leader on this.
  48. My role is to observe not participate here.
  49. You know the material best. Guide decisions confidently!
  50. You possess the capabilities and background needed.
  51. This resides firmly within your jurisdiction.
  52. You call the shots on how this proceeds.
  53. Consider me hands-off unless guidance is needed.
  54. You know what success looks like. Make it happen!
  55. Use your discretion on execution without waiting for input.
  56. You have the green light to put your expertise into play.
  57. The buck stops with you on this.
  58. Have faith in yourself steering this solo.
  59. It’s your show—follow your instincts and training.
  60. Make forward progress without waiting for others’ input.
  61. You know the drill – handle it diligently please.
  62. The baton is fully in your hands on this one.
  63. You are the player, I’m the coach if guidance is needed.
  64. Empower yourself to drive this the last mile.
  65. How will you push this across the finish line yourself?
  66. My role is backup. You lead the charge confidently.
  67. You’ve got all the tools and talent necessary in spades!
  68. My input would just slow you down, so charge ahead!
  69. Own both decisions and outcomes confidently.
  70. I’m simply here to lend an ear if you hit snags.
  71. You have complete jurisdiction in this domain.
  72. Consider me an advisor – you lead completely.
  73. You’re the general of this army. March forward firmly!
  74. Put on your leader hat and grab the reins solo.
  75. My full faith lies in you helping this. Soar high!
  76. Consider me your biggest cheerleader only.
  77. You steer the ship completely. I’m just a passenger!
  78. You’ve trained for glory, now claim the victory confidently!
  79. My role is simply to clap loudly as you cross the finish line.
  80. You wield the power here from driving strategy to execution.
  81. Consider this your baby – feed and nurture it accordingly!
  82. You’re point guard – direct play confidently without waiting for passes.
  83. Consider me a consultant offering perspective when sought not mandates.
  84. You possess the right background and skills muscle for this task.
  85. My job is strictly to admire not guide efforts!
  86. You lead, I follow only – have utter faith in your direction.
  87. You know your strengths. Leverage them fully without hesitation!
  88. You have the green light to go pedal to the metal solo.
  89. Consider my input sprinkles, not cake here – you’re the baker!
  90. You own both the glory and the hot seat completely on this one.
  91. Consider me simply a cheerleader from the sidelines!
  92. You define the path and make all big calls – own it!
  93. Think of me as a sounding board only should you hit rough patches.
  94. You’re the subject matter expert – rule your kingdom with confidence!
  95. Consider my input merely side commentary, not play-by-play guidance.
  96. Think of me as a consultant offering perspective only when requested.
  97. You know the terrain and hold the map – lead the expedition feeling empowered!
  98. You possess all you need to successfully reach the summit solo!
  99. My role is simply to help you celebrate upon successful arrival!
  100. You wield full power and responsibility here – embrace it boldly knowing I’ve got your back!


Avoiding vague, aggressive demands like “do your job” is crucial to motivating employee performance. Clearly define responsibilities, support professional growth through engaged leadership, and uphold accountability tied to business objectives. Employees want to succeed—provide clear expectations paired with empathy and resources to optimize productivity. Approach underperformance with curiosity, not criticism, and model human leadership.


Q: Is It Ever OK to Bluntly Tell An Employee to “Do Your Job”?

A: No, vague demands often backfire, causing resentment rather than motivation. Clearly define expectations, ask clarifying questions, and focus on specific unmet work duties vs criticizing character.

Q: What If Excessive Support And Empathy Leads To Employees Taking Advantage?

A: It’s crucial to balance compassion with professional boundaries. If reasonable support is provided but duties remain unmet, enforce consequences clearly tied to measurable work objectives.

Q: How Can I Tell If An Employee Is Struggling Due To Unclear Expectations Vs Pure Laziness?

A: Have frequent check-ins on their challenges and progress. Assess whether they have sufficient training, resources, and mentorship before assuming positive intent. Evaluate work more than workers.

Q: What If An Employee Performs Well At Individual Tasks But Struggles to see the Bigger Picture?

A: Explain how their role ladders up to departmental and company goals. Connect the dots on why their work matters and how it impacts others. Lack of context causes apathy.

Q: Should I Tailor My Leadership Style When Issues Arise Or Be Consistent?

A: Strive to be consistently empathetic and constructive even during conflicts. Adjust the degree of boundary setting and accountability conversations as needed, not overall demeanor.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top