Author Topic: Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle? UPDATE #14  (Read 8775 times)

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jpcher

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle? UPDATE #14
« on: December 19, 2012, 08:02:57 PM »
Unfortunately I'll have to handle this situation tomorrow so I won't have a lot of your input as to how I should handle it before it happens. I just want (and really appreciate) your thoughts.

Someone (Gail) in our department is retiring through a voluntary layoff program. Since it is technically a layoff there are no plans to replace her so her tasks need to be distributed amongst the rest of us.

I am a graphic designer. Gail is not.

During my annual review yesterday Boss told me of a particular simple task that she would like for me to take on. I agreed, it's really quite simple and since there is some graphic design involved (which I've provided for Gail in the past) it's just taking it to the production level. Sigh. No biggie. Go Team.

I was scheduled to have an instructional 30-minute meeting with Gail and Boss today. Gail was busy and rescheduled. I thought the meeting was rescheduled for tomorrow, but Gail and Boss showed up at my cube at a crucial time (deadline!)

I apologized because I misread the date on the meeting notice, looked at Boss and asked "This or That? Your call." Boss said stay on that.



Here's where the blindsided part comes in . . . Gail told me to reschedule at my convenience tomorrow but plan for more than an hour because not only does this involve simple task but it includes major big task that I will be taking over and is quite difficult to explain.

I looked at Boss as she turned around and headed out the door.

Wait! What?  :o

I'm furious because Gail was the one that told me that I needed training on major big task. I'm all over angry because this task does not fit anywhere in my realm of graphic design.

And boss had the nerve! To walk away!

Like I said, I had a crucial deadline (along with the need to leave on-time today so OT wasn't an option) so I got busy with my task and didn't address the situation. I left it with Gail that I would schedule a meeting tomorrow.


I need to talk to Boss tomorrow and let her know that there is no way, no how I am willing to take on major big task that really has nothing to do with my job description.

PLUS! (I know, anti-meeting me ::)) doesn't have time for an hour+ meeting in order to meet the deadlines that I already have.

(Two weeks ago I informed my Boss of personal commitments that I have which will not allow me to work OT for the next couple of days. Boss was fine with this.)



What is the business-polite way to handle this situation? Am I allowed to refuse taking on the extra major big task?
« Last Edit: December 20, 2012, 06:24:08 PM by jpcher »

Surianne

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2012, 08:11:43 PM »
I would approach this first off as a clarification question.  Boss hasn't told you you're taking on Big Task -- only Gail, a retiring coworker, has.  So I'd ask Boss what you're being requested to take on, before jumping to "I won't take it on" -- just in case the situation has been misinterpreted by Gail. 

Other posters will probably give you better advice for handling it from there...but I think clarifying, without any assumptions, is an important first step.

camlan

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2012, 08:17:24 PM »
What I would do is first thing in the morning request a meeting with Boss, and just Boss. Use the meeting to ask about the other task, and to explain why you can't do it, if necessary. Also tell Boss that a one-hour meeting isn't happening, unless Boss approves an extension of your deadline. But then, a one-hour meeting shouldn't be necessary, because you are only doing the one little, related task you agreed to.

As regards the large, unrelated task--if Boss insists that you take it, you then list all the reasons why it is a bad idea: you don't know anything about it, you have a full schedule of work already and would need to neglect that work and miss deadlines in order to learn new task, and if new task is to be yours permanently, then one of your current tasks must be given to someone else.

I'd also make the point that you should not have learned about this through Gail.

Sadly, the bottom line is that you might be forced to take on this work. But you should then make sure that Boss gives you very, very clear priorities for your work, so that when the new task means that you miss deadlines, you refer any complaints to Boss.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


PastryGoddess

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2012, 10:15:02 PM »
Can you wrangle a pay raise or extra benefits if you take on this big huge task?  Would this task in any way, shape or, form help you move up to the next level in your job?

I do agree that you need to talk to Boss to get clarification.  If Gail is wrong, when she comes to have her 1+ hour long meeting you can inform her of the fact that you only need to know about little task and big task will be taken on by someone else.

CaptainObvious

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 11:01:40 PM »
First of all, I wouldn't refuse to do anything. While this new task may have nothing to do with your current job description, it doesn't mean that you won't be required to do it.
Job descriptions and responsibilities change, and everyone has to be flexible. Your co-worker took a voluntary lay-off, there is no guarantee there won't be more. Myself, I wouldn't want to take the chance of painting a bulls-eye on my back.


Slartibartfast

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2012, 11:35:11 PM »
"Hey boss, got a sec?  When we talked I said I could take on SmallTask, but yesterday Gail seemed to indicate she needed at least an hour of my time today to train me on BigTask.  Did you intend for me to take that on?"  Make your boss tell you "yes" directly before you start in on a counter-argument: "I wish you had mentioned that to me when we talked before.  I am fine with SmallTask because it deals with graphic design and it does fall within my skill set, but BigTask doesn't have anything to do with the work I'm already doing and - quite frankly - I'm already swamped and under deadline.  If you don't have anyone else to take on BigTask and you're truly stuck I'll do it, but I'm going to have to cut back on something else because I just don't have enough hours in the day to get my other projects done [name some things that are part of your normal job specifically] AND to do BigTask.  Also, Gail said it would take more than an hour to train me on BigTask, but if I take an hour to do that today, this CurrentProject is not going to be done by the deadline.  Is there someone else she could train in BigTask?"

If your boss says everyone is swamped, you could maybe agree to take on some small task someone else already does (try to think of something graphic design related, or at least something specific to suggest!) and hint that maybe that person could do BigTask and you could do their little task instead.  Don't outright refuse to do BigTask, but make it very clear that something's gotta give and if your boss wants you to do BigTask, he/she needs to also give you permission to let something else drop.

oceanus

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2012, 11:38:28 PM »
First of all, I wouldn't refuse to do anything. While this new task may have nothing to do with your current job description, it doesn't mean that you won't be required to do it.
Job descriptions and responsibilities change, and everyone has to be flexible. Your co-worker took a voluntary lay-off, there is no guarantee there won't be more. Myself, I wouldn't want to take the chance of painting a bulls-eye on my back.

Unfortunately (for OP) I have to agree.  Also, most job descriptions have the phrase "and other duties as required" for situations such as this.

OP - does Boss have a habit of "walking away" instead of facing a problem and dealing with it?

Anyway, sorry this happened and hope it gets straightened out tomorrow.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 11:40:11 PM by oceanus »

thedudeabides

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2012, 07:51:00 AM »
You work at a company that is asking people to lay themselves off.  That means that involuntary layoffs may be a next step.  At this time, I would not suggest doing something that has the possibility to label yourself as a candidate for the chopping block.  No one is indispensable to an office.

What I would do is go to Boss and say, "Gail has asked for an hour meeting so she can train me on X.  How do you want me to reprioritize my other deadlines, because there isn't time to do the training and do everything else that's due today?  I'm willing to do X, but I need to schedule a meeting with you for this week or next so we can go over all my duties and reprioritize them appropriately so that all deadlines get met."

Then at the meeting with the boss, say that you're willing to take this on for the next six months or a year, but at that time you would like to approach the idea of either handing it off to someone else or having it officially written into your job description and have pay adjusted accordingly if that's possible.

onyonryngs

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2012, 09:57:29 AM »
She told you in front of your boss.  If Boss had a problem with it, she would've spoken up at that time.  I think it's a very bad business decision to complain about having to pitch in when people are being laid off.  No one is irreplaceable and there are people willing and waiting to do the work at probably a lower pay scale.  Now is not the time to complain.

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2012, 10:17:49 AM »
If that's the kind of culture you are dealing with, you might want to update you resume and run far, far away. I have worked in a place where workload is redistributed amongst fewer people until they break. You don't want to be broken.
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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2012, 10:40:26 AM »
I have to agree w/ the PPs saying that it's probably for the best to avoid being seen as a complainer, especially if there are layoffs. I don't know what your company is like, but at mine, graphic designers are marketing services (i.e., not money-makers) and are therefore more vulnerable to layoffs. I am in services as well and try to make myself as valuable as possible so that I don't get cut. TBH, I generally try to take a positive approach regarding new challenges—it makes burnout less likely.
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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2012, 10:46:58 AM »
"Hey boss, got a sec?  When we talked I said I could take on SmallTask, but yesterday Gail seemed to indicate she needed at least an hour of my time today to train me on BigTask.  Did you intend for me to take that on?"  Make your boss tell you "yes" directly before you start in on a counter-argument: "I wish you had mentioned that to me when we talked before.  I am fine with SmallTask because it deals with graphic design and it does fall within my skill set, but BigTask doesn't have anything to do with the work I'm already doing and - quite frankly - I'm already swamped and under deadline.  If you don't have anyone else to take on BigTask and you're truly stuck I'll do it, but I'm going to have to cut back on something else because I just don't have enough hours in the day to get my other projects done [name some things that are part of your normal job specifically] AND to do BigTask.  Also, Gail said it would take more than an hour to train me on BigTask, but if I take an hour to do that today, this CurrentProject is not going to be done by the deadline.  Is there someone else she could train in BigTask?"

If your boss says everyone is swamped, you could maybe agree to take on some small task someone else already does (try to think of something graphic design related, or at least something specific to suggest!) and hint that maybe that person could do BigTask and you could do their little task instead.  Don't outright refuse to do BigTask, but make it very clear that something's gotta give and if your boss wants you to do BigTask, he/she needs to also give you permission to let something else drop.

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Girly

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2012, 11:33:16 AM »
I'm the accountant for a large organization.

Recently, one of the Admin Asst's left her position to work for herself. This position was not replaced, and her duties were distributed to the rest of us, including me.

At no time did I even think to say 'that's not part of my job description', I just said 'ok'.

I work with a lot of non-profits, and a lot of them are my clients. There's no way in the world I would want anyone to think I was difficult to work with, or would ONLY do XXX task.

For a company that is asking people to voluntarily retire, I would be even less likely to balk at taking on a couple of extra tasks.

Only me

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2012, 01:29:33 PM »
Hi

Everyone's got a different opinion. I agree clarification is necessary and find out what's up with boss not telling you. It sounds like he deliberately didn't tell you (you said he just walked away).

Girly, To your point that sometimes you just have to "Suck it up" yes sometimes you do, however to Jpcher sometimes you don't. My situation is the same. We have two dedicated teams at work A & B, each with different duties. Team B does cold calling, gets a sale and then hands over the customer to Team A (3 people). I was asked to help out with cold calling cause Team B was busy and said yes but only to people who asked for help over our website (they are usually small client and easy calls). Then Management decided that I should do cold calling also as part of my job and Team B thought it was a great idea.
And why did they, cause I would have ended up doing all the work and they would have gotten the glory and extra pay. I was to receive absolutely no compensation for the extra work, or no reductions in work load. I reminded my boss that I can off Team B over 2 years ago because I prefer and am better at what I do, pointed out all the bad stuff. I had the choice to "Suck it up" or quit, so I sucked it up for 2 months and brought it up again. We had to prove Team A & B doing the same job didn't work and there was lots of over lap, blah, blah, blah, I stopped cold calling and am much happier.

Jpcher, it sounds like something like asking you to file and told you it would take a hour a month. No problem maybe a nice break. Then when you were supposed to train you were being told that you had to take on the whole filing system and be responsible for it company wide. Not your job as it should fall under Admin, not Graphic Design.

Anyways let us know how it goes, I will be interested in hearing what happens.

Onlyme

jpcher

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Re: I was blindsided . . . how to handle? UPDATE #14
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2012, 06:23:34 PM »
I want to thank everybody for their responses.

What a difference a day makes.

I probably should mention that Gail is not direct-report to Boss. But since there is only one Gail doing certain tasks, BigBoss asked Boss to redistribute Gails tasks.*

Boss came into my cube this morning and just stood there.

I looked at her and smiled. She smiled back. I said "Oh. I guess you want me to talk first?" She said "Yeah. I wish you would."

I told her that I didn't appreciate being told by Gail that I will be training for BigTask. That came as quite a surprise. I wish that you and I could have had a conversation about it before hand.

Boss said "Okay. I understand that. What do you think about taking on BigTask?"

I told her that I felt BigTask was really outside of my job description. I said "You know my work ethic. You set my priorities. You know that since John (other retiree/graphic designer) is also leaving that I will probably be working extra OT just to meet the additional graphic design deadlines. Plus, BigTask is a headache (I've helped out with BigTask before) that I have no desire to take on."

Boss thanked me for my input and told me that she just wanted to get a take on how I felt about BigTask. That's why she wanted me to talk first.

Apparently she, too, was blindsided. That's why she walked away yesterday.

So, it was left at Boss setting up a meeting with Gail tomorrow afternoon (Gail's last day) so that Boss can learn the ins-and-outs of BigTask. She said that my deadline takes precedence but if I could, please, try to be at the meeting.

She then told me that BigTask will not be solely my responsibility. She needs to figure out a way to distribute BigTask amongst everybody but she would appreciate a "second head."

I told her that I would gladly come in early again tomorrow morning (5am really hurts, but I can't stay late) just to wrap things up in time for the meeting.

So all in all, did I do okay?



*BigBoss was very much against allowing Gail to take the voluntary because she knew that it would take a fight with HR to replace someone that had been laid off but Gail was close to retirement age so HR let her take it. Our department was not slated for lay-offs.