Author Topic: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague  (Read 4224 times)

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hajisaurus

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Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« on: January 14, 2014, 08:49:21 AM »
At work, all (4) the people in my department are considered on the same level (no one is anyone else's superior), and we all report to the same boss. Last month, my colleague who is a procrastinator and generally lazy when it comes to her own tasks, decided to use an intermediary (who does not work in our department) to "assign" me a task related to an ongoing monthly educational feature our group puts on. It was literally given to me as I was walking in the door to the presentation, (which I didn't have to give), where this person informed me I would be named for this task formally in front of the group in the next few minutes.

I was shocked and didn't really understand what she was talking about. So I just laughed it off as one of those awkward things and took my seat. When the talk began (which they decided to do from their seats in the middle of the row of tables rather than go to the front of the room - another weird thing that showed how clearly this month's presentation was NOT planned out in any way), they eventually did mention the task in more detail, and slowly came to the realization that I was being assigned something that was way outside of my usual duties, that would involve a huge consumption of my time, and was something that would be rather difficult to make an accurate assessment since it was a subjective task at best. Frankly, this would fall under the PA colleague's duties, based on her title and job description and her territoriality regarding this presentation previously.

I didn't say a word when they named me. I tried not to have any expression at all, but to keep my growing anger at this complete ambush was becoming difficult. After the "talk" was over, (which ended a full forty minutes early) I was blowing off steam to a friend and expressed how unfair and ridiculous this was. Everyone around me seemed rather confused that this was all she had put together for this month's presentation, something people carve out time from their busy day to attend.

I had to take a walk afterward to clear my head, and returned to the office. No one said another word to me about it. My boss who is notoriously non-confrontational was mysteriously unavailable. With the holiday coming and time off abounding, it was difficult to find time to speak to him about it, nor did I really know how to approach the subject. My PA colleague has not said anything about it either. In fact, she's been unusually silent about it. Normally, she sends me the new year's schedule for posting (I manage our department's website content), but so far, nothing. The next presentation is tomorrow, and I haven't received so much as a single peep from her. She printed off the posting, which supposedly was emailed to the distribution list (but I did not receive), and posted it in the common area.

I normally would take the initiative here and reach out to her for the schedule, but I'm so sick of this nonsense that I can't bring myself to email her. I know that if I bring it up, she'll mention the other task that she wants me to do, and I don't know how to handle it. I don't want to do the work that should rightly be hers, and I certainly am still angry about the way she tried to rope me into it publicly without approaching me in private first. (And based on the meetings she'd been having with the person who did her dirty work for her, she could have easily said something to me many weeks prior to this.)

I am trying to find a professional (and mostly polite) way of telling her to pound sand and do her own work. Suggestions are welcome. (Oh, and before anyone has a chance to ask, yes, I am looking for other positions. I am interviewing and seeking other options. But for the moment, I am stuck.) Thanks!

hjaye

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 09:05:00 AM »
I would send her an email cc'ing all the necessary people (your boss and anyone that is going to be involved with the task)

Tell her you were surprised to find out at the meeting that this task was being assigned to you.  Point out to her that the task does not fall under your job description, and that she is either going to have to do the task herself, or find someone else, but in any case, You will NOT be taking on the responsibility involved with seeing that this task is done.

There is nothing wrong with being direct and to the point.  I think it's better to be direct than to beat around the bush, this way there is no confusion, and anyone outside your department who might have been thinking that this responsibility has been officially passed on to you will realize that it is not part of your work duties.

SamiHami

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 09:07:25 AM »
Email to intermediary, cc'd to PA coworker and boss:

Dear intermediary,

I'm touching base with you regarding some misinformation that was given out during our last meeting. During that meeting it was stated that I would be doing *task.*. In actuality, PA coworker is responsible for that task. Please be sure to make this correction on all future documentation and in future meetings.

Thanks for clearing up this misunderstanding.

Sincerely,

hajisaurus

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lady_disdain

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 09:26:40 AM »
You have to speak up now. As long as you remain silent, everyone is going to think you accepted the task. Then, when it becomes urgent, you are the one who didn't do it.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 09:33:26 AM »
You have to speak up now. As long as you remain silent, everyone is going to think you accepted the task. Then, when it becomes urgent, you are the one who didn't do it.

This. I would assume that if you didn't challenge the assignment withing a week or so, that you had accepted the assignment.

Yes it does sound like PA co-worker was meeting with the other person and in their discussions PA said "When we roll out this new activity, Hajasaurus can do the monthly xxx yyy." The other person may have no idea that this is normal in your group. So either go to your boss now or send an email.

"Boss, xxx yyy task was assigned to me by PA and OW without prior discussion. I've reviewed my activities and don't believe I'll be able to take on this additional work unless you re-assign other tasks. How would you like to handle?"

Boss can then either say "I'll re-assign task to someone else." or "I'll reassign a different task to someone else" or "I would like for you to see if you can stretch yourself into taking on this additional activity because of .....".

All are valid responses from the boss but he/she is the one who needs to make that call.

But if you don't speak up, Boss and everyone else is assuming you've agreed to perform the task.

Virg

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 11:36:34 AM »
There's a Dilbert comic that springs to mind here.

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1996-05-30/

Definitely not eHell approved to react this way.  I'll go with others who said that you need to talk to your boss about this posthaste, and get the final word on whether this will end up in your lap.  I understand your anger at your coworker, but your boss needs to be brought into the loop here for sure, and your boss can tell your coworker to do her own job (assuming that your boss doesn't decide to reassign it).

Virg

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 11:44:42 AM »
I agree with all the others.  Time is definitely of the essence here.  This needs to be addressed immediately.  If it isn't, everyone will assume you have accepted this responsibility. 

Carotte

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 12:12:26 PM »
I agree with all the others.  Time is definitely of the essence here.  This needs to be addressed immediately.  If it isn't, everyone will assume you have accepted this responsibility.

You may even be able to use the fact that you've waited this long in your favor.
Contact your boss, explain that you were surprised this was passed onto you without prior notice, and that since you haven't heard from the others PA and OW about it you don't know where you are supposed to stand/do, and that furthermore, with your actual job duties A, B and C plus whatever you can find, you don't think you can take on those duties. Wouldn't PA be a better fit since X and Y?

Arila

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 12:53:35 PM »
We also have compartmentalization in my group. Coworker 1 handles all tasks relating to A, CW2 all with B, etc. If a new task comes in relating to A, it is redirected by anyone in our group to CW1 without necessarily going to the manager.


However, if something comes up related to A and CW1 can for whatever reason not take that on, the boss does need to decide who will take it on instead, with a full review of everyone's workload and experience.

I would explain that understanding to the boss, and ask to review the owner of this task accordingly.

bopper

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 01:41:15 PM »
You have to speak up now. As long as you remain silent, everyone is going to think you accepted the task. Then, when it becomes urgent, you are the one who didn't do it.

This. I would assume that if you didn't challenge the assignment withing a week or so, that you had accepted the assignment.

Yes it does sound like PA co-worker was meeting with the other person and in their discussions PA said "When we roll out this new activity, Hajasaurus can do the monthly xxx yyy." The other person may have no idea that this is normal in your group. So either go to your boss now or send an email.

"Boss, xxx yyy task was assigned to me by PA and OW without prior discussion. I've reviewed my activities and don't believe I'll be able to take on this additional work unless you re-assign other tasks. How would you like to handle?"

Boss can then either say "I'll re-assign task to someone else." or "I'll reassign a different task to someone else" or "I would like for you to see if you can stretch yourself into taking on this additional activity because of .....".

All are valid responses from the boss but he/she is the one who needs to make that call.

But if you don't speak up, Boss and everyone else is assuming you've agreed to perform the task.

This...except if you really don't want to do the new task then just say that you have no idea why you have been assigned NewTasks by the co worker and did not go through boss since you have so much on your plate already.  Or I have my hands full with tasks from area B, coworkers is assigned to Area A so why is she not doing it?

But the main thing is to make the boss make an active decision.... Either I don't take on the new work or you have to tell me what to drop.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 01:43:07 PM by bopper »

hajisaurus

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 04:05:37 PM »
Thanks all for your responses. You gave me the courage to speak to my boss about this. I mentioned the "assigned task" and he had no knowledge of it, thought it was way out of line for me to handle, and said if I hear anything further on the matter, to report back to him.

Furthermore, I mentioned being left out of communications on the future presentations and he said he hadn't been getting them either (she's dropped the ball a lot lately, he said.) So I emailed her directly, and cc'ed him and myself:

Quote
I saw the flyer posted for the presentation tomorrow, but I havenít gotten any emails from you regarding them. I havenít received the new 2014 schedule for posting to the website. Can you please make sure to include me in these mailings moving forward?
Also, I donít have anything to post for the previous presentations since October. If you have any of those for the website please forward those to me as well.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks!

She's away for the rest of the day, so she'll see it tomorrow and have a chance to respond. But with the boss cc'ed I hope she chooses her words carefully. Will keep you all updated.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 09:04:20 PM »
I'm glad your boss stuck up for you! I was afraid (being non-confrontational) that he just would have insisted you do it.

Danika

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 11:27:18 PM »
I'm glad you talked to your boss about it.

At my first full time job after college, I was at the bottom of the totem pole. My manager assigned me tasks but all the other coworkers had been there longer than me, so I was unaware that they weren't allowed to assign things to me.

After a while, I was juggling a lot of work, and at some point my manager gave me a new task and said "This is priority #1." And I said "What about the work that [other coworker] has been having me do? He told me those three tasks were my first priority." My manager was stunned. Those other three tasks were what the coworker himself was supposed to be working on. No one had authorized him to delegate work to me. And I was so young and naive that it never occurred to me that he was giving me his own work so that he could go play hooky. I was falling behind on my own tasks because I was doing my coworker's work which he said were high priority. This was the first my manger had heard about it!

siamesecat2965

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 10:44:15 AM »
Glad to hear your boss is on your side!

I had kind of a similar situation at my first job, only it was management. My direct boss had asked for, and received permission to work from home. This was back in the early 90's when it wasn't nearly as common as it is now. So she was home, I was in the office, and told by TPTB that I'd be "helping" another dept. Which really meant actually doing a second full time job, with no increase in pay or anything else like that.  I suspect they figured that since my direct boss wasnt in the office, there wasn't any work for me to do!  Which was not true at all.

I ended up being let go from that job, but quite honestly I was relieved. I was stressed beyond belief, and so far behind it wasn't even funny. And then my "replacement" walked out after a day and a half. My direct boss had called to tell me this, and she and I had a good laugh over it. COnsidering she had NO say in my departure, and wasn't happy about it at all, it worked out well.

hajisaurus

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Re: Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 11:16:37 AM »
Thanks for your support. Her response was remarkably more polite than expected. She cited my recent maternity leave (I returned in April) as the excuse for not putting me in the distribution list. I rolled my eyes heavily, but she did provide me the information I needed.

And, true to form, proceeded to try and throw another colleague under the bus to me after this. Oh, and asked me for another scheduling favor. Please eGods get me out of this job!!!