General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Being "assigned" work by PA lateral colleague

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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!

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.

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.



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.


--- Quote from: lady_disdain on January 14, 2014, 08:26:40 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.

--- End quote ---

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.


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