Author Topic: Asking for someone to fill in for me *Tiny Update  (Read 3970 times)

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shortstuff

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Asking for someone to fill in for me *Tiny Update
« on: June 18, 2014, 09:47:20 PM »
I need advice on how to go about asking for someone to cover my workload while I'm out of the office.  The catch is that no one really benefits from this but me. 

BG: I work at a car dealership that is a small business; family owned, but still tied to all the rules of the corporate brand.  Almost everything is handled in house; there is no corporate HR to call, for example. 

My actual duties are handling claims.  I do technical coding, which pays the mechanics, and then I submit the claims and make sure the accounting balances out and that we get paid for each one.  I'm good at my job, so good that the corporate offices hold a yearly job-performance competition, for each job title, and I won a big, all expense paid trip later this year.  It's a Big Deal in the company, people go from all over the country.  I can't wait to go, my time off was approved, and everyone very nicely congratulated me.  /BG

The catch, as I said, is I'll be gone for 1.5 weeks.  Even taking 1 sick day is enough to get me backed up for a day and a half.  Being out 7 working days will bury me.  I currently have no one who can back me up and take over my duties 100%.  Someone used to do the technical coding 3 years ago, and has coded a handful of times while I was sick.  It wasn't perfect, but it got the mechanics paid, and that's the biggest deal to management.  I expect this guy will take over that half of my job while I'm gone. 

There's no one trained to do the other half of my job, the submission.  And this half gets graded in these yearly competitions.  I don't want to stress on vacation about how much overtime I'll have to work to catch up.  Plus, I'll lose the chance to win next year if no one does this while I'm gone.  I don't feel like this is a good enough reason for management, since it only benefits me.  It sounds selfish.  But how can I bring this up with my manager, since I'm asking basically a really big favor.  I try to frame requests in a "good of the company" mindset, but I'm at a loss here. 
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 06:28:25 PM by shortstuff »

kudeebee

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 10:56:25 PM »
Who handles these tasks when you are on vacation?  Wouldn't this same person do it while you are gone on your trip?

Sounds like someone needs to be trained to fill in when you are gone--at least in the coding that is needed to pay the mechanics.  That is the approach that I would use with management--training someone to code so that the mechanics can always get paid.

Marbles

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2014, 12:29:33 AM »
You are not the only one who benefits from this getting taken care of while you're gone.
- Without the submission, the money is not coming in in a timely fashion.
- Paying you overtime to catch up is not in the best interests of the dealer's bottom line.
- By setting up a situation where you may be made ineligible to attain this achievement next year, thay lower the morale of a highly motivated employee and lose the potential prestige and name recognition of being your home dealership.

Mostly, though, I wouldn't try to justify the need to have someone trained to do this. Just assume management will also see the need. "Boss, I'm assuming [person who is trained] will do the coding while I'm gone. Who should I train to do submit the claims? I want to make sure things go great for you while I'm away!"

camlan

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2014, 07:48:09 AM »
Congratulations on your award!

I agree. Definitely go to whoever is your supervisor and ask if they have given any thought to how to get your duties done while you are away. Have a plan of your own in mind at the time.

Hiring a temp and having them come in the day before you leave for training is also an alternative.

Also, make sure you write down the procedures so that whoever covers for you has a back-up, and make sure everyone know where those procedures are. (The time I left a copy with my supervisor, a copy with the co-worker who was covering for me, and two printed-out copies right on top of my desk and still was greeted with "Why didn't you write down the steps to the XYZ process before you left?!?" as I walked in the door after my vacation still haunts me.)

It is to the dealership's benefit to have an award-winning employee--it gets them recognition with Corporate. So it is also to the dealership's benefit to keep you happy and figure out a way to get your job done while you are not in the office.

IMO, every single job at every single company needs to have at least two people trained to do the job. People go on vacation, people get sick, people quit their jobs. Not having a back-up plan is a bad idea. You can pitch this as not just covering for this trip, but a good, long-term plan for the company.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


alice

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2014, 10:09:39 AM »
Talk to your boss about this.  As a supervisor, it is my responsibility to make sure the work gets done by my staff.  Your supervisor has to make this decision.

Lynn2000

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2014, 11:01:41 AM »
Another approach to consider is that this isn't your problem to solve. I know it's hard to think that way, because doing your job well is such a source of pride to you and in fact the vacation you're going on is the result of an award for doing your job so well. But making sure all the jobs get done is, in fact, your boss's job, and I'm kind of surprised (well, not really, based on bosses I've known) that they haven't discussed this with you already.

So you could go into the boss's office and say, "I'm preparing for my trip, and I was wondering who was going to take over my job while I'm gone, and when I should start training them." If your boss gets this big-eyed look of shock like they haven't thought of that, well, that's not a good sign. Leaving aside the part about doing things well enough to contribute towards your possible award next year, this isn't a frivolous job--people expect to get paid on time and there are financial and legal repercussions for not keeping the books accurately.

You could say, "Bob usually takes over the coding when I'm gone. I'd be happy to give him a refresher course on how to do that so things go more smoothly."

And then you could say, "I'm also concerned about the submission process. Currently no one else on staff knows how to do that. If no one does it, I'll need to work overtime when I get back, and based on past experience, that would take X hours, for $Y total. I'd prefer to train someone so that they can be doing it while I'm gone."

Of course the boss might say, "Oh, that amount of overtime is fine." And then you have to decide whether you will just accept that, or whether you will push further. Because although getting the submissions done well enough to earn this award is hugely satisfying to you, you are right that you're asking for something that's mainly only in your interest, and not the company's. I mean, I could see how, after the fact, you might say, "I was really frustrated that you didn't create the opportunity for me to win this award a second time, because it's a major part of my job satisfaction, and I'm thinking seriously of moving to another job where the executive support is better." But that seems like kind of an ugly conversation to have right before you go on vacation, you know? Maybe better for an annual job review or something.

And, if I understand correctly, the work that gets done while you're gone will contribute to your own possible future award, with no benefit to the person who actually does the work for that week and a half. So even if the boss agrees that you can train Alice to do it, it's possible Alice won't have much motivation to make sure it all gets done, or is done well. So if this scenario arises you might want to think about how Alice could be rewarded for learning this new task and doing it well, whether that's something official through work or you being very appreciative and bringing her back a gift from vacation, being willing to cover her job for her sometimes, etc..
~Lynn2000

lowspark

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2014, 11:11:13 AM »
So, other than a sick day here and there, you've never taken any vacation time off? How long have you been working there?

I agree that it's your boss's responsibility to figure out how to get your responsibilities taken care of when you're out. What if you were (as we put it in our office) hit by a bus? Any number of things could happen to keep you out of the office for more than a day or two.

I think I'd approach it as something I expected to happen as a natural part of the business process as opposed to asking for a favor.

Boss, as you know, I'll be out of the office on x dates. Who will I be training to take over my responsibilities in my absence?

Or even:

Boss, There is no one who can back up my responsibilities when I'm out of the office. Who can I train so that when I need to be out, the work will get done?

bopper

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2014, 11:15:16 AM »
"Boss, I wanted to talk to you who will be handling coding and submission while I am gone on the award trip.Clearly it can't wait until I am back...Can (whoever it was that did coding) take over the coding?  And who knows how to submit?  Maybe it all can't get done but if the majority of it was taken care of I can catch up with some overtime if that is okay."

shortstuff

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2014, 07:01:25 PM »
Lynn2000, your whole post was so awesome, and I think you really "got" my mentality here.  You're right, it's not really my job to worry about it, but this work has been my baby for so long that I got caught up in it. 

There's also a financial consideration, which is another thing I won't be bringing up because I think it sounds tacky.  Since I'll be gone so long, my monthly performance bonus will suffer dramatically, or I might not even earn anything at all.  And I'm salaried, so overtime is at my discretion, but I don't think I'd be willing to do a full un-paid workday to catch up.  But I've thought about it.  Maybe depending on the mountains of paperwork that greet me when I come back, I'll make the decision then. 

Lowspark - I've been here 2.5 years, and the most 'vacation' I've taken is a 4 day weekend.  Previously, no one pitched in (with the coding) to help unless it was Payroll Day, or Month End Day, when they couldn't wait for me to get back and do the work. 

Quote
"Boss, I'm assuming [person who is trained] will do the coding while I'm gone. Who should I train to do submit the claims? I want to make sure things go great for you while I'm away!"

I love this wording the best.  Simple, positive, shows that I care about the dealer and not just myself.  I'll try to memorize that

Thanks for all the suggested wording.  One trend I noticed is that they are pretty brief, with the expectation that of course management will take care of this as long as I bring it up in a timely manner.  But what is timely?  Too early they'll think I'm crazy, but too late and I might have to badger manager to get a move on before I leave. 

blarg314

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2014, 07:47:12 PM »

I think it's a good idea to address this more generally with your bosses, because this situation isn't just about your own convenience - it's about the smooth functioning of the business. What you have now is a very unstable situation - if you were to become seriously ill, or in an accident, or had a family emergency, there would be no-one else who could do your very vital task, and the business would suffer.

So they really need someone who is trained to do both tasks, who can fill in if you're unavailable.


siamesecat2965

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2014, 09:05:58 AM »

I think it's a good idea to address this more generally with your bosses, because this situation isn't just about your own convenience - it's about the smooth functioning of the business. What you have now is a very unstable situation - if you were to become seriously ill, or in an accident, or had a family emergency, there would be no-one else who could do your very vital task, and the business would suffer.

So they really need someone who is trained to do both tasks, who can fill in if you're unavailable.

POD. People are human, and things happen. So there should be someone who can do the duties you do, just in case, something comes up suddenly, and you are out. I'm surprised they don't already ahve something in place for that scenario

Lynn2000

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2014, 09:13:33 AM »
Lynn2000, your whole post was so awesome, and I think you really "got" my mentality here. 

Aw, thanks!  :D

Thanks for all the suggested wording.  One trend I noticed is that they are pretty brief, with the expectation that of course management will take care of this as long as I bring it up in a timely manner.  But what is timely?  Too early they'll think I'm crazy, but too late and I might have to badger manager to get a move on before I leave. 

I think "timely" depends on how long you think it would take to train someone. And also anything else you might know about their schedules--like if Alice seems a good option for training on the submission process, but you know Alice has a busy time coming up soon, it would be better to wait until after that if possible.

Again, it's not entirely on you to make the decision, either. Say your trip is in October. I think you could easily broach the subject with management now. You don't have to be like, "I need to start training someone tomorrow!" but I don't see the harm in letting them know you've been thinking about it. I think it shows that you're planning ahead and thinking of the company's needs.

And, as other people have pointed out, this isn't just about your upcoming long vacation. Your boss should be invested in preparing for your sudden absence, and you can spin it that way in your initial conversation. "Thinking about my vacation in October has made me realize that there really isn't anyone who can completely take over my job when I'm gone. I mean, what if I was suddenly ill or in an accident, or had a family emergency? These tasks would get so behind if I was out for even a few days and no one did them. I was thinking I should train a couple of people in various parts of my job, so they could fill in while I was gone. What do you think?"

And then hopefully your boss would have some ideas and you would discuss it, and what the timeline should be. With my boss, who does sometimes need to be badgered, I like to bring things up early, so they can kind of sink into her mind and swirl around. Then each time I bring it up after that, it seems to have a higher likelihood of acceptance. In my case it's a fatal move to spring something on her at the last minute, because she gets flustered and is more likely to shoot it down. Also, during the time I'm laying the groundwork with her, I'm also doing everything I can to prepare by myself, for example by writing out instructions and creating examples (with screenshots and sometimes PowerPoint!). Then when she's finally like, "Hey, you should probably think about training someone else on this," I can whip out all this stuff and be ready to start it right then.
~Lynn2000

shortstuff

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me *Tiny Update
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2014, 06:27:56 PM »
So very early this month, Boss, another manager, and I had a meeting to talk about a new approach to me doing my job.  It is more involved, but will ultimately make the company more money so I'm on board. 

This new approach was a great, natural lead-in for me to mention:
1) If they add this more complicated approach to my job, I will be over-worked and unable to keep on top of things. 
2) The person (who naturally, of course, simply must be) filling in for me will also need this training to keep things going while I'm gone. 

I brought this up 2 months before my trip, saying I can work with someone a little each week to get them prepared, but not entirely take them away from their current duties.  2 weeks passed without even confirming the training and I was getting really nervous, then manager contacted me again and I realized that they were making their own plans and just not involving me in the process.  Which is their right, of course, but I didn't like it, especially because nobody even knows all my duties, so how can they plan without me? 

But good news came out of it: a new position is being created to fill a void that we have, and some of my job titles will transfer to this person.  This makes my workload much easier, so I can focus on my main goals and not fall behind in work too much.  I think they are also going to train this person (a current employee) as backup, because she told me in private that they are freaking out about my trip. 

So there's going to be a lot of training and transfer of materials, and I'm being moved to a new office, but there's a plan in place and I can breathe a small sigh of relief about not coming back to a mess at work after vacation.  So thanks for the wording suggestions and listening in!

Lynn2000

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me *Tiny Update
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2014, 10:22:42 AM »
Thanks for the update! I know it can be frustrating when you realize people are planning for you, without involving you, but I think that happens a lot in the workplace and in many ways it's the way it's supposed to work--you the employee shouldn't have to think of every single point in the process, that's what you have a boss for.

Hope it works out and you have a great vacation!
~Lynn2000

rigs32

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Re: Asking for someone to fill in for me *Tiny Update
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2014, 01:37:54 PM »
In speaking with non-Americans, they are always so surprised at how little time off we get. Not to mention the pressure put on employees to NOT use the time off they earned and a refusal by employers to do anything to cover duties so it's more stressful to come back from vacation than to not take one at all.

Glad to hear they are realizing the need for another staff member.