“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: Six months ago I was hired as the receptionist for a small manufacturing company run by the owner and his two sons. Even though each of the sons has his own assistant, over time I have accrued many additional duties outside being receptionist. As a result, I must leave my desk periodically. The owner has started calling me out for not answering the phone. I rarely take lunch, work late every night, and I’m so stressed out I cry every day. Please tell me what to do. — Danya
J.T.: Telling your boss about the problem is not enough — SHOW him. Starting Monday, track how you spend each day, and after a week or two, you’ll have quantifiable evidence to support how much work you are doing above and beyond the job you were hired for. Next, schedule a meeting to show him the information, and nicely say: “Since I’m new here, I feel like I may not be prioritizing my time the way you want me to. Could we look at this together?”
Dale: It’s worth a shot, I suppose, Danya. However, if your boss were a helpful, understanding sort, he already would have spotted the problem and addressed it. So, before your meeting, I’d suggest an additional step: Seek out your predecessor and ask her how she handled the job. Further, go to the two assistants for advice — you need allies. Do those things before meeting with the boss, and you’ll know where you stand… and I’m guessing you’ll soon be standing in line at Kinko’s to print out resumes, getting ready to move on. Most bosses don’t adapt to their employees.
J.T.: I’m not so pessimistic. Added responsibilities are a sign that you are respected. I’m guessing the boss will help you reorganize your job, and if he seems receptive, that might even give you an opening to discuss pay, saying something like, “Can you tell me the next steps so that I can eventually earn a promotion and pay increase for all this additional work?” His response will give you a glimpse of the future and your prospects. Remember, you control how people treat you, and you can teach them to create a better job situation.
Dale: I hope it works, but my prediction is you’ll end up with this important career revelation: It’s better to change bosses than to try to change the boss.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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