Q: I seem to have acquired some unwanted responsibilities. Although I was hired to process payroll and do other administrative tasks, I have gradually become the go-to person for personnel issues. Little by little, various human resources duties have been given to me, and I am now expected to handle them.
I have never been given official responsibility for this extra work, nor am I being paid for it. In fact, HR is actually supposed to be part of my supervisor’s job, though she generally ignores it. I am offended and irritated by her dumping these tasks on me without any discussion at all. What should I do about this?
A: Given the way HR is being handled, this is obviously not a large company. In smaller businesses, jobs often shift into new territory with no explicit decision or declaration, so your experience is certainly not unique. As you have discovered, this can also result in a gap between responsibility level and compensation.
Although this “position creep” is obvious to you, odds are that no one else has given it much thought. Since your supervisor isn’t psychic, she may have no clue that you’re feeling so unhappy and resentful. Therefore, if you want the situation to improve, you must bring this to her attention without complaining or becoming accusatory.
For example: “I’m not sure if you realize it, but over the past year, I seem to have evolved into the company’s unofficial human resources representative. People are bringing me problems and questions that I am not trained to handle. My concern is that I could be giving advice which is incorrect or possibly even illegal. Can we talk about the best way to resolve this?”
If your supervisor is open to other options, the two of you can list the required HR duties, determine how they should be divided, and create a plan for developing necessary skills. You might also raise the issue of appropriate compensation. But if your boss seems committed to the status quo, the only solution may be finding a job which better matches your qualifications.
Q: I am having a big problem with a young coworker. “Ashley” joined our company about six months ago, and this is her very first job. Although I am twice her age and have many years with the company, Ashley shows absolutely no respect for my experience. Whenever I tell her to do something, she always argues about it.
Although I have tried to get along with Ashley, she has made several complaints about me to our manager. Things have gotten so bad that I have considered asking him to meet with both of us. Do you think that would be a good idea?
A: Before initiating a three-way discussion, you must be sure you understand your role. If your boss wants you to instruct, assist or supervise Ashley, then her arguing is counterproductive. To put a stop to it, he should clearly explain how he expects the two of you to work together.
But if you have no official status as Ashley’s mentor, your well-intended advice may come across as intrusive and condescending. In that case, you should just stop directing Ashley and let her learn from her mistakes.