Bossy Co-worker!

Question:

I’ve been working for my current employer for seventeen months. For the first ten months I’ve been working part-time. Seven months ago, I received a promotion for a full-time job.

When my boss promoted me, she said she needed me to do a variety of tasks, a jack-of-all-trades if you will. I was thrilled to be moving up in the ranks and thought diversity was a good thing. As the months progressed I found myself getting more and more frustrated. My coworkers have specific duties but I do not. It is very annoying to work with no real sense of purpose. Having no specific job description leaves you open to being everyone’s assistant. There is one specific task I do (which from what I understand no one else wants to be involved with) but it does not take up all of my time.

About six weeks ago, I expressed to my boss my need to have my job reexamined. She expressed her appreciation for my hard work. I expressed my appreciation for working at the company and said I would prefer to continue working on my one specific task and that I want other specific responsibilities assigned to me going forward. My boss agreed and that was it.

This week, my coworker pretty much demanded I work with her on a project. As my boss and I were in agreement on what I was doing, I told my coworker to run it by the boss. My coworker asked my boss (while I was nearby) if I could help her with the project. Of course when my boss said I should help my coworker, I agreed.

My coworker has a bossy nature and that became apparent when we were working together. I confronted her and said I did not appreciate her treating me like a subordinate. She got very defense and basically said I had to help her and that I’ve been isolating myself from her. When I’ve worked with her in the past, I’ve sat in on meetings with her and my boss. This time around, I told my coworker that we should have a meeting with the boss, so I know what’s going on and what I need to do, but my coworker said that was not necessary. So I felt like I was being dumped on and being kept out of the loop. I told her I was working on other projects and she did not seem to care. All she wanted to hear was I would help her. To diffuse the situation, I called a truce and agreed to help her. That evening, I came home from work and felt miserable. My husband advised me to talk to my boss. Today, I went to work and helped out my coworker some more. When we finished one of the projects, I told my coworker I needed about two hours alone to catch up on my own work. She gave me a dirty look and did not seem understanding. At first, I thought I would wait before talking to my boss but based on my coworker’s attitude, I thought the talk could not wait.

Today, I spoke to my boss in confidence and explained the situation. As usual, my boss was supportive and said she thought our last talk reinforced things. Now that my coworker is in the mix, I told my boss it was making things frustrating for me. Fortunately, my boss said she did not want me to be my coworker’s assistant and said if we work together, we should by all means be on level playing fields. When my boss and I finished talking, she asked me to take care of something for her, which I agreed to. So I started working on the project my boss asked me to do. My coworker walked over to me and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was doing something for the boss. Then, my coworker questioned me, as to why I was doing something for the boss and wanted to know what it was. It really was none of my coworker’s business so I just told her the boss assigned me the task. The bossy coworker of mine turned into the nosey coworker and began asking me to justify my actions, saying she needed to know what was going on. Things got very awkward between us. My coworker started acting like a jerk and the entire office (albeit a very small one) heard her.

In the end, I was glad I had the talk with my boss. She definitely heard what my coworker said to me and probably understood why I came to her in the first place. The management style at my workplace is laxed and needs a major overhaul, but that won’t change, as it’s a family run business. Am I to blame for this dilemma or is this just the wrong job for me?

Signed,

Jack of All Trades


Answer:

Dear Jack of All Trades:

I’ve been working for my current employer for seventeen months. For the first ten months I’ve been working part-time. Seven months ago, I received a promotion for a full-time job.

When my boss promoted me, she said she needed me to do a variety of tasks, a jack-of-all-trades if you will. I was thrilled to be moving up in the ranks and thought diversity was a good thing. As the months progressed I found myself getting more and more frustrated. My coworkers have specific duties but I do not. It is very annoying to work with no real sense of purpose. Having no specific job description leaves you open to being everyone’s assistant. There is one specific task I do (which from what I understand no one else wants to be involved with) but it does not take up all of my time.

About six weeks ago, I expressed to my boss my need to have my job reexamined. She expressed her appreciation for my hard work. I expressed my appreciation for working at the company and said I would prefer to continue working on my one specific task and that I want other specific responsibilities assigned to me going forward. My boss agreed and that was it.

This week, my coworker pretty much demanded I work with her on a project. As my boss and I were in agreement on what I was doing, I told my coworker to run it by the boss. My coworker asked my boss (while I was nearby) if I could help her with the project. Of course when my boss said I should help my coworker, I agreed.

My coworker has a bossy nature and that became apparent when we were working together. I confronted her and said I did not appreciate her treating me like a subordinate. She got very defense and basically said I had to help her and that I’ve been isolating myself from her. When I’ve worked with her in the past, I’ve sat in on meetings with her and my boss. This time around, I told my coworker that we should have a meeting with the boss, so I know what’s going on and what I need to do, but my coworker said that was not necessary. So I felt like I was being dumped on and being kept out of the loop. I told her I was working on other projects and she did not seem to care. All she wanted to hear was I would help her. To diffuse the situation, I called a truce and agreed to help her. That evening, I came home from work and felt miserable. My husband advised me to talk to my boss. Today, I went to work and helped out my coworker some more. When we finished one of the projects, I told my coworker I needed about two hours alone to catch up on my own work. She gave me a dirty look and did not seem understanding. At first, I thought I would wait before talking to my boss but based on my coworker’s attitude, I thought the talk could not wait.

Today, I spoke to my boss in confidence and explained the situation. As usual, my boss was supportive and said she thought our last talk reinforced things. Now that my coworker is in the mix, I told my boss it was making things frustrating for me. Fortunately, my boss said she did not want me to be my coworker’s assistant and said if we work together, we should by all means be on level playing fields. When my boss and I finished talking, she asked me to take care of something for her, which I agreed to. So I started working on the project my boss asked me to do. My coworker walked over to me and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was doing something for the boss. Then, my coworker questioned me, as to why I was doing something for the boss and wanted to know what it was. It really was none of my coworker’s business so I just told her the boss assigned me the task. The bossy coworker of mine turned into the nosey coworker and began asking me to justify my actions, saying she needed to know what was going on. Things got very awkward between us. My coworker started acting like a jerk and the entire office (albeit a very small one) heard her.

In the end, I was glad I had the talk with my boss. She definitely heard what my coworker said to me and probably understood why I came to her in the first place. The management style at my workplace is laxed and needs a major overhaul, but that won’t change, as it’s a family run business. Am I to blame for this dilemma or is this just the wrong job for me?

William Gorden