Declined Extra Work, Now Treated Differently!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being treated as less committed:

Our company has in the past two years reorganized our department. I currently work in accounts receivable & accounts payable. One of my co-workers were let go approximately a month ago. Before being let go, a person from another department was training to do the person’s job who was let go. Once my co-worker was out of the picture, the person training was given her job. I was then asked to work in the person’s department (the one who was given the job) 2 days a week, while maintaining the position I already have. I carefully thought this through and the hours that I needed to work in the department were impossible for me to do. Besides, it was really not something I wanted to do on a permanent basis. It was actually a step down for me. I wasn’t even considered for the open position in our department.

I spoke to my boss about this situation and declined the extra duties. Now, I am being treated differently and told that I used to be a real go-getter— positive employee. I believe this is being said because I said no to this change. Recently I have started having problems with my teenage daughter, which has affected my work somewhat. This is also being held against me. I need advice on how to handle this situation.

Signed, What do I do?

Dear What do I do?:

I am sorry for your situation. Thanks for asking what to do. Here are some comments which may help you decide what to do from here. However, the decision is yours. First, about your daughter. It is difficult to separate our personal/family life from our work life. The thing to remember is that even though we talk with co-workers about our personal lives, it really does not become an issue with the boss unless we allow it to affect our work performance. If your daughter’s situation is going to temporarily affect your work life through attendance, phone calls, or less than standard work performance; the responsible thing to do is to discuss it with your supervisor in advance of any significant problem. Then, try to work out an agreement. Your company employee manual may help you formulate your thinking before talking with your supervisor.

Now, about your job. You were looking for work when you hired in at your company. You were assigned a specific job in accounts rec/pay. Technically, your employer has a right to adjust yours and your co-workers’ responsibilities as it best fits your company’s and your customers’ needs. You have a right to accept or decline. However, when we decline work, it sometimes puts your employer in a difficult situation. Remember that markets, customers, employee capabilities and availability, governmental regulation, and other factors change regularly.

In order to maintain a business in a competitive marketplace, employers must make decisions that do not always seem favorable to employees and even to the employer. It is very challenging to operate a business these days – more so than in the past. Granted, employers are sometimes not clear to employees on why certain decisions are made. But it appears that you were asked to make this adjustment, rather than told. I assure you, many employers would not have given an option.

From a teamwork standpoint – to help your employer achieve its goals, it would have been good for you to have accepted the change. It may have been a temporary thing. We do not know that. However, it may have been better for your employer (if possible and legal) to have maintained team communication throughout this reorganization, so employees are not wondering what is going on and why. Keep in mind that I do not know the culture of your work place. So my remarks may not be appropriate here. If I were in your situation right now, as best as I can understand it given your explanation, here is what I would do.

I would ask to talk with your immediate supervisor for a few minutes in private. Tell your employer that you are concerned about your response to the request, and you are sorry if you caused unnecessary challenges. Explain that it did not sound appealing because of the hours and your not understanding the logic of it. Do not complain about the decision, the company, the other department, and the new employee in your department. Be positive.

Explain that you want to help meet the company’s personnel needs and you are open to working something out in additional/or different responsibilities. Ask if you can work out your hours so it is not so overbearing. It is fine to say that you are concerned for your future growth and livelihood as well. If you need to caution your employer that your daughter’s situation will be an issue, address that at that time. Otherwise, assure your employer that it should not deter your work performance. In short, you should try to restore your working relationship with your employer. You must initiate the action, in a pleasant, cooperative way. If you cannot or are not willing to accept what your employer needs from you as an employee, then you cannot expect the employer to be happy with your conditions without at least discussing options. A team works in a give-and-take manner. But ultimately, the employer must meet the needs of its marketplace or none of you will have jobs. That is the reality of business.

Hopefully, your boss will respond cooperatively and appreciate your willingness to work things out. I hope you can resolve this through dialogue. You are no doubt a valuable employee who I would think your employer wants to keep. Attempting to mend the relationship is the right thing to. Then you know you have done what you can do. Also, stay cooperative. It may help overcome the new and hopefully temporary perception of you. Give it some time for things to be restored. In the meantime, demonstrate your worthiness as an employee. I wish you the very best.Think WEGO. Act WEGO.

Donald G. Gibson, Guest Respondent