I work at a local movie theater and I’ve been there for over a year. I get along well with everyone in the staff. I’m just a bottom of the food chain team member, but have been considered for promotion. Due to seniority I didn’t get it. My shift leaders and assistant managers know I’m dependable and can take on all kinds of responsibility so sometimes I feel I am used for that reason.I’m often doing tasks other team members are not given. At certain times my shift leaders will be talking or on their phones for long periods of time while I’m running around our concession stand trying to help people and prepare food. It’s very frustrating because I feel I am often doing the job of other people while they waste time. I need to know how to address this to my general manager without seeming like I want to get people in trouble.
Dear Feeling Used:
Your situation is challenging, I’m sure. On one hand it’s nice to be considered the one who can do great work and is always in a good mood about it. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to feel as though you’re taken for granted.Rather than talk to your general manager about it right now, have you considered asking your coworkers for help in a friendly way, as though you know they want to help but just didn’t realize you need it?For example, two of them are talking and you’re swamped, you could go to them and say, in a confidential tone, as though you’re not upset with them, you’re just asking, “Hey you guys, when you get a chance could you help me for a minute or two while I get the line cleared out?”That way you’re not telling them to stop talking and you’re not implying you want them to start working, you’re just asking for a bit of help.Or, if one of them is on the phone and there’s no one to help you, you could walk up, clearly show that you’re sorry to be interrupting and whisper, while holding up two fingers, “Could you help me for just one or two minutes so I can get this stack of customers taken care of?”Again, that’s not implying you expect him or her to get off the phone for the whole evening, you’re just trying to provide customer service. I would suggest a different approach if you weren’t at the “bottom of the food chain”. But, since you are, and since you want to be thought of as a great communicator and an effective team member, the asking approach is best. It’s actually best no matter what rank or position you have.“Could you help me with this for a minute?” is much more likely to get help than, “Hey! I’m swamped here, guys! Could you stop talking and do some working???”If you ask pleasantly and they say they won’t help, you may want to ask again, more firmly. “Kim, there is a line of customers needing help. I need you to help me so we don’t all get in hot water.” I don’t think they’ll say they don’t want to help. If you get along generally well with everyone they probably are just so used to you seeming happy to do the work that they don’t consider you might be tired of doing more than your share.You can bet they all notice your good qualities and that the manager notices too. So, even though I know it’s irritating and frustrating, it’s also a great chance to show what you are capable of achieving.Also remember this: The bottom line on all you do is getting customers served quickly and correctly. If you find you can’t do that and your coworkers won’t help, you’ll have to talk to the general manager about it. Otherwise a customer will complain, rightfully so, and you will be the one they complain about. If you have the excuse that you were very busy, your manager will ask why you didn’t ask for help. So, you’ll look like a bad employee even though that’s far from the case.If you do have to talk to the general manager, consider asking in a non-specific way. Rather than saying that you often are trying to rush around because others aren’t working, just talk in a casual, general sense and ask about how to request assistance without sounding bossy.If you’ve been considered for promotion a question like that will be great to ask. And, it might get your group noticed more by the manager, which might get them out of their bad habits. Plus, you might get some good advice. Keep this situation in mind when you are promoted. Show appreciation for those who are working hard but don’t make them do more just because they’re nice enough to do it! If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how this works out. Best wishes!
Tina Lewis Rowe