How To Handle Being Screwed

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about:

I work for a great company as an executive assistant. This past year I somehow assumed the role of office manager even though we have one… she’s 70 years old. This is one of those situations where they “can’t” get rid of her”, but I’m not going to be compensated for taking on tasks she is no longer capable of, because I technically can not assume the title!  Omg! Please, help me out here. It is the most awkward situation. Everyone knows it’s wrong. I’m 47 years old. Been doing this a loooong time so I am especially miffed at this loyalty my company is abiding by, yet I’m getting screwed! Help!

Signed, Screwed

Dear Screwed:

Who’s everyone? You say everyone knows it’s wrong. I assume someone above your boss has told you that you “technically can not assume the title” and that they won’t fire your 70-year old office manager whose job you are doing. What have you done to make your discontent known? Have you listed the duties you have taken that once were the Office Manager’s? Have you requested an investigation of this matter with Human Resources and/or Personnel?

You are not screwed. You just feel like it. Don’t approach HR with the complaint that you are screwed. You simply want a raise and possibly you also want the correct title for what you do. I’m sure you know that. And another thing you don’t want to do is to vent your frustration in gossip about how incapable is your Office Manager and how you have taken over but aren’t compensated for that extra work.

Most likely she has earned her right to not be pushed out, and the fact that you are doing what she is supposed to do, makes her look good. But to change the way it is, you need to make your voice heard in appropriate channels. I expect that you are wrong to be told you can’t be compensated for your “take over” and I also expect, if you want it, that you can be assigned as Office Manager.

You say you are in a “great company”. Great companies know how to make manpower reassignments. Great companies have departments of Human Resources to handle regular and unusual personnel situations. So that this “unfair” situation doesn’t cause a rift between you and the current Office Manager, with the support of the manager above her, you might frankly share with her your frustration and ask for her advice. It isn’t unheard of for roles to change. She probably would be willing to relinquish her title if, in fact, you have relieved her of difficult responsibilities.

You obviously are frustrated. Frustration can sour you. Don’t allow this to play over and over in your head like a broken record. You don’t have to be a squeaking wheel calling to be greased. Rather approach it as a challenge to find a creative and acceptable resolution. I’m sure you will do all you can to help your Office Manager to save face while facing the reality that she has allowed you to take over. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that is really what you want for your self and all concerned.

William Gorden