My Boss Is Still Doing My Job

Question:

I was hired to be the Payroll/HR Admin. which my boss used to do (she did both my job and hers). But it seem in a lot of cases she is always the go-to person about payroll and HR questions. I feel that I am just a clerk. Should I say something?

Signed,

Frustrated


Answer:

Dear Frustrated:

Your situation is easy to understand from your boss’s perspective AND from yours. Your boss not only has the experience and knowledge to do the job–she likely has the credibility with others, and enjoys continuing in the role of “The Authority About HR.”

On the other hand, I can imagine that you must sometimes feel that you only do the less desirable aspects of the work, and are not viewed as the key person. That can be demoralizing and frustrating. Consider some of the following issues and otpions as you develop a plan of action: 1. Think about how long you have had the job. If you have only been doing the job for a few weeks or a month or two, you are still in the trial stage as far as many people are concerned. Time may help ease some of the problems. Work quickly to establish that you are knowledgeable and skillful.

If there are any issues about which all employees or some of them, should know, make sure you communicate about it. Putting your name on an email or memo that is well-prepared and that helps employees in some way, puts your name on their radar as someone of value.

2. Self-evaluate,and consider the comments of your boss and others, to determine if you have the knowledge and skills you need to move into the role of an authority about your job. People go to the person who can help them. Can you help people as completely as your boss can? If not, think about the areas where you are lacking, and ensure that you are gaining knowledge in those areas. 3. Think about your customer service approach in general. Have you expressed to others that you want to be their one-stop source, and proven to them that you can be that for them? If you are asked for assistance, or are required to work out a problem, are you nearly always able and willing to provide the help that is needed? Those are questions that you might want to ask of some of your co-workers, to ensure that they know YOU can be the go-to person as well.

If you are required by your boss to clear things with her first, you still can provide a first opinion, but say that you will check with your boss. When your answer holds, that will give you some credibility.

4. Communicate with your boss about this. Be open and honest about it in an appropriate way. Say something like, “Carol, I feel sometimes that I’m not fully doing the job I was hired to do. That not only makes me feel badly, but ends up putting work on you. What would you say are the key areas I need to gain skills in, so I can do the full job, not just part of it?”

If you take something to your boss, say, “I appreciate you helping me with this. But I hope I can soon get the information I need so I can do this on my own. Are there some areas I ought to be working on more than others?”

Whatever you choose to say, the key issue is to let your boss know that you WANT to take a more complete and active role in your job. Your boss likely feels a strong sense of responsibility about the work. She may also find it easier to do some things herself rather than stop to teach you. You can help by offering to observe, volunteering to do something she might otherwise do, or simply telling her that if she’ll point you to the right resource you’ll find out what needs to be done and check with her to make sure you did it right.

That’s the bottom line for almost all supervisors and managers: They are worried that things won’t be done correctly or completely. They think they will be able to do the job better, so they do it, even when it is no longer their specific job. If you can convince her that she need not worry about the quality of the work, she will probably be happy to give up having a double job!

5. It may also be that your boss simply enjoys the HR work and doesn’t want to give it up completely. She may always be more involved than others might be. That can be problematic, or it can be a very good thing. Perhaps the two of you can develop a good working partnership, and the other employees will get even better service that way.

Your boss likely doesn’t intend to undermine your work or take the enjoyment out of it. (Although she may subconciously be a bit jealous of having someone else be considered the expert–even though she is still the overall boss.) But, if she is otherwise a decent person to work with, she’ll adjust to the new situation and be happy to reduce her workload somewhat.

She probably doesn’t realize how you feel about it, and may even think she is helping you. Open and friendly communication that builds on her knowledge, skills and experience seems to be the best way to handle the situation.

The requirements for gaining influence are: Be valuable, be credible, be dependable and communicate directly and often. If you can do those things you will be much more likely to gain influence with your boss and with others.

Best wishes as you develop a plan of action for this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.