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How do I keep my job?

  1. Aug 29, 2015 #1
    The supervisor on my shift keeps piling on his work onto me. He's technically not my boss but he does outrank me. How should I hand this situation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2015 #2


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    Start by speaking to your supervisor!
  4. Aug 29, 2015 #3
    Problem is we're both shy, quiet, and passive-aggressive. We both struggle coming up with things to say, especially me. When I tell him I need to work on my project and assignment, he threatens me. He tells me my top priority is helping him; everything else comes afterward. He talks to me like I'm stupid.
  5. Aug 29, 2015 #4


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    I think what HallsofIvy meant was that you should start by talking to your actual boss.

    In situations like this it's important to be aware of what the reporting relationships, responsibilities, etc. really are, and get them in writing if at all possible. I've seen many situations like yours arise where the specific reporting structure is ambiguous and certain personality types try to take advantage of that situation. I've also seen situations where people like this supervisor simply don't know the rules, and are operate under assumptions. Sometime, these can even come through complete misunderstandings where the other person may believe he or she is helping you by giving you extra responsibilities or opportunities.

    In these situations the first step is establishing what your responsibilities actually are and making sure that those you interact with know what they are too. For the record it sounds like you are already aware of these, but remember - articulation is power.

    So explain the situation to your boss, explain what you understand your responsibilities to be and how you feel this person is hampering or interfering with your ability to get those done. In situations like this, it's often the boss's job to make sure that those who report to him or her are able to accomplish the tasks they are responsible for. That means that your boss should probably talk with this person if indeed he has crossed the line.

    You should also make and keep a record of all inappropriate interactions with this person. If he has in fact threatened you, that constitutes workplace harassment or bullying. Write down all the details - time, location, specifics about what was said, how you felt, etc. This way, if it ever comes up, you won't have to rely on memory under stress when challenged with a question like "how did I ever threaten you?"

    Good luck with it. I hope you're able to resolve it.
  6. Aug 29, 2015 #5
    Yeah my boss is aware of it and I think had a talk with the 2nd shift supervisor. It's just we're on the midshift 3p-midnight so our boss is not around so the supervisor tries to see what he can get away with. He wants me to complain because it will make me look bad. I've talked to my project lead and he's overturned a lot of the stuff that this person is trying to have me do, which is technically not my work but his. It's just my lead is on the day shift so he's gone when I'm coming into work, so he can only do so much. So the 2nd shift supervisor knows he can intimidate me into helping him do his work. I don't want to complain anymore to my boss and lead because complaining will for sure get me laid off even though my complaints are valid. I just avoid the 2nd shift supervisor as much as possible; that's all I can do because I'm weak.
  7. Aug 30, 2015 #6


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    Subscribing to the notion that you are weak is your own choice and a malleable one. You can change this if you choose.

    You might also want to consider the consequences of not doing this other person's work. If it really is his work, then won't he be the one who feels the heat if it doesn't get done?

    How is this person intimidating you? Is he making physical threats? Is he threatening to give you a poor report which could lead to you being passed over for promotion or a raise? Is it a presence of character type of thing?

    If you have your own tasks or project to work on, when you're asked to work on something else, why not try telling this person that you're too busy? Ideally you should tell him that you don't think it's your responsibility, but if that's too hard you can try telling him that you'd love to help, but because you're busy with your own work, you can't do both that and what he's asking you to do, and do a good job at both.
  8. Aug 30, 2015 #7
    It's a presence of character thing. He threatens to give me a poor report. He also scares me by saying we're going to go see our boss. He says things like, "If you don't want to help me we could go see the manager but it's not going to look good for you." I say okay, prepare, worry all weekend and we never go see the manager. It's all a bluff. When I tell him I'm busy with a project he tells me, "Your first priority is helping me. Everything else comes afterward. You're my backup." I've gotten to the point where I'm scared of him and avoid him at all costs. This makes him mad and he gets even more intimidating. It's not a good situation; it keeps devolving.
  9. Sep 3, 2015 #8


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    It seems to me that you need to have a clearer description of your responsibilities. You said you report to the guy on the morning shift, but he's not around on the mid-shift you work on. It might be helpful to get the morning guy, the guy on your shift, and their manager all together in a room with you, to lay out exactly what you and the other two guys should be doing. If you do this from the perspective of getting clarification, it won't seem as much like complaining. The first-shift supervisor isn't around when you're working, but he might be amenable to sticking around for a short meeting after his shift, or possibly you and the second-shift guy could come in a little early.
    "we're" = you and the guy on the first shift?
    Being shy and quiet doesn't help your case, and being passive-aggressive really doesn't help your case, and probably hurts it. The only thing I can say is that not speaking up for yourself could cause problems with your health, not to mention that not standing up for yourself could put your position in jeopardy.
  10. Sep 3, 2015 #9
    It's me and the 2nd shift guy who are both passive and quiet. That's why we clash. He's said we were going to go see our boss to clarify my responsibilities; he's even used it as a threat to try to get me to do his work. I worry and prepare for the meeting and it never happens. He knows it's his responsibilities; because I have to do a lot of it using his login. So there's no record of my having done it. It looks like he did it. This is a case of him seeing what he can get away with. I have a weak personality and people do this to me in life as well as at work. I don't go to our boss because I don't want to get him in trouble.
  11. Sep 3, 2015 #10


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    If it's done with his login, and it looks like it's his work, start making mistakes.

    But seriously, you need to send an e-mail, (read receipt if you have that), keep copies, or a letter to *your* supervisor stating what is happening. Do it nicely, just say that you are confused by this other supervisor giving you his work to do and since you are having to login using his passwords that this could be considered a code of conduct violation or security violation, you don't want to violate company policy. Ask if this is something that you are supposed to do. If you have an HR department you might want to copy them or suggest that you will be checking with HR about the rules on this. Or at this point, if you feel that your actual supervisor is going to just ignore you, go directly to HR, but I'd give him a heads up first so that he doesn't feel that you threw him under the bus without a chance to set things straight. I think knowing that you are *concerned* enough about correct work practices to consult with HR if he isn't available might be enough to have this stopped.

    It's up to you, either you really wish to have this stopped, or the extra work is arranged for according to company policy. or you find another job.
  12. Sep 3, 2015 #11
    Thanks Evo. I thought this situation could use a woman's touch.
  13. Sep 5, 2015 #12
    Now, what do I need to become one of the hottest engineers in the country?
  14. Sep 8, 2015 #13
    Do people change or is it best to just accept that they are a certain way?
  15. Sep 8, 2015 #14


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    People's core personalities rarely change, but the way they view and handle certain day-to-day situations can be influenced and perhaps eventually changed. This is really too broad a topic to give a definite answer on. Sometimes what looks like a big change in a person is actually the expression of a small change. Sometimes big changes happen within someone, but you'd never even know it.
  16. Sep 8, 2015 #15
    How do you deal with someone who tries to see what they can get away with? Is this just part of human nature? I feel like some people try to take advantage of me and use me because they think they can. I don't know what to make of it. I don't think it makes them bad people. Is this just life?
  17. Sep 8, 2015 #16


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    I don't have an answer for you other than to say know your own responsibilities and where to draw the line.

    Yes, it's just life. That doesn't mean you're powerless though.

    Why don't you want to get him in trouble? Will it make you feel bad?

    All I can really tell you is that you have to be willing to overcome your 'weak personality' and take care of yourself. I too consider myself to have a weak personality, but over time I've learned that the best way to keep people from using you is to know your own responsibilities and to realize that if someone is using you, it is their fault and they need to stop. It generally doesn't help anyone to keep them around. Someone who uses you is bad for you and bad for the company and more people would be better off than would be worse off if you stand up for yourself.
  18. Sep 8, 2015 #17


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    Make sure the meeting happens. Call the 2nd shift guy's bluff here by contacting your mutual boss to confirm that the meeting is going to take place
    "him" = who? The 2nd shift guy or the boss? I guess you mean the 2nd shift guy, but what is your concern about getting him in trouble? Your goal is not to get anybody in trouble, but to lay out clear lines of demarcation about who has what responsibilities.

    It's part of some peoples' nature. People with weak personalities (as you admitted above) attract bullies and others who seek to take advantage of them.
    The behavior you described certainly is not that of what I would call a good person.

    You're obviously unhappy about your work situtation, with a lot of your unhappiness directly attributable to the 2nd shift guy taking advantage of you to get you to do some of his work, with no recognition of your contributions. As I see things, you have two choices:
    1. accept the situtation for what it is, and quit complaining about it
    2. take ownership of the situation and do something about it.
    If you choose the latter option, go to the boss, either with the 2nd shift guy or without him, and explain the situation to the boss. If your boss agrees with the 2nd shift guy that you should do some of the 2nd shift guy's work, tell your boss that you're happy to do that, but you won't be able to do some part of your own work.
    It is unless you do something about it.

    @Evo had this to say:
    I couldn't agree more with this and the rest of her advice.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
  19. Sep 8, 2015 #18
    Did Thomas Edison use Nikolas Tesla, cheat him, and throw him away? Maybe the 2nd shift supervisor thinks he's just being business-minded like Edison.
  20. Sep 9, 2015 #19


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    Yeah, right.

    What you're rationalizing as "business-minded" just seems predatory to me.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  21. Sep 9, 2015 #20
    A couple of things I see from Om's workplace
    • it doesn't seem to have a good reporting system along with a transparent project and task management system. The management seems fully hierarchical. This is real bad in several points (e.g value realization becomes harder; equal opportunity fails to meet employees' perspectives, wishes; creativity among employees gets killed or suppressed, project iterations become hard to be completed within its scheduled durations, etc.)
    • Fears and challenges for Om are defined but clearly are too hard to defy because of her inborn indecisive capability. It seems to me that Om always tries to appear in office as the smartest employee, one who is ready to do everything to help everyone especially when the boss or leaders are around. Between being able to work on the job and getting bullied by a supervisor, that she doesn't know what to do best for her seems to me that she hasn't been realizing the paradox of choice she has to make; she is obsessed with framed (I call it myself) or defined responsibilities and so may not produce fruitful results. Only those who are fully responsible for a project will be allowed to claim the priority of what to and not to do in the project.
    • You don't show any of your self-trust. It's your skills to get hired and paid by the company, not the guy sitting next to you. Seeing how he asks you to do stuff gives me a feeling that your skills are not bad. You can make use of this to make you and what you have done transparent to all other people in the company if the assigned tasks are unfortunately not well documented somewhere as records. Other than that you may ask the guy to assign the tasks via...e.g email and cc'ing your project manager so that the latter will understand the effort and time you have spent on other tasks to relocate you with more time over his to you.
    To me there are only bad choices and nothing like "I didn't make a choice" because not making a choice actually, already a choice itself. Don't worry much about piled up works you have to finish. It's a good chance for you to learn to refuse people's presents and to be humble everywhere later in life. :DD
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
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