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I've been with my company for ~5 or so years at this point. I started as a summer intern for the first 3 or so years and became an hourly employee ~2 years ago. I work full time during the summer and part time during the school year. The past year and a half has been perfectly fine. I've been given a good work load and have completed everything in the allotted timeframes. The problem begins when this school year started in early August.

My supervisor got a promotion but is still above me. Next, one of my team members quit and instead of hiring a replacement, they just split up her duties between the remainder of my team. My supervisor also now seems to have forgotten that I am part time and assigns me work that I have to neglect school work to finish. In addition, because my coworker has quit, I am now basically doing two full time jobs in 16 hours a week. I'm stressed to the point I have nervous breakdowns once a week or more.

My biggest problem is that I don't want to leave my job because I get paid well (At least when I'm working full time) and the company did a lot for me after a horrific family emergency. In addition, I'll have problems paying for school and a place to live if I leave my job. My supervisor and I used to have a great relationship and they told me I can come to them anytime but with what is happening now, they seems entirely unapproachable.

I guess my question is:

  • What do I do? My supervisor didn't even show up to our monthly meeting where we are supposed to talk about our job and how we're doing. I waited on the phone for over an hour and texted her to ask if she was still coming as well.

UPDATE I ended up putting in my resignation letter 2 months after posting this. our company was purchased and that shakeup was what caused this. To clarify, my manager is a great person and we are still friends. It was my manager's boss' manager that was the person who could not properly scope work and was dumping tasks on my manager. After leaving, I was later rehired by the company after the transition was more complete and now am in a MUCH better position! My previous job no longer exists so it actually worked out that I quit. There was no way I could have passed the courses I was doing with that job.

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    Cut back on work immediately (down to the agreed 16h)! Nobody will thank you for burning yourself out and every aspect of your life will suffer for it. I've been there and had to learn it the hard way. – Kempeth Oct 6 '17 at 7:17
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You don't quit, but you do need to speak to your supervisor. Remind her again (either on the phone or by email) that you are now only working 16 hours a week while you attend school.

And, when she gives you work, you ask her for its priority. Tell her what you're already working on and ask if the new work should be done instead. If you don't have some other system, make up a card or post-it or spreadsheet of the work that needs to be done, and ask where this new task should go, so you are working on the highest priority tasks first. (The lower priority ones simply won't get done.)

Do what you can, and let the rest go. If the work doesn't get done, that's on the company - it is their responsibility to hire enough people to do the work they want done. If they aren't doing that, then it must be ok that the work isn't completed. It is not your responsibility to get the work done: your responsibility is to do good work in the time you are working there.

Also, don't neglect your school work! That is an investment in your future and this is just a job. It's a good job and does get some priorities, but don't give it your life.

This is from the comments, and it's too important to not quote it here too: "If your manager says "everything is top priority", then you are better at judging priorities, because your manager has just demonstrated that he or she is either unwilling or incapable of doing so. Deciding priorities just requires a decision. The quote wasn't about making the best possible decision - it was about functioning in the presence of too much work. Do some stuff, then go home, and don't worry about what is not done. And remember, all you did was top priority according to the manager - no way to do anything wrong." - gnasher729

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    Never accept it is all top priority. You keep pushing for the order you are to do things. And do not work more than your assigned hours. Make sure when something is moved down in the list, that you notify the stakeholders of how long the work will be delayed. This is a critical job skill, to push back on unreasonable expectations. – HLGEM Oct 5 '17 at 21:10
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    To paraphrase the Incredibles; When everything is top priority, nothing is. – Trebor Oct 6 '17 at 8:41
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    @CSRenA A tip for dealing with priority. When you receive a new piece of work, say something like "Thanks, I'm currently working on X and it'll be finished by Y. Do you want me to continue or drop it and do this instead?" You can often take a similar approach wrt hours by accepting the work but saying "t'll be done by Z" (taking your hours into account). If the time is challenged remind your boss that you're on 16 hours. – Alex Oct 6 '17 at 12:21
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    If your supervisor is incapable of setting priorities, then you set the priorities. In the words of Lee Iacocca (former Chrysler CEO), how to handle too much work: "In the morning, I decide what's the most important thing to do. Then I do it, and then I go home. Everything else, I ignore. Next morning, I decide again what's the most important thing to do. " – gnasher729 Oct 6 '17 at 15:46
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    @Alex: If your manager says "everything is top priority", then you are better at judging priorities, because your manager has just demonstrated that he or she is either unwilling or incapable of doing so. Deciding priorities just requires a decision. The quote wasn't about making the best possible decision - it was about functioning in the presence of too much work. Do some stuff, then go home, and don't worry about what is not done. And remember, all you did was top priority according to the manager - no way to do anything wrong. – gnasher729 Oct 6 '17 at 21:02

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