I have a colleague who is the newest member of the team, with us for about 6 months.

As a team we do help each other out sometimes, if one person is inundated with tasks, it’s normal for them to ask someone else to take one off them. The general understanding is that everyone is accountable for ensuring their own work gets done, ideally by self.

This may sound incredibly petty but I took issue with this new colleague yesterday. She asked me to do 6 different tasks, most or all of which she should be capable of, all in the one breath. I was almost maxed out on my own work. When asked to do the first thing I agreed amiably, because I took it that she was inundated. But as she continued the balance seemed to shift dramatically.

Should I speak to her? If so, how should I approach her? We are between managers at the moment, so I don’t have someone above me to get guidance from. While polite, her manner was bossy, and I don’t want to be an egomaniac but I am the supervisor within the team, so I found it quite jarring.

Edit: while similar I don’t believe this question is directly answered elsewhere. Rather than someone in a position of power or trying to retain control, this is the person at the bottom who is creating imbalance in the workplace possibly due to ignorance or another motive.

  • "I am the supervisor within the team" Can you edit to clarify the reporting structure? You're the supervisor - does she report to you? Or is she your peer?
    – dwizum
    May 17, 2018 at 15:53
  • 4
    Possible duplicate of I feel like my coworker gives me all the work
    – gnat
    May 17, 2018 at 16:14
  • We are effectively peers. I get paid a little more and organise working schedules and oversee how we’re doing with overall workload, but we would have all reported directly to the manager.
    – Gecko
    May 17, 2018 at 17:18
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How to deal with a bossy coworker
    – Jay
    Aug 30, 2019 at 2:53

2 Answers 2


Helping your colleagues is good, but if it goes to an extreme then it stops being healthy. I am sure that you also have tasks of your own to handle besides these ones you are helping her with.

I suggest that you are clear and direct with her, but without being rude, something like:

Hey Jane, I know you asked me to do these 6 tasks. I am always glad to help you, but I am afraid I also have some tasks of my own on the stack. Surely I can help you with these X tasks, but for the others perhaps you may ask someone else, as I have my hands full at the moment.


In particular if you're the supervisor, I would approach this slightly differently. Focus on why she's reassigning so many tasks.

Hey Jane, it seems like you're having a hard time keeping on top of your workload, given that you've asked me to do six tasks in the last three days for you. Let's have a chat about how you can better manage your workload so you're able to handle the tasks that are assigned to you.

The idea is to find out whether she's having a hard time with things because of ability (she's new, maybe she doesn't know as much and things take her longer), work ethic, or she actually is being over-assigned.

Additionally, you can talk with her about building some soft skills - for example, how to handle additional assignments when given to her when she's already very busy; how to better manage her time; how to use Jira or whatever you use to indicate how long things will take; how to better estimate time.

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