Similar to this question, I have a colleague who gives me tasks/projects on a semi-regular basis. They are usually tasks someone has asked him to do, but he doesn't have the technical expertise to complete them sufficiently.

I used to work in the same division, but our division was split and my job changed from a web developer to a marketing analyst -- very different things, which I enjoy. In the division split, he took on new and more complicated duties -- without promotion. Anxious to prove his worth and distance himself from his former and more prudent manager, his public mantra is "Never Say No."

But when he over-commits he calls me. I've tried everything I can think of (and some things suggested here) to let him know that I've got other work to do now as we work to establish our new division. But to no avail. Recently, he's begun loudly branding my push-back as "not being a team player" and using it as an excuse for delays in his projects. Those excuses, of course, were then exchanged between VPs since they're trying to get his projects back on track. Eager to just get the project in front of them done, my managers aren't offering me very much support.

So how do I deal with someone who inappropriately tasks me, then complains that I'm not a team player when I push back?

(Preferably without management intervention, but all ideas welcome.)

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    What is the reason for you to push back? Are these tasks entirely unrelated to setting up your new department/your new work duties? – jmac Apr 25 '13 at 2:53
  • What are the differences between this question and the one @JimG. linked? – enderland Apr 25 '13 at 11:33
  • @jmac - Tasks are entirely unrelated. I write marketing material now, he's responsible for IT development. – Quotidian Apr 25 '13 at 11:33
  • @JimG. - The distinction comes from not having any management support. Many of my co-workers disagree with management's decision to split the division and it's become a bit of a turf war. My management is concerned with showing we're a useful and needed division, their management is concerned with bring us back into the fold. Management has a problem, they know it and are working on it, but in the meantime (which has already been 2 years) I'm doing two jobs. – Quotidian Apr 25 '13 at 11:43
  • You should approach this from a I want to achieve Y how can I do this standpoint. The question as written is a dup of the referenced question by SE Definition. It may be that you can refactor this question into something that is not a dup. But saying I have X situation what should I do is a dupe of another. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 25 '13 at 13:32

I don't think you can get out of this without engaging your current manager. The key is to communicate clearly and be so specific that it's hard to ignore or wiggle out of.

Here is something you could try

  1. To the manager: "Hey, my former colleague is asking me to do IT work for him. I'll be happy to do this if that's for the best for the company. However, the stuff that he asks me to do amounts to about 20 hours of work per week, so I can't do that work and my current assignments at the same time. Can you please help me to prioritize?"
  2. To the colleague: "Thanks for asking, I'm happy to help. However I currently have a full load of work in my new job so we need to carefully manage this. Please route all work request directly to my current manager, so that he can properly prioritize and assess the importance with respect to my other assignments"

That would set the baseline and put the decision of whether to accept or reject the requests into your manager's court (which is his job anyway). So the colleague and your boss will probably first try to ignore this, so whenever you get a new work request you can ask for a very specific decision that is difficult for the manager to weasel out of.

"John has asked me to do an oil change on the web servers. That'll take about 12 hours, so I need to either delay the brochure for the new product by a couple of days, miss the deadline on the user research report, or do the oil change. Which one would you like me to do?"

If your boss still ignores it (which would be hard in a face to face, but then again some will try), you can make the decision for him. Start adding the sentence.

"I think it's best not to do the oil change, so unless I hear otherwise from you, that's what I'll do".

And then to the requester:

"Sorry John, my manager has not given me permission to work on that. If you still feel you need this, please communicate directly with him and I'll be happy to jump on this as soon as I have his okay"

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    This. Resource allocation is always a manager's job, and when resource conflicts arise you have to involve the people who 'own' them. Man, this sounds so 14th century serfdom. – MrFox Apr 25 '13 at 12:52
  • +1 Outstanding advice. Ground-level workers should not be forced to take responsibility for the consequences of management decisions. It is your manager's job to buffer you against politic-y issues. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Jun 20 '18 at 17:44
  • +1 for the server oil. I never get it done in 12 hours... – Volker Siegel Sep 20 '18 at 21:12

I think you have a real problem of a former manager laying all the blame on you.

You 1st need to speak with your current manager and explain the situation and that you cannot do two jobs, and that your current job is your 1st priority. You also need to tell your manager that that person is laying all the blame on you in front of management

From my personal experience, if it is allowed to throw all the responsibility on you for a long time, you should consider whether you really want to work there. It is not a good environment to be in.

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