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I'm asking this question for my friend as he is not familiar with forums/discussion panel sites and this takes place in Malaysia.


He works as a graphic designer in a small event company (not more than 10 including boss himself) which will help clients to organize and manage the event. His job scope is to design several artworks related to the events such as logo, flyer, poster, banner, and more. However, due to the lack of manpower in the company, he will also has to be part of the event crew on the event day (either PA or other roles). It may sounds a bit off the job scope for me but it is fine in the perspective of as part of the team member of the company. I'm stating this out just to bring out that he has to attend the event as a crew by leaving his design-tasks aside.

His boss is engaged before my friend was hired. Keep in mind that his fiancée does not have an official position in the company but visits the office daily. As the only graphic designer in the company, my friend needs to handle every design-related tasks for every events by his own which can be seen as very tiring. However the fiancée always assigns him to do other tasks such as design poster for her mother's events and other tasks which the assigned tasks is totally personal. I presume his boss does not care yet because his boss knows about this but so far no actions was taken.

My friend is frustrated in this situation but he has no idea how and who to tell to stop accepting such tasks from his fiancée even though there may no tasks on his hand because his fiancée is not one of the company member and the events she accepting is not under company title.

Is there anyway he can speak out this issue in friendly yet effective way? He still not yet bring up this to his boss because this involves his fiancée and my friend worries that it would sound personal against his boss's fiancée in this case.

  • What exactly doesn't he like: the work he's being asked to do, or simply because it's coming from outside the normal chain of command? You said he has no other tasks on his hands - what would he generally be doing if there wasn't anything assigned? – Rup Aug 14 '18 at 8:48
  • is it impacting his ability to deliver? – WendyG Aug 14 '18 at 12:07
  • @Rup he doesn't like the tasks were assigned from outside of normal chain of command. At first he is ok to accept task but later he found out that the job the fiancee gave is not that light weight and also have to go through a lot of modification (just as normal designing work) to satisfy her. This happens when he had main tasks to do but forced to prioritized what the fiancee gave because she is monitoring the progress. So he rather reject any tasks that is not under boss's assignment – gitguddoge Aug 15 '18 at 2:49
  • @WendyG He able to deliver his main tasks while having the fiancee's work on hand is because he sacrifice his resting time to continue to finish the tasks after he went home. So I guess this is actually impacting his ability to deliver? – gitguddoge Aug 15 '18 at 2:52
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    @gitguddoge yes that is def impacting his ability to deliver, that makes this a standard manage up discussion – WendyG Aug 15 '18 at 9:32
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Your friend should take this up with his boss. If the boss is okay with his fiancee adding work to the company, then she should be handing the assignments to the boss so that he can assign it the proper priority. If the boss is not okay with it, the boss can put a stop to it.

Once it's known how the boss looks at the situation, your friend can ask the fiancee to just discuss the work with your boss and then you'll hear be assigned the work from him.

But ultimately it's up to the boss to decide which tasks are part of the business' work and which are not.

  • what if the boss thinks this is not a big deal, this continue to happen and my friend appears to hate this situation? leave the company? – gitguddoge Aug 14 '18 at 6:12
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    If you don't like the work you are assigned to do, but the boss says it's work that needs to be done, then yeah pretty much you need to start looking for somewhere else. (Note that I'm assuming he's doing this work during office hours btw. If he's doing it in his free time or working overtime for it, that would change things considerably but then you need to edit that into the question) – Erik Aug 14 '18 at 8:01
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    @gitguddoge Your friend not liking this is one thing. However, working on projects for the fiance and then being late delivering assignments for the boss is quite another. It's important to flag to the boss any risk to "real" deliverables that these side assignments may cause. If they are not standing in the way of real deliverables, then, as Kilisi says, it's probably very risky to push back against these assignments. – Eric Aug 14 '18 at 15:21
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This is pretty normal in small companies in many countries.

Refusing the bosses fiance, mother, or anyone else close to him is a bad idea. Your boss already knows his fiance is tasking you with work and he's not stopping her, use common sense if you want to remain on good terms with the people paying you.

  • So this means if he really hate being in such situation and yet boss does not intend to change this after my friend speak it out, the only solution is leave? – gitguddoge Aug 15 '18 at 2:53
  • Leave or get forced out perhaps... my wife routinely asks my workers to do things, if she came to me and said one of them was a clown, he/she would be unemployed shortly afterwards. – Kilisi Aug 15 '18 at 9:54
  • So you are an employer I assume? Would you ever judge that what your wife said about your employee is from personal or rational perspective? Your wife or you fire that employee? – gitguddoge Aug 15 '18 at 10:05
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    I wouldn't care, with many people, family comes first. If there is a dispute between my wife and anyone else, I don't care who is in the right or wrong.... I back my wife. – Kilisi Aug 15 '18 at 10:09
  • What you mentioned is not wrong at all. But in they way of profession, shouldn't the boss be the one who assigns tasks to his/her employee? Because I believe he/she is the one who knows the amount of tasks the employee is holding and boss will further decides whether to or not to assign extra tasks. – gitguddoge Aug 15 '18 at 10:17
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I would suggest to your friend to ensure the following situation is true, and if it's not, make it true:

1) The boss is OK with the fiancee giving him tasks.
2) The boss is OK with the friend doing the fiancee's tasks during work hours.
3) The boss is OK with the fiancee's tasks potentially reducing the work-related productivity of the friend.

If all these things are fine, then I see no problem; just have your friend treat the fiancee's tasks as part of his work duties. After all, he's being paid for his time, not for his work, and if his time is being spent on the fiancee's tasks and the boss knows about and is OK with that, then there's no problem.

There could be some other issues here. The main one being that the boss wants the friend to do the fiancee's tasks outside of work hours. In that case, the friend should tell the fiancee that he wants her to pay him according to his work, and they should arrange a fee for the friend to be paid, or else he should not do the work. If the boss doesn't like that, then there may be a legal case, that the boss is effectively asking the friend to perform unpaid overtime work for his fiancee unrelated to his position at the company as a condition of his employment. If it comes to that, then your friend might want to consider their legal options.

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