Yesterday our manager asked why we hadn’t been doing a certain regular task. One of our staff who left in the summer had 3 hours a week scheduled to do this, and was always raising the concern that this wasn’t nearly enough time to keep on top of it. After her departure we expected a new hiring but we didn’t get one. The rest of us are in a similar position with our tasks, never given enough time for the work. So of course we could barely touch the work she left behind. We absolutely raised the need for more staff on numerous occasions and even cited the figures that the task in question was at.

Of course when nothing happened we pretty much gave up and got on with our own work since it really is the manager’s job to assign everything.

Now the task is in a disgraceful state, and the manager came in yesterday saying that we don’t care and she doesn’t know why we haven’t done it. It’s blatantly obvious that we already have 5 hours worth of work to do in each 4 hour session so I was so incredulous I didn’t respond.

Should I respond? Should I write a doc with evidence of all the reminders we gave and then one showing all the work we’re currently submerged under? Or is there no point? The manager also says we don’t work as a team but I think we’re a pretty great team!

Edit: thank you everyone for your input, I really do appreciate it. I may have been unclear in my story, so just to clarify: this is one task of many that are regularly incomplete. We are doing the highest priority stuff each day and that keeps our heads above water but we first flagged the issue up a year ago (with the figures) and since then we have lost 2-3 people which have never been replaced. That’s a lot for a team of 7 who were once 10 and weren’t completing everything even back then.

The only way physically for me to do even a half hour of work thats not specifically assigned to me personally would be half an hour overtime. And I’m already working flat out, so I really don’t feel the kind of loyalty that would make me stretch my working week even further. The manager has never assigned this particular task to anyone since June, so I honestly do believe the fault is hers. If she assigns it to one of us she has to drop something that’s top priority to do so.

  • Do you have any tracked time/task management system that you and your colleague can use to demonstrate that the time simply isn't available?
    – user34587
    Nov 15, 2018 at 14:12
  • No, not as such. If we were observed for the day it would be evident, and there are certain things we do that have a time stamp, but a lot of phone calls and other things we don’t personally get to see time stamps for. I know we’re overworked by the amount of things still to action by the end of a session.
    – Koobina
    Nov 15, 2018 at 14:15
  • When citing the figures was is verbal or on some kind of presentation, email? If it was written email her the same figures again. Ask your colleagues if it will be ok if you CC them so they will have CYA argument to not taking this task and working as a team to stand by argument you don't have time. Nov 15, 2018 at 14:22
  • Yes one was a letter and an email so could def email both! Will it be red rag to a bull though since the implication is that it’s her fault and she strongly wants to blame us? I’m
    – Koobina
    Nov 15, 2018 at 14:28
  • 3
    Uh, duh. Of course she wants to blame you, as she is incompetent and unfit for her job. Find out why she's riding you about something no one cared for months. Find out if she really wants it done or it's just someone's power play. Act accordingly. If she really needs it done, ask for re-prioritising of current task so the important thing gets done first, then you start working on whatever's left. If it's a power play, or she just wants to ride you to show people she's the boss, I'd say stay out of it. IMO your a*s is covered if you have emails telling her it can't be done on time.
    – BoboDarph
    Nov 15, 2018 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


You said it yourself, "the manager’s job to assign everything". The "not enough time" aspect of this is her problem, not yours.

Ask your manager to set your priorities.

I haven't been doing X because I've been doing C&D. This normally takes me 40 hours. The rest of the team has been doing E,F,etc. X was clearly the lowest priority. X is maybe 10 hours a week to do right, it has about 100 hours of backlog built into it because it hasn't been a priority in a while. Do you want me to drop C or D to do X?


since it really is the manager’s job to assign everything.

You are correct that it is the manager's job to assign tasks, but at the same time you need to be proactive about tasks that are assigned to you. Rather than just giving up on your work because you don't have enough time you should reach out to your manager ( always keep a written trail ) with something like:

Hello boss, we have been assigned tasks A, B, C, and D. We won't have enough time to complete all of these tasks so how should these tasks be prioritized?

Also, it isn't enough to just send questions/reminders and then simply do nothing if there is no response, you have to follow up and figure out why there is no response and what you can do to get the proper response and be a more productive employee.

  • 2
    @WendyG It's not really anyone's job. It can mane someone's job a lot easier and more pleasant. There are bad managers out there, and if you can manage them somewhat you'll be in better shape. Nov 15, 2018 at 16:37
  • @WendyG I wouldn't consider asking questions and following up on them as managing the manager
    – sf02
    Nov 15, 2018 at 16:39
  • once you have reminded your boss more than twice it is managing "We absolutely raised the need for more staff on numerous occasions"
    – WendyG
    Nov 15, 2018 at 16:41
  • @WendyG yeah, but it's not clear if the OP ever stated that they cannot finish the assigned task because of this. Occasionally complaining about lack of staff doesn't mean that you can drop assigned tasks without further clarification.
    – user94342
    Nov 15, 2018 at 17:26
  • @sboesch It sounds like OP knows very well why they need more staff, and very likely has done more than occasionally vaguely complaining. Moreover, what assigned task do you think OP dropped? The one the manager is complaining about has had nobody assigned since June. Nov 15, 2018 at 23:20

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