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I am the GIS Analyst for my company and work in the project management office. I want to preface that this isn’t a gripe about my job, I just feel the way things are being run is unsustainable.

My boss manages a team of 3 people for the project management side of her department and me for the GIS side. I have no doubt that she is busy and she focuses the entirety of her time on the project management side of her department. Currently they are working to fill a position, and she thanks me for taking the reigns and working independently. This is a constant thing, she has a large meeting and does not have time, she has a conference to prepare for and does not have time, etc. Each time thanking me for taking the reigns (I have been called a “rockstar” more times than I care to count). This has gone on essentially since I have started over 5 and a half years ago. She has no real knowledge of GIS and really can’t support me. Currently I am at a conference and my out of office reply is to contact her if someone needs immediate assistance, she would not be able to assist anyone with any request that is directed to me.

All of the counter part companies I have spoken with have multiple people on a team doing what I am doing, while I am running an enterprise system by myself. I do have an intern, but he is only part time and I often spend considerable amounts of time giving him guidance and instruction (this is not his fault he does work hard, he just lacks experience).

I cannot act as the manager and analyst much longer as I do not wield the authority of a manger and it is affecting my mental health. I regularly wake in a cold sweat due to the stress, and breakdowns are regular. The only complaint about my performance was that I looked like “Eeyore” consistently (I also have clinical major depressive disorder and an anxiety disorder), though this is largely due to the demands placed on me and the lack of recognition. I cannot continue to function in this manner, I either need support from the top down or from the bottom up.

I do not know how to approach my boss about this as I do not want it to sound like an attack. While the matter of the fact is that she essentially signs my time card, she is still my manager. Telling her what I wrote, I feel, would come off as an attack and her employee telling her, in essence, that she is not filling her job duties and that is not my place to say that.

How do approach her about this subject? I have broached the subject that I need more staff to meet the demands and she is well aware that our counterpart companies have teams doing my job. I have been told in a year when our intern graduates, but this is too little too late. We also rely on our IT department for technical support, often they are unresponsive and problems need to be escalated to higher echelons, in my roll I cannot address these issues.

I have been searching for another job as this has been too much for too long, but things like a generous pension and the pay for job title is on the high end (though I have long surpassed the duties of this job title). I enjoy what I do and want to continue to be a top performer, I just need support. We have talked about this at performance meetings and her “goal” is to have my intern move to a full time position when he is done with graduate school, which will be at least another year. Our VP appears to be very resistant to hiring more staff in all the departments he is in charge of.

Edit: It is starting appear that I have one option and that is to leave my job. I have been job searching, but I’m sure we all know that is not an easy task. I live in a very rural area so that will mean I need to relocate, which I am willing to do.

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  • Exactly what kind of support do you seek?
    – sf02
    Oct 28 '19 at 12:55
  • I need someone else who is knowledgeable in the field. We moved to a production environment and she complained three months later that our maps were not up to date. She had the test environment URL still. She did not understand the basics of the system and did not appear to pay any attention to my activities for months. Oct 28 '19 at 13:05
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    I don't think another talk will help....
    – Neo
    Oct 28 '19 at 13:05
  • Joe, I am doing as much as possible for my mental health. I don’t want to talk about the root of my other problems but we do talk about the stress of work frequent. I have been also making lifestyle changes to mitigate and heal, such as diet changes, increased exercise, and yoga. From the mental health end on my part, there is nothing more I can really do. Oct 28 '19 at 13:09
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    I believe you are asking for more authority so you can do your job better. The points in your question, as you wrote them, are excellent reasons for you to have more authority in your current job. Ask for a meeting with your supervisor and respectfully lay them out. If you get turned down, then it's time to be on your way to a better job.
    – O. Jones
    Oct 28 '19 at 14:46
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How do approach her about this subject?

There's no shame in admitting that you can't handle the requirements of the position as it currently exists.

Just talk with your manager, indicate clearly that you feel you need some help, then listen.

If you aren't seeing signs that you'll get some help, then ramp up the efforts to find a new job. A generous pension and high pay are not worth having repeated mental breakdowns.

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  • I have broached the subject that I need more staff to meet the demands and she is well aware that our counterpart companies have teams doing my job. I have been told in a year when our intern graduates, but this is too little too late. We also rely on our IT department for technical support, often they are unresponsive and problems need to be escalated to higher echelons, in my roll I cannot address these issues. Oct 28 '19 at 12:59
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How do I talk to my boss about lack of support

You are in a rather difficult situation. My first suggestion would be to come up with a data driven presentation as to why you need extra help. Be clear in terms of why you need the support, and also how many resources you need and at what cost.

I think the real problem is that you have been doing a good enough job on your own with your intern. In fact, you may be doing so good on your own with a part time intern that they are okay with the results, and how it impacts you.

Your manager already knows your over worked, based on your prior conversations. Another talk with your manager probably isn't going to help.

A possible course of action

Besides looking for another job, which you already are doing, try backing off a bit in terms of productivity. This should help your mental state a bit by not working too hard where it clearly is being taken advantage of.

Work your 40 hours a week, and do the bare minimum to get the job done. When and if they ask what is going on, show them your plan, demonstrate the amount of effort your expending while explaining that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have.

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    I believe this is the case, why would they hire support for someone that is meeting the expectations. I believe my boss also gives her managers the impression she is playing a larger roll. At our quarterly meeting with senior management, she will interrupt me when she can so she can speak and then use terms like “we worked on”, when she has done nothing. I feel that she is fearful manager. Oct 28 '19 at 13:13
  • This will be hard for you to overcome, even if you employ my strategy.
    – Neo
    Oct 28 '19 at 13:16
  • I am also concerned that this strategy would lead to a performance improvement plan. There are days where I am unable to concentrate due to the stress and my productivity decreases significantly. This is a well studies psychological effect of stress but I fear it would be used against me. Oct 28 '19 at 13:17
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    @Pete You have to meet the minimums. Just don't exceed expectations.
    – Neo
    Oct 28 '19 at 13:18
  • One of the issues I face is often not meeting the expectations. Not for the reason that I am not putting in the work, but we need to work with our IT department and often situations need to be elevated. We put off production for almost two years because technical issues that I cannot address. While I have a good relationship with our IT staff they are also at the will of their manager. I’ve been told to document things for the last three years. To meet the expectations of our system I need her support as well to make gears move that are beyond my reach. Oct 28 '19 at 13:26
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I know you said:

Telling her what I wrote, I feel, would come off as an attack and her employee telling her, in essence, that she is not filling her job duties and that is not my place to say that.

But I don't entirely agree. I don't think you're attacking your manager in this post and a lot of the issues you've raised here are genuine problems in the role. Maybe try leaving out bits where you've specifically said you're doing her job, but I doubt she'd have too many arguments with:

Please feel free to disagree, but I don't think you be able to assist anyone with any request that is directed to me? I understand you're busy, but it's difficult to be the only contact on xyz whilst balancing conferences and time off work. Having someone else on my team would alleviate some of this pressure on both me and you.

One way to look at is is, what if I were to get hit by a car tomorrow? There is no one else to pick up my role, it would take x months to get someone new trained up. Explain the impact of that on the business (I assume it would have a significant impact).

I wouldn't normally recommend this (threatening to quit is usually a bad idea), but once you have exhausted most other avenues, maybe try playing hard ball. It sounds like you're not expendable at all to the company.

Sit down and have another meeting with your manager where you say that this job is impacting your mental health and you are in the process of looking elsewhere. Mention that you love the role and the company, but you simply cannot continue to do the job of X number of people by yourself as it is running you into the ground. You'd prefer not to need to move and you understand it's a drastic step, but you really see no other choice if things continue as they are.

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    This may happen this week. I am at a conference and due to a software bug and IT pushing iOS13 updates our mobile webs will be down. I made a document for a workaround, but our field crews often need one on one guidance to get these things to work. My out of office email has always been to contact her, she will not be able to handle and of these issues. I feel this is somewhat passive aggressive but I may have no other option to let it burn for a while. Oct 28 '19 at 13:43
  • @Pete at this point, it might be what is required. It needed come across as passive aggressive if she doesn't know that's what you're doing. Let the issue be escalated for a few hours and them jump in as the "hero" - Oh sorry I had my phone off in an important lecture/meeting - This is then a good jumping off point to employ tactics (A) in my answer
    – Gamora
    Oct 28 '19 at 13:48
  • I am an indispensable, and she has used the words “if you’re hit by a truck” when she asks me write out processes of every activity that I do. Essentially a click by click tutorial or all my job duties. I have made a few but it’s not reasonable for me to write a book explaining how to run a GIS at “x type of company”. She has had a previous intern make a glossary of terms for her when the company that makes our software has a hyperlinked alphabetical list. Oct 28 '19 at 13:48
  • She'd got to understand that - at some point - not all tasks can be done purely from reading instructions.
    – Gamora
    Oct 28 '19 at 13:49
  • I agree, there are so many factors that go into this. The software company also has very good documentation, so it feels like it’s just redoing work that has already been done. Oct 28 '19 at 13:54
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Just reading your edit regarding finding a new job. If you don't want to find a new job, here are some ideas you could consider:

  • If you work in the US, "clinical major depressive disorder and an anxiety disorder" are considered disabilities and your employer must make "reasonable accommodations" for you. I'm not exactly sure how or what they need to do in your case, but I recommend looking into that further. https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/mental_health.cfm

  • Also, maybe you should ask for more authority, a promotion, and more compensation/salary increase to go along with your job responsibilities.

There's a question about discussing depression with your boss, if you have this concern. Should an employee tell their supervisor about their depression?

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