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My boss wants to hire another person in our team but I’m of the opinion we don’t need another person.

We are currently a team of 3, my boss, me and a colleague under my guidance.

The company we work for has recently been sold to new owners who have identified issues in our department that need resolving in the next few months. After a meeting with the new owners and my boss to talk about the current issues and what is required to resolve them, I am not seeing anything that cannot be completed with our current staff well within the time frame.

I’m reluctant about hiring a new person because this will take time away from my day to day work to train them. Unfortunately the new job role will not be straight forward where they can be set with a job to do and be left alone to complete it. There are a lot of different elements to learn.

My colleague and I work in the same office, where the new person will also be based, but our boss works from home. The training and managing of this new person will inevitably fall to me. I’m not sure my boss sees that.

We can have moments where it feels like we have too much to do, but then also I can still sometimes struggle to find work for my colleague to do.

It’s very unlikely my boss is hiding future extra work that’s planned. I have mentioned to my boss that there may not be enough work to give and that I don’t think another team member is needed, but she still remains convinced we need another team member.

Am I wrong? I honestly don’t think I have underestimated our work load. What should I do?

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  • And yes, I’m aware that this is the opposite to what usually happens where employees want more staff but management doesn’t want to hire :) – mdk99 Feb 20 at 16:40
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    So have you asked the boss the reasons they want to hire another employee? Is your reluctance not wanting the responsibility of training this individual. Finding work to keep your team busy is a problem your boss should solve, have you brought up that issue, to your boss? You don’t seem to indicate these issues don’t actually exist. – Donald Feb 20 at 17:02
  • Do you know the future plans for the department/company? Why should you worry; As to training, it is a good educational experience for both the trainer and the trainee. – Ed Heal Feb 20 at 17:28
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    "And unfortunately the new job role will not be straight forward where they can be set with a job to do and be left alone to complete it" - your boss may well be aware and concerned that you have a very low bus factor right now. Sure, you're not that busy now, but if one of you leaves then the other could be overwhelmed before a replacement is ready. – Julia Hayward Feb 21 at 15:59
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    So what happens if your colleague is gets injured or sick and can't work for more than a month? What if they're permanently disabled? If your job is complex and requires extended amount of training, wouldn't it be better to train someone before you actually need them? What if your boss wants to grow the team - wouldn't you rather train one persona and have them train the new people? – ColleenV Feb 22 at 22:28
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I have mentioned to my boss that there may not be enough work to give and that I don’t think another team member is needed, but she still remains convinced we need another team member.

You've voiced your concerns. At this point it isn't up to you. The decision belongs to your boss. Let it go.

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    Yes. This is the right path. The reason he's called "The Boss" is because he makes these decisions. You can provide input, but you cannot force the outcome. If you try, you'll make your Boss's life harder. – Edwin Buck Feb 20 at 18:44
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    This is also a thing called the Bus factor, which they are likely factoring in. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor – Simon O'Doherty Feb 20 at 23:08
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There are a large number of possible explanations, which are not mutually exclusive:

  1. Your boss thinks that the remaining work will take more time than you do. Either of you might be wrong.
  2. Your boss wants to get the remaining work done faster than you do.
  3. Your boss plans on doing more work than you know about. I wouldn't call that "hiding" unless it's somehow relevant to your job in particular.
  4. Your boss thinks that there's slack in both the schedule and the budget, and has decided to proactively spend some time and money hiring and training a new person, because eventually there will always be more work.
  5. Your boss wants you to gain experience in training people, either to "demonstrate leadership experience" (for your performance review, or whatever your company does instead of performance reviews), or because your boss wants you to move into management and this is a first step towards that goal.
  6. Your boss plans on moving you or your colleague onto another team, and needs a replacement.
  7. Your boss is engaged in some form of empire-building, and believes that having more reports will increase their clout.
  8. In a larger workplace, you cannot "just hire people" whenever you want. The total number of new hires over the whole company is capped and budgeted in the form of "open headcount." Your boss has the right to hire a new person now, but if they do not use that right in the near future, it might be given to another team that actually wants to hire a new person. Your boss prefers not to lose this right, since they might need someone in the future, so they have to hire someone now.

Without more information, all I can do is speculate. Depending on your job, your office culture, etc., some of these options will probably be obviously ridiculous to you, and others may seem reasonable. If any of these items seem both likely and concerning to you, then you may want to diplomatically approach your boss about the underlying issues. Or perhaps not, depending on the severity of the issue (I would not recommend a discussion of empire-building, for example).

Regardless, you (probably) should not continue on the "we don't need another person" line of argument. Your boss has already heard you say that and disagreed with you. Further discussion might be seen as insubordination. Even if it isn't, you probably won't change your boss's mind with a direct argument along those lines. Hiring someone is a big deal, and your boss has (probably) already carefully considered the matter.

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  • I would add to this possible list: boss isn't aware of how intensive it would be to have to train the new person (either due to underestimating or not understanding how much is involved) so has the headcount for a new person, thinks it will help out with the workload without appreciating the impact in ramping up. – seventyeightist Feb 21 at 20:30
  • On number 8 (headcount and don't want to lose it) agree that this is a possibility, but an observation that that's a recipe for poor morale for both the existing team and the new hire! And opens the whole team up to layoffs since they now have a lot of "slack" next time costs need to be cut - and it may not be the new hire that gets laid off! The other side of #8 is a question that has a few variants here: I've been hired but not being given any work. – seventyeightist Feb 21 at 20:34
  • Another possible reason, if the boss is also doing technical tasks, it may be that she wants to offload those onto someone new. – pboss3010 Feb 23 at 18:41
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Your boss may have different priorities than you do. Managers tend to want to enlarge their teams for reasons that have nothing to do with short term goals.

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This can also be because the boss want to spread the risk. If you are the person with all the knowledge, it can be very bad at the moment you decide to start some where else and they loose all in house knowledge.

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Your new boss may very well think about increasing the part of the business that you and your colleagues are supporting. Which should mean more revenue, more profit, but also more work. So while you looked at where the business is today, he or she might be looking at where they want the business to be in six months times.

If nothing changes, you'll have either a more comfortable life soon, or you will be able to do the same job at higher quality, so no reason to want to resist this move too much. If the boss wants to change things and just hasn't told you of their plans, trying to stop his plans will count against you at some point.

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The job I'm currently in is exactly such one. One of my colleagues was of the opinion that I'm not needed when I was being interviewed. The others - including my boss - were more realistic on the long term.

That one colleague will always (always!) tell you he has nothing to do. What he means, in fact, is, he has nothing to do which he feels meaningful to the company. But whenever I (or someone else) ask him to do stuff X, because there's lots of work to do, he says, but I'm still working on three support tickets (in parallel), am supervising the working student, have to support employee Y at issue Z...

He always works overtime, though he's got "nothing to do". If you give him projects, he constantly misses deadlines, because... well, he works on several other things as well.

Now let's go on to my job. My boss stated in the interview, he's got enough employees for the current work... But he has several additional projects in mind that his staff won't be sufficient for. Of course these projects still didn't exist, therefore seemingly no one was needed... But there was also no one free to realize the boss's dreams. I was a long-term investment. My work didn't bring in immediate profit, and of course in the beginning I cost him a lot being trained and instructed. I was hired as a backup so, in time, I'm trained and instructed well enough to realise his dreams.

I've been there for two years by now and I can tell you, I'm working full-time, most times even some overtime, and I've got a desk full of To-Dos. The boss's dreams we separate between colleagues, so everyone has interesting new projects... Everyone, except one - because that one constantly misses deadlines. That one is still complaining - now as then - that we don't have meaningful projects to hire new employes.

Now look at your situation. You're complaining that you won't find the time to train and instruct a new employee. Whenever you are in exactly that situation is the right time to hire someone new... because you're working at your limits. Whatever your boss dreams of, you will have to push it back, because you don't have the time for it. I'm also pretty sure that you don't have the time to realise your own good ideas - lacking time.

So if the money situation of your company is not precarious, now is the time to hire someone new.

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  • Your post and reality are 2 different things. Employees also plan and manage their work, not just managers. Employees need to pretend to be busy even though there isn't much to do. It prevents them to be overloaded or work on stupid projects that their managers came up with and have nothing to do with their role... – Grasper Feb 23 at 19:25
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The outcome will depend on the person who is hired. If they are to become your responsibility, you should ideally have a major voice in choosing the person -- and this is something you can and should ask for. If not, you have every right to be deeply annoyed.

On the other hand, saying you don't want the headcount to expand is a hard sell, if the decision has been made to do so.

Regarding the effect on your ability to do work, patiently explain to your boss that this move will increase the % of your time spent doing management functions, decrease the number of hours available to non-management functions that you currently do. Maybe you would be more comfortable if your pay was adjusted accordingly, etc.

However, if you object, one likely response from your boss is "don't worry, she/he won't report to you", while still having informal responsibility by default (i.e. consumes time, no reward).

So perhaps consider this situation an opportunity for you to help determine the degree to which the new hire reports to you. In such a small group, the concept of org structure is all a gray area, in my experience anyhow.

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  • The question is about whether that is even necessary. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Feb 21 at 0:25
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen - That isn't something this community can answer. – Donald Feb 21 at 13:40
  • @Donald Well, that is what the community is being asked. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Feb 21 at 14:46
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    It is an ambiguous situation with no opportunity for a definitive answer, so it is likely to be viewed negatively by the norms of most stack exchange forums. But many of the more interesting and worthwhile questions are of this type, IMO – Pete W Feb 21 at 15:12
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The implicit assumption in your question is that your boss wants another employee because she thinks the team currently lacks man/womanpower to do the necessary tasks. However this is not necessarily the case, it might also be that she just wants another peon to enlarge her team, which would give her more status and possibly a larger paycheck. So your thoughts about whether or not an extra employee is actually needed might be totally irrelevant to her.

Read my favorite book about the workplace, Bullshit Jobs for more information about this and other similar workplace phenomena.

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Your boss is the one who's in communication with the new owners. And, (s)he's the one who is responsible for hiring/firing decisions. Express whatever opinion you may have, but the decision is not up to you.

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