Summary: My colleague asked me for "recommendations" on how to fix something in their area of authority. I provided steps to resolve it. Now I feel that my colleague is trying to share these tasks with me, and that they will expect me to contribute my own time. How can I professionally manage expectations and not take on extra work unless my manager tells me to do it?
Sam and I work at the same software company. Recently, there was some audit done for the setup of the software system. An issue was found in an area under Sam's authority.
We now need to rectify the problem. Since the problem was in Sam's area, he's the owner of that task to take the necessary steps.
I received a message from Sam asking for "recommendations" on how to address the problem, since I also have experience in this area. I did some research to verify the solution I had in mind and wrote a brief summary on what are the next steps in my view (invested about 1 hour).
Sam replied "thank you", and asked "if we could continue executing on these steps" to solve the problem. It was quite obvious though that the general tone in that message was that I should take over executing on the solution, but this was only ever implied. It was never mentioned that I should actually do it.
Now, there is some overlap between our areas. But what concerns me:
- Sam never asked explicitly if I can take over the task. He can't assign it to me, since we're on the same level. I find this somewhat dishonest to try to offload work, without actually asking for it.
- I feel that if I just jump on this and try to help out, I open the backdoor for further indirect requests in the future.
- I also want to help out colleagues (which I also did by outlining the steps), so I'm worried about being seen as not a team player.
- One of the core members of my small team is leaving in 10 days and I have loads of work to do to build up their replacement, who doesn't have much experience. I'm worried about taking over a not-so-small task while having 1 key member less in my group.
What's the way forward here? I'd like to help Sam but I also don't want to be on the hook for something that wasn't my task in the first place, while I'm also under pressure myself due to changes in staffing.