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I was sent to work at a convention with a team of about 10 other people. The convention was two days and our setup was elaborate. Most of the people I was working with were new to working with each other.

When setting up, I became aware of one "position" that was getting people to fill out a survey for information to send back to the R&D team. I said I would do it. I didn't really consciously think about it but had assumed I would just do this one position for the whole convention.

More than halfway through the first day the team lead came up to me and said "the expectation is you do other positions". I found this a bit stressful, I think because the different "positions" were never clearly defined to me. I asked her what the other positions were and all she did was give job titles that meant nothing to me. I ended up switching roles but of course there was some on the spot training and a learning curve.

Should I have handled this differently or pushed back? She jokingly said it's good to expand our mind, but I'm wondering if there was a reason behind doing this, maybe if someone had a harder job then it's more fair we switch positions? Especially considering that we were only doing this for 2 days I don't know why it would be important that people gained experience in different positions.

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    If this “manager” wanted people to rotate responsibilities then she should have sorted a rota.
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 28 '21 at 14:06
  • "...I'm wondering if there was a reason behind doing this..." Why not just ask her? Besides, it'd be useful for her to know that it wasn't clear what was supposed to be happening.
    – BSMP
    Nov 28 '21 at 22:01
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You didn't do anything wrong. The team lead seemingly did a poor job of communicating the expectations beforehand and making sure everyone knows what they're supposed to do.

You did the most reasonable thing in the circumstances - found a position where it was clear what you needed to do and got to work. When asked to rotate, you asked what else is available and got an unsatisfactory answer, which I think is the team lead's fault - they should've done a better job finding a different position for you and explaining the responsibilities.

Pushing back is a valid strategy when you're reasonably sure that what you're asked to do is counterproductive, in this situation it seemed like you didn't have enough information, so clarifying what you were supposed to do was the right approach. The only thing you probably should've done differently is being more persistent and asking questions until you got all the necessary information to allow you to switch to a different position.

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"Working a convention" is indeed a stressful process. Part of that stress is that you are expected to interact with many different prospects adapting your actions to the needs and expressions of the prospect that you are talking to at that moment. Almost nobody does one role at a convention (unless the role is "convention booth person"). It is not about the "positions"; it is about being reactive to those coming into the booth.

Working a convention is essentially a sales and marketing experience. As an introvert, I find that process to be very draining. Your posting suggests that you are either new to sales or are coming from a more technical background. Working a convention - by itself - would be a "mind expanding" experience. The next time (and there will be a next time somewhere in your life), you will have a better idea of what you are getting into.

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Seems like you did the right thing. You asked for more information and did not push back.

Generally, doing exactly one thing for two days straight can be stressful, especially if it is any job more unpleasant than "making people fill out forms". So I guess it was a "fair" approach to switch tasks once in a while. Likely it is not about training - although next time you (or any of the others) are being sent to a convention, you will have enough experience to coordinate what jobs should be done and how to do them. Or quickly take over if necessary.

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