I previously asked A superior is complaining about me for things that are not my responsibility - should I tell their superior? and really appreciated the answer by maple_shaft to act as professional and cooperative as possible toward to company and boss.

My only problem is, no matter how much I want to go above and beyond all the time, there are days - and increasingly often so - where I can do 100%, but cannot go to 1% more let alone up to 150%, simply because there are no resources, I am extremely tired and feel physically exhausted, or I have a personal commitment.

In other words, many of the "mistakes" that happen are due to the assumption by one person that I always go above and beyond when it comes to certain tasks; however, we all act according to processes and there is no documented or commanded process for the things I am asked to do when I am in "above and beyond" mode.

I am seriously frustrated at the fact that I am being given blame or responsibility for something that is going wrong because I sometimes try to help outside normal hours. To be totally frank I see that as a favor from my part and not my responsibility. How can I put this in a professional way, and explain to someone that they should not expect me to go above and beyond every single working day? That I need to draw the line?

And, for the sake of being constructive, how do I still contribute positively to the company and appear in good faith despite the lack of resources, time and processes mentioned above?

  • 3
    The unsatisfactory work that you have done as a favor is the kind of favor that could lead you straight to your dismissal. If you screw up seriously enough either by commission or by omission, it's irrelevant to those affected that you did them the "favor" by working after-hours. As I said in answering your previous post, if you are going to do it, do it right or don't do it at all. Nov 17 '14 at 12:53
  • Why are they making the assumption? Do you always promise to get a two-day task done the same day you get it? Are you sure you are being clear when you say "I can't get on that right away today"? This question and your previous one both give me the impression that you aren't clearly communicating expectations and deadlines.
    – HorusKol
    Nov 17 '14 at 23:39

I know some organizations use employees as consumable resource . What you will do to a car which you do not own?....profit is the driving motive and every project is on fire...but you cannot run a vehicle on NOS always.

Assumption 1:- The work is on project basis.

on the onset of project be clear about un achievable deadlines.

Assumption 2- Its a repetitive task with day to day quantitative work.

Tell them about the output which you can deliver and take a polite but firm stand on unreasonable workload.

Its usually not practical to fight against the culture of a organization..its better to change.


Rather than working harder, look for ways to work smarter.

Make sure the most urgent stuff gets out on the timeline required. Make sure the most important stuff gets out, period.

Learn how to maintain a backlog -- preferably a departmental backlog rather than just your own -- for the stuff that isn't as important or urgent.

Learn how to say "I'd be glad to do that, but I'm already at capacity -- what can be delayed or handed off to someone else." And when to say "I understand this is critical; I'll work extra hours to get it done on time."

Make sure everything you do is done RIGHT (or as right as it can be given other constraints -- sometimes a quick fix is all you're able to offer.)

Interact with the rest of the department, if at all possible. Be a pleasant person to work with. Help others when you can. Keep the grumpiness to a minimum -- be selective about who you vent to.

Learn from others. Teach others. Help make the company work better.

And so on. Yes, that's all cliches. But that's because these approaches work, both for the company and for your own career.

  • This is an excellent answer because it takes into account the reality of the OP's situation in that there are multiple bosses apparently all with their own agendas on a limited work pool. You have to perform good time management or you will work round the clock. If the OP is not allowed to prioritize tasks or push the date on things that are not as critical then the OP is being setup for burnout and should find another job. Nov 17 '14 at 18:04

The other answers posted have some excellent suggestions but no one seems to be addressing what looks to be the root problem.

Quit going above and beyond. I know, I get it, you(like me and many others) like to do that little bit more. The problem is that when you go above and beyond on certain tasks regularly then the scope of your job begins to include those 'above and beyond' tasks.

Consider this from a much simpler example. We work as sandwich makers in a sandwich shop. My job is to make the sandwiches and your job is to make milkshakes. Normally it takes less time for you to make any milkshakes on an order than it does for me to make sandwiches. So you start to help out and you put the cheese and sauce on every sandwich for me. Why? Because you're awesome, helpful and considerate right? That's cool. Well this goes on for 6 months and I've gotten used to not having to put cheese or sauces on my sandwiches. Then it happens, there's a crazy run on milkshakes and you no longer have time to help me with sandwiches. In a perfect world I would remember that helping me with sandwiches isn't your job. But, in reality, I've gotten used to it perhaps to the point that I don't change to take back over that duty when milkshake time happens.

Ok so sandwiches and milkshakes? Really? My point is that duty creep is a real thing that can effect intellectual jobs(abstract actions in your current position) in the exact same way it can physical jobs(cheese on sandwich). And, in fact, this is what you are experiencing.

Different people work and react to work in different ways. Some folks, and it sounds like you are normally one of them, like to be helpful; they like to go 'above and beyond'. And that is awesome. The risk, though, is this duty creep where duties that, previously, weren't your responsibility slowly become assumed to be yours. And why not? You're doing them right?

The solution to this, in the long run, is to be very aware of duty creep. If you decide to go above and beyond - switch it up! Do not repeatedly assist in the same out-of-band duties unless you want those duties to become part of your job. When you go above and beyond document it. During your One on Ones with your boss(you are having those right?) bring up any above and beyond type stuff you've done. Make anything extra you've done obvious and apparent.

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