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Background: I am the most junior person in a marketing team that evolved through acquisitions, as a result everyone except for me has manager in their title (though they manage no one, since people leaving the team were never replaced).

The Problem: I feel as though everyone treats me as their direct report and delegates repetitive time consuming tasks to me, as a result I have little time left over to deal with my core responsibilities properly.

The Question: Do you have any suggestions on how I can turn these requests down?

Things I have tried:

I have tried bringing this up with my manager, but she seems to want to look good in front of the other mangers and always agrees to their requests for my time.

I have begun keeping detailed records of how I spend my time, so that if I fail to deliver on something properly I have better proof of the number of things being asked of me.

In my opinion the issue here is that because I do not report directly into the other managers they do not have full visibility of my workload. The other issue here is that the team is under-resourced and there is simply too much that needs to get done.

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You have several problems here. First you need to get the requests to flow through your actual manager and have her set priorities. You do this by referring them to the manager or the ticket system, if you have one, every time they ask. It won't take very many repetitions before they realize they can't go to you directly. You also need to talk to your boss about this so she is aware that people will be coming directly to her. Make sure you express that you are willing to do the work, you just need someone to set priorities.

If your boss doesn't want to get all requests, then the strategy is to put each new task on the bottom of your priority list and give them an expected completion date based on that. If they want to argue it they can go to your boss and your boss can tell you specifically what you need to move down in order to accommodate the request. It is your boss's responsibility to manage priorities.

Next, you need a system where people, especially your boss, can see what you have on your plate. There are ticket systems that are open source and free that you can use for this or you could put up a spreadsheet in a public location (like Sharepoint or a shared drive) with the tasks you are given and the priorities set and the due dates. Even creating a paper list that you can show people will help.

Next as priorities shift, you need to make sure the ones whose priorities got lowered are informed that the due date has shifted. Do not let them argue with you about the change in priority though, refer any questions to the person who set the priority, your boss.

Finally, you need to discuss you actual responsibilities with your boss. If you can't get to the core responsibilities because of this extra workload, you need to work out a plan. It may be that what you see as your core responsibilities is not what your boss sees.

However, it also sounds like you are not thrilled to get the less skilled work assigned to you. That however is function of you being junior and you need to accept that. It is more important to keep the higher paid people on the more complex tasks than it is to keep you on them. How well you do at these less interesting tasks will dictate how soon they start giving you more interesting ones.

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If you have a manager, refer all requests to him/her. Don't action anything until it's been approved. It's your managers job to allocate your time and make sure you're productive.

Keep all work tracked and documented, and your back is covered.

This is just basic professional procedure. I always got it in writing as well (email), both the job request and the approval, and then documented my way through each task.

  • ... and add an estimate of each task, to clearly show that adding up all the allocated tasks amounts to more than what can be done. – Puzzled Aug 22 '16 at 12:54
  • @Puzzled Good point, I'd normally do the estimate after the approval though, because without that I'm not even interested in the details of the task. – Kilisi Aug 22 '16 at 13:00

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