My boss assigns me additional duties when I'm already overloaded and insanely behind target - then, he asks why I am not meeting deadlines.

He lately has asked me to take on additional tasks, then, assigns them to others and tells me I have enough on my plate. I feel like I'm being set up to fail - any tips on turning the table?

  • Do you get told this verbally or is there a paper/email trail?
    – JohnHC
    Oct 7, 2016 at 13:31
  • I have rewritten your question title because that was one big interpretation. Please limit yourself to the facts.
    – user8036
    Oct 7, 2016 at 13:40
  • Also, what is the relation between both paragraphs? It sound like he is starting to see that you are overloaded - so what's the issue left?
    – user8036
    Oct 7, 2016 at 13:41
  • Are you the only one he does that to ?
    – MopMop
    Oct 7, 2016 at 13:44
  • He is inconsistent with how he addresses me: a phone call, a text, an email; He does see i am overloaded, and, will derail me with an "urgent, drop everything and fix this now" task that takes me all day. I have been trying to document. i will be more diligent in documentation.The issue is, he derails me, then expects me to have completed a, but, has added c,d,e,f and g with urgency, and asks me why i'm behind. I would like advice on where i might find resources to help me understand a better way to handle the situation.
    – user58405
    Oct 7, 2016 at 13:57

3 Answers 3


Document everything. When he assigns you a task verbally, send a follow-up email saying "As per our conversation, I am taking on the responsibility of [xyz]"

If you start to get behind, send emails before it becomes an issue. Likewise with additional tasks.

"As per our conversation, I am taking on the additional responsibilities of [xyz], however, I am concerned that since my attention to [ABC] is taking up the majority of my time, this may put me behind schedule. Please advise as to which has top priority".

Similarly, if a task that has put you behind schedule is then taken away from you after you are already behind schedule, document that as well with an email.

"While I appreciate the task of [xyz] being reassigned to my coworker, as I expressed in my concerns on [date] this has already severely hindered my ability to complete task [abc] on time"

An email trail prior to things going off the rails is the best approach

  • 1
    thanks. I need to remember that no matter what who why or when, always account for your time, and what has consumed your time, especially when asked to divert it to duties that you are not regularly in charge of. It not only backs up why things are late, but, shows a willingness to go above and beyond - and that a senior changed your priorities to suit their needs, which, is why we work as a 'team', to ultimately get results that are measurable, on every level. Thanks for the validation and advice!
    – user58405
    Oct 8, 2016 at 0:39
  • @jbr Thank you, I'm speaking from the "Sadder but wise" school of hard knocks. Oct 9, 2016 at 21:24

I never accept a task without making sure my boss knows what other things are on my plate and which one(s) will be lowered in priority to do the new task. Anything lowered in priority gets an email sent to the stakeholders to let them know the deadline is moving. It helps if you have a list of what you have been tasked to do with the priorities and you can get him to slot it into that list during your initial conversation. Sometimes bosses are not completely aware of everything on your plate, it helps them to see it.

Your boss has the right to set priorities any way he wants, but you need to make sure they are set when there is more work than you can do and you need to make sure those people depending on the the task that was lowered in priority are informed of the delay. Let your boss deal with any fallout from that.


Could be a test. Alot of bosses want to see that you are able to say "no" to the extremely high workload and simply want to see if you can ask for help when you need to.

Seen alot of people come and go at microsoft, believe it or not, the ability to asses your workload and capabilities yourself is a very needed trait.

  • The problem with saying "no" to bosses is that most of them take it negatively like you're not interested in doing the work or are making excuses. Perhaps not so in the European countries or the US, but this is a very very strong characteristic in Asian countries where bosses enjoy a totalitarian rule.
    – Mugen
    Jun 12, 2019 at 6:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .