I got a job at a tech startup 2 months ago and it's been good. My job is to code and liaise with our customers (support).

The situation is that the company founder (my boss) has begun dropping tasks on me that I don't feel is related to my job description, typically tasks that are a bit more secretarial. I don't mind doing them and helping out, but then I get seen as being less productive because at the end of the day I have less visible "work" done.

He even said today that I am not finishing tasks, and this is what makes me worry. I am being tasked with managing stuff that he should be working with. What makes it worse is that some of these tasks I find myself, such management things he has no thoughts over.

How should I handle this? The job market is awful around me, thus I am desperate to keep my job... but it feels like I am on a bad path, and the environment is getting more toxic. I work hard, but he doesn't understand that it is difficult to complete a milestone when I am often forced to do other stuff. Feels like if I got hit by a truck his entire company would fall apart, yet still replaceable. Ends with me wishing I could tell the guy signing my paycheck "this shouldn't be my job", but that seems a bit job-suicidal.

Thank you for reading and any guidance.

  • 2
    You've describe the problems you face at work, but what would a solution look like for you?
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 21, 2016 at 18:47
  • Really good point @Lilienthal, making me think different about it. I suppose I would like if my boss got better at managing his own tasks that he gives out. When I get tasks from him, I feel indebted to complete them. Otherwise I get flack from him wondering why those tasks weren't done. Suppose it's easier to say the admin tasks failed because milestone was worked on, other than milestone failed because admin tasks were done.
    – Mike L.
    Nov 21, 2016 at 19:06
  • In that case I'd suggest reading at least the second answer on the linked question first as that should give you some ideas on how to push back against this while coming at the problem from a constructive angle (as in "if you need me to do this I can't do X and Y" or "I don't mind helping out but I actually want to focus more on X and Y". If you still have questions I'd suggest dropping in on The Workplace Meta to ask for help in rephrasing your question here so that it's no longer a duplicate.
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


Have you asked about priorities?

Hey, Mike, I need you to fax the contract/call the landlord/fix the printer.

OK, boss, I can do that - but that means the bug fix for Customer X probably won't get done until tomorrow. Which one do you want me to do first?

You're not calling him out or having a confrontation, you're asking a reasonable question about how to manage your time, and about which things are most important to the business.

  • I can expect a response from him of "haha come on dude it'll take 10 minutes and there are 6 hours left in the day". Then is it worth it micromanage myself and write down how all these admin tasks totaled up to a ton of time?
    – Mike L.
    Nov 21, 2016 at 19:09
  • Has he actually done that in the past, or are you assuming that's what he's going to do?
    – John Feltz
    Nov 21, 2016 at 19:21
  • Yes, it's worth it to track all of that. Be sure to include the cost of context switching Nov 21, 2016 at 19:22

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