It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…
1. Coworkers keep trying to get me to do things that aren’t my job
I just got out of a frustrating meeting and my heart is pounding – so I’m writing angrily. How can I handle it when coworkers endlessly ask me to fix/weigh in on things that aren’t my realm of responsibility? One of today’s many issues was that the designers (including the design director) wanted to know if we have an inventory of all the supplies. Well, I’m in a sales/marketing/processing-paperwork-for-funders position, so why would I have the inventory? We have Jane, the operations director, who’s supposedly in charge of supplies. Why not call her and ask, “Jane, do we have an inventory?” Nope, instead of calling her and asking, the designers cornered me and insisted that I see if it’s any of our funder reports. One of them vaguely remembered something that made her think maybe it was in a report – and if it’s in a report somewhere then it’s my job to be in charge of it, apparently!
Today I tried saying, “Well, that’s in Jane’s area, so you should ask her” to end the conversation, but the designers insisted that I needed to look into it (right now!) and refused to contact Jane. The designers also like to go on and on, so it dragged out forever. I wanted to just call Jane up, tell them to ask her, and leave the room (thank goodness I didn’t blow up that way, though I did get very snappy).
I want to get my coworkers to stop thinking that I’m the problem, and point out that Jane is the one they need to ask. My boss recognizes this recurring problem, and supports that it’s between their two departments to solve and not our department’s issue, but she’s can’t attend every meeting with me. Overall, how do I get out of conversations where they keep insisting it’s my problem but it’s really a different department’s area to address?
Since your boss has your back, then problem solved: “Lucinda has made it clear that I shouldn’t be doing work in that area. But Jane has the info you need.” If they keep pushing: “Lucinda has stated multiple times that this is something you need to go to Jane about. I can’t help.”
And if it continues after that, your boss really needs to tell their boss to get them to cut it out.
2. When is too early to ask for a promotion?
I started my job 11 months ago, and was looking forward to conversations about a promotion from X to Senior X at my one-year mark. This timing would not be absurd, as some people with my degree start out as Senior X at other companies.
However, this morning (near my 11-month mark) I was surprised with a bonus, 5% merit raise, and stock options. Although I’m thrilled, I’m a bit disappointed that this closes the door to my conversation about a promotion. Although I appreciate the extra cash, I think a title upgrade is more important at this early stage of my career. Was 1 year too soon to ask for a promotion anyway? At this point, should I wait for my 1.5-year mark to bring it up?
In most fields, even 1.5 years would be way too early! There are some fields where this is more normal, but if you’re not in one, you risk sounding really, really tone-deaf/naive. So the thing to do here is to figure out what’s normal for your field (the fact that other people are hired at a higher title doesn’t necessarily tell you what’s standard for promotions) and in your particular organization. If it’s not immediately clear by looking around and watching other people, one option is to talk to people who are one or two levels up from you and get their advice.
3. I want to take a week off in between jobs
I work in hospitality and am considering an offer for a position at another hotel in pre-opening (they open in May). I’d like to give two weeks notice at my current position and also take a week off after that before starting the new position because I can afford to do that and so I’m coming into the new job refreshed. Will that request seem out of line or lazy? And if not, what is the appropriate way to bring it up?
Nope, totally fine and normal to do. When you accept the offer and are discussing start date, just say, “Would (date) work for you?” If they ask if you can start earlier, say, “I of course need to give my current job two weeks notice, and I’d like to take off a week before starting so that I’m able to start with you refreshed.” It’s a really, really common thing to do. It does not look lazy or out of line in any way.
4. Should I agree to a work project a few months off when I’m job searching?
I am actively applying to new jobs, but I have no idea how long that will take. There is also a real possibility that things may improve at my current job and I may decide to stay. (We are going through a transition, and they are exploring a possible new role for me.)
In the meantime, a supervisor asked whether I could speak at a major conference in two months. It wasn’t an order, it was just an ask, but I also don’t think it would look good to say no when I can’t provide a good reason. I don’t want to leave them hanging if I change jobs in the meantime — I don’t think anyone else could easily fill in on this event — but I also don’t want them to know I’m looking for other jobs. What do you recommend I do?
Proceed as if you’re staying at your job until you have definite plans to leave it. You said yourself that there’s a real possibility that you may decide to stay. Even if you don’t, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be at a new job in two months. In fact, that would be a pretty fast job search — it would mean you’d need to get an offer sometimes in the next six weeks, which could certainly happen, but many searches take a lot long than that. So assume you’ll still be there in two months, until and unless something happens that makes it more certain that you won’t be.
If it does turn out that you’ll be gone by the time the conference comes around, your employer will deal with that. People leave jobs, it’s often at inopportune times, and employers make do.