Did I dis my boss?
June 22, 2010 10:44 AM   Subscribe

My boss offered me a freelance project. I turned it down because I already work 55-65 hours a week and have no time for more projects (or a life). Now my boss is acting cold towards me. It's also close to review time. Any suggestions?
posted by blizter to Human Relations (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you make it clear to your boss how much you appreciate the opporunity to expand your skills and responsibilities with this project, and how dismayed you are to have had to turn it down due to a need for work/life balance? Because you should.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 10:51 AM on June 22, 2010

Remember, the relationship between employers and employees is symbiotic. You need him, but he also needs you. He can review your work, but you can review whether you should be working for him or for someone else. Beyond that, if it is really important for your employer that you work on this freelance project, you could always suggest that you would be able to work on it provided that some of your other work is reassigned to someone else in order to free up some time in your schedule.
posted by grizzled at 10:54 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, I'd give him a poor review for being an ass.

More seriously, I'd explain to him that you turned it down to focus on your core work. If he wants to argue with that, explain to him that with 55 hours a week under your belt he and you are entering the law of diminishing returns. The difference is he's spending company money while you're spending your time.

Just don't get emotional. It's not about your free time. That is a pertinent issue, but not to him.

Don't apologise: good, ethical business decisions shouldn't be prefaced with an apology.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:56 AM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback and perspective.

@MuffinMan: Oops, already apologized. I did explain that the lack of time is due to my daily work load, but didn't get emotional or whiney about it.

And I'm salaried, so it's definitely to the company's benefit to milk as much from me (1-person department) as possible. Seems to be typical of my field to have to work those kinds of hours and not be paid hourly.
posted by blizter at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2010

The situation depends upon the size of the company, the corporate structure, etc. For example, I used to work for a very small company (three employees plus the boss/owner). The boss was obsessed with his business; he told me once that he put it before his family. So he took a dim view of any employee who didn't have the same attitude no matter how unreasonable his request. As you mentioned, we were salaried and his interpretation of "salaried" meant we were on call 24 hours a day. One of the men in our small group purchased a lakefront vacation cottage in northern Michigan and Boss actually confronted him: "Won't that take up too much of your time? What if I need you on the weekends?" So, again, it depends upon the particular corporate structure of where you're working. And whether or not it's an "at will" state.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:48 AM on June 22, 2010

Sure, Boss. I currently have a full load plus, with A, B, C, and D. I could take on E with the time I now spend on one of those. Which one should it be?
posted by TruncatedTiller at 12:14 PM on June 22, 2010

You make it sound like your boss is a god who's every whim needs to be satisfied at the expense of your well-being. You were given a choice, you made a perfectly reasonable decision. How is this even an issue?
posted by whiskeyspider at 12:42 PM on June 22, 2010

Response by poster: @whiskeyspider: In a perfect world I'd work 40 hours/week and people would be reasonable. :) I don't bow to any boss as an overlord, but I know full well that employees in many industries are expected to go "above and beyond", hence nearly doubling the work week as defined on paper.

Of course, this thing isn't work-related, but at all my jobs I've seen lots of people have to take on ridiculous loads to maintain their jobs or advance.

I think I handled the issue maturely, but get the impression I showed disrespect or lack of initiative. Just wondering how I can make sure it's not the case and that it won't affect my position or review.
posted by blizter at 1:26 PM on June 22, 2010

It's probably worse that TruncatedTiller says in that, once you reach a certain level of overload, you won't drop the ball on one thing. You will pretty much drop the ball on everything. If you work in the computer field here's the perfect analogy for you.

If your boss doesn't appreciate that you'd rather do your job right rather than let your work go straight to hell AND skim more money off the top, have him call me. If that's what he wants, give him my e-mail address. I can not get his project done and soak up money with an efficiency bordering on a mathematic ideal.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:31 PM on June 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

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