How best to manage this work problem
January 9, 2015 8:08 AM   Subscribe

For several years Small Company has been undergoing large turnover in employees, to the point that there are now a number of critical vacancies. I am a Widget Controller at SC. Because of the vacancies, I was told to also become a Cog Controller. They're not similar jobs even though they have a similar title and the career path is different. I am not paid extra for the additional role (I haven't asked). There is no overtime. Is a position change like this normal? Is it possible to escalate to HR as this isn't the job I was hired to do? I don't like being a Cog Controller.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Yes, it's normal and legal and sucky. Your job description changed. You can ask for a raise, since you're going more work, or look for another job as a widget controller elsewhere, or just adapt.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:23 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Many of us end up doing jobs we were "not hired to do," sometimes on our first day of work.

That doesn't mean you have to like it; you can hate it. Asking for more pay for additional responsibility would strike me as reasonable. Whether you can do anything probably depends on whether the issue is turnover per se or a larger funding question; if it's just turnover, you might be able to speak to your supervisor(s) about finding a proper full-time Cog Controller.

But chances are very good that you're just in a shitty position, albeit a very common shitty position. Your job changed in a way you don't like; you can ask for more $ to mitigate the damage, and/or (I'd choose "and") start looking for a new job as a Widget Controller elsewhere.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:27 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would recommend documenting your time and effort on each of the tasks.

It's one thing to say "I'm one person and I'm only here 100% of the time. I can only be a Widget Controller 50% of the day and a Cog Controller 50% of the day". They'll grin and say "we know", but then when performance starts to fall they'll be back on your doorstep asking "why is only 50% of each job being done per week?". You can show them why.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:35 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

This happened to me once, but with three jobs. I was hired to be a Peon, then got promoted to local Fun Job Guy, then got restructured to Regional Fun Job Guy (restructure is promoted without additional pay, just a title and responsibility change). When I moved up I still had to do the Peon work because they didn't hire in behind me. When I started doing the regional stuff I still had to do the local Fun Job Guy stuff and the peon stuff. Eventually I started to burn out and I just gave up. I didn't give a shit about what I was doing or how I was doing it. I was just showing up, since showing up is often 80% of the job.

One day I decided I'd had enough, so I went in and said, "You have me doing three jobs. I am sucking at them all. Here's how my pie chart looks now. I would like to redo this so I am doing one job so I can do it well." They said, "Here's $5,000 more. Go away." It took me another six months to realize I hadn't been complaining about the money, so I checked out again.

Once I realized they knew I'd checked out, and once I realized they weren't going to change anything, and once I realized it was only going to get worse from there I moved on.

I'm sure their version of these events would differ, just as I am sure everyone ended up happier in the end. Sometimes you just have to be honest and admit your job is no longer the one you applied for and were hired to do. Then you have to decide if you want to continue to do the one assigned.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

I was hired to be a sys-admin for VM hosts. For the last 9 months, I've been managing a backup system instead. I took the job because I was interested in running VMs. I could not have less interest in backup systems.. I just had to suck it up. I also found some aspects of it to be interested in, eventually. Everything has its own unique challenges.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Once I worked for European company and my boss left. So we had no department head. I volunteered to be the department head on a temp basis. And the big boss, in a different country, said great. And I said of course you have to pay me more money. And he said, that will never work because then when we hire the actual replacement and your salary goes back to normal, you will be resentful. And I said, on the contrary you will pay me a bonus for my additional work and the bonus will go away when you hire a replacement. Also, I won't do it unless you pay me more. So he paid me more. And I'm the only person in the entire history of the company who was ever paid more for doing more, because I'm the only one who demanded it.

No one ever gets more money for doing more work unless they ask. Even if they ask, they may be told no. Of course, you don't care about the money, you care that you're being asked to do a job that you hate. I was once in that position as well, and went to my boss and said, I can't do this new job that you have given me to do because I am terrible at it and I hate it. And he said okay and took it on himself.

You don't know what will happen unless you ask. I think it's fine to ask, in fact I encourage you to ask. Do keep in mind that you may be considered a malcontent by asking. And do, by all means, start looking for another job. Do not get yourself fired between now and when you find another job. That's all I have to offer.

Your situation sounds sucky. I wish you all the best in finding something that is a much better fit. But sometimes people are unexpectedly flexible. Perhaps your boss might be one of those people.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:22 AM on January 9, 2015 [11 favorites]

I may be in the minority, but the way I look at a job is that I was hired to work at a company. They are willing to pay me X dollars to work at the company. If they ask me to do something different than what they originally asked, I have a few choices. One, suck it up and agree. Two, agree but ask for a change in compensation or three say no and live with the consequences.

IF you are a unionized worker, this probably is an issue. I would then talk to my shop steward/union boss.
posted by 724A at 9:23 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Joe Zydeco's advice about documenting your time is a good idea, esp if CYA is / has been an important part of the SC work culture.

Yes, if it's a substantial amount of work, you can ask for more money.

A couple of other things you might try:

- hold out for training. I don't know what a Cog Controller does, but if the job requires skills, demand some training. Also, document this, in case you don't get training, and then they begin to grief you on the quality of your cogs.

- this is kind've cold, but perhaps you can assist your mgmt in finding someone who is better qualified to be a Cog Controller? Bob in the office down the hall, for instance.
posted by doctor tough love at 10:15 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm so fucking tired of companies pulling this shit. It happened at my last job (the one I'm no longer at.) You hired me for my particular skill set, I developed this skill set because it suits my talents and I enjoy it. I'M in control of my career, not the company that signs my paycheck.

I would talk to your manager and say, "I am a Widget controller, that's my expertise, that's what I enjoy. Not only do I not enjoy cogs, I would not flourish in this position because cogs aren't in my skill set. Clearly this company is having issues retaining talent, and as much as I'd love to fill in here, it's not in my wheelhouse."

So you do have your resume out there right? Because if a company has retention problems there's a reason. Now you know what it is.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:31 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

We had a staff meeting on a project that was going to happen no matter what. In one of these meetings I casually said, "I still haven't decided if I am going to do it." One of my co-workers said, "I didn't realize we were being given a choice." So I replied, "You have a choice every damn day you wake up."

Like I wrote above, sometimes it's in everyone's interest if you just move on.

Staying miserable in a job is not the solution.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:19 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

This happened to me over the last six months in my current role. I just gave my notice. You can ask for them to return you to the original responsibilities you enjoy more but be prepared for the answer to be no. You need to think about what you would do in that case.
posted by winna at 11:57 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Dont shine your light on me   |   flannel eye for the tiny, squishy guy Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.