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Working too many hours

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Q. How do I make my boss realize the volume of work he expects me to do? He knows I work 12 to 14 hours a day.

This weekend, I worked 16 hours on Saturday and 13.5 hours on Sunday. I’m married, and I never see my husband! My boss is dependent on me. He doesn’t allow me to grow, and I’ve worked for him for nine years. When I’ve expressed my frustration to him, he just says, “You’re better than any VP here, but it’s more important you work for me.” He figures he’s got a workhorse, and he wants to keep me in place.

I make $65,000 a year as an office manager, and if I quit I don’t know if I’d earn the same salary. And when I threaten to leave, my boss says, “You can’t leave. Do you have any idea how many people around here love you?” Am I stuck here for good?

A. That’s up to you. You’ve already leveled with your boss, to no avail. It’s time to review who wields the leverage in this relationship. Clearly, your boss needs you more than you need him. Granted, you fear you may not match your salary if you go elsewhere. But imagine his fear of losing you and having to find another “workhorse.”

So present your boss with an ultimatum: Either he revamps your job so that you can regain some semblance of a home life—or you quit. Give a firm deadline for him to produce results.

Normally, I wouldn’t suggest such confrontational tactics. But after nine years, you’ve earned the right to call the shots and control your destiny.

Meanwhile, mentally prepare to leave your job. Start going on informational interviews to meet potential employers. Don’t just apply for open positions—engage them in big-picture discussions of their business plans and how someone with your abilities might fit in.

Given your experience and loyalty, odds are that other, more effective bosses will want to hire you and let you craft a job for yourself.

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