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Losing responsibilities?

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Question: "Last week, one of our newer employees  -- let's call him 'Nat' -- asked me to show him how to compile a monthly report that I've been doing as part of my job for years. Nobody had mentioned this to me before 'Nat' approached me.

"I showed him how to compile the report. He thanked me and went back to his desk. But now, I'm worried that I'm going to start losing responsibilities.

"I don't know how to bring it up to my boss.

"How would you approach this situation?"  -- Rhoda, Virginia



If your boss has an open door policy just ask to speak to him/her and mention this. I would ask if it is future purposes such as cross training or is it being given to "nat" for other reasons. You might also want to find out if there was a problem with you doing it? Maybe your boss has other duties he is giving to you instead of that report. Ask him/her that.

The best approach I've found in such situations it to be straightforward yet not accusatory. Ask if there are going to be shifts in job responsiblities for your and Nat's position. If so, explain you would like to know what those changes are before or as soon as they have been decided so you can plan your daily work in the most effective and timely manner.

I would go back to Nat first and just ask him why he wanted to know. Its possible he has been told something that you have not - whether intentionally or unintentionally. No need to jump to conclusions right away. If he seems evasive or has info that you don't have go to your manager immediately and ask why Nat has been looking into compiling that report.

good luck!

Did "Nat" take it upon himself to ask you to learn this area of your job or did someone tell him to ask you about learning it. If a supervisor told "Nat" to ask you about it then I would suggest speaking to your supervisor to see if responsiblities are changing or if they are starting a cross-training program. I feel the direct approach about this situation would be best so you don't worry yourself sick over it.

I would welcome someone asking to learn a task that I currently perform. There are advantages here. If Nat assumes responsibility for this task, it leaves time for you to pursue learning something else. (of course if time permits) What if Nat were able to compile the report more effectively or efficiently? That could be a good reflection on you and Nat. Yes, there are times when people will purposely sabatoge someone's credibility. However, usually when someone asks to learn something, it's simply for that reason, they want to learn something new. Take advantage of the opportunity and learn something new as well. It will increase your value to the company and will make you much more marketable.


In my experience, it is always best to approach your supervisor directly when this type of situation/action has happened. Always be up front with your concerns to your supervisor. Keeping communication open is key when you feel that your position is threaten or changing. Be open to discussion.

How polite we women are! Too much so! Why didn't you say "What's up? Why are you doing this now and not me? Let me check with my supervisor first." Then you could have pointed out to your boss how experienced you were at preparing the report and sounded her/him out on possible other changes. That's what a man would have done! You could have lobbied to keep the report as part of your job, citing more experience. You gotta stand up for yourself! Now you'll have to find a casual moment to ask your boss if there are structural changes coming up in your department. Or you might comment on the new guy and ask what spot he will ultimately be filling. Find out what's happening, girl, and speak up for yourself!

I think you should be up front with your boss, though it doesn't see he was with you, and say that "Nat" asked how to compile the report that you have always done. Then ask why. Maybe he has something else in mind for you to do and just forgot to tell you before "Nat go to you about the report. Never assume what your boss is thinking. If you are going to work well together you both should be open and honest with each other.

Why not approach your supervisor and ask if he/she were aware that "Nat" asked you how to prepare "named" report? If the answer is Yes, you can ask if you should still continue to provide the information. If not, explain that you enjoyed that task, but don't lock yourself into a corner. Your supervisor may have more in mind for you so don't be too quick to hang onto what you have. Sometimes risking letting go allows you an opportunity to possibly gain more. However, if the answer is No, your supervisor may appreciate knowing that "Nat" is more concerned with others' jobs than his own and may need to be supervised a bit more carefully.

In today's workforce and economy, we always seem to be jumping to conclusions about someone else being asked to take on any of our responsibilities or job duties. You didn't mention if anyone else in the organization already knows how to compile the report. This could be as simple as needing someone else trained to do the report in case you are out or get too busy with something else to handle it. I would ask your supervisor about this directly and just put your mind at ease.

I just went through something very similar this week. Due to the number of employees at our company pretty much doubling in size over the last two years, it has become too much for one person to handle all the H.R. paperwork, so they are hiring someone new (I'll refer to as the H.R. Assistant) to manage some of my/the HR rep's old responsibilities - which is definitely good news but takes some getting used to when you've done these functions for the last 7 years!

1. You mentioned that you didn't know how to bring it up to your boss. I agree with the previous posters in that bringing it straightforward to his attention/her attention would be the best way. My boss is extremely busy from the moment she gets in until she leaves for the day, so we mostly communicate via email. If this is a regular form of communication you use with him/her, I'd send a message stating you need his/her input regarding this assignment and then state that Nat asked to learn what you've been doing - is Nat going to be doing this from this point forward or should you consider this still your responsibility?

2. I've found that from a sense of pride I take in my work that at times I can be a little "possessive" of my work.. I don't want to let it go! but this has been a time of transition and acceptance for me - if Nat IS going to be sharing the workload with you, OR if Nat is going to be taking over this particular function, breathe a sigh of relief and don't take it personally that this has been "shifted" to someone else. Often it has nothing to do with you or your abilities as a worker (or Nat's abilities, for that matter) and more with executive decisions regarding your job function. (In other words, try to frame this as an opportunity!).

3. That said - are you confused as to what your job responsibilities are now that something like this has occurred? If so, maybe this is the time to review your functions as an admin/exec by looking at what you have done over the last year...write a short list... then request a little of the boss's time to discuss your job responsibilities and ask to draw up a job description of your position if you don't have one. I know when I started making a log of what I did during the day it helped my boss and I come up with a list of what functions the new HR assistant would be assisting with (and I was able to see just how much time I would gain from the addition of this person to the company to work on other assignments as well!).

Hope this helps...

Dressy - Executive Assistant

I don't know about you but sometimes it is nice to lose some responsibilites. I'm pulled in several directions sometimes and work can be overwhelming. I sometimes welcome the thought of someone else taking over a responsibility so I can have a little time to breathe once in awhile. But- I don't just hand over just anything....I am chosey. Just another way to look at the situation.

I agree w/the suggestions to speak w/your supervisor directly. This will ease your mind a bit. However, I believe that you alone can assess your organization better than any of us can. Have they been going thru some changes lately? Do you think that you have a reason to be concerned about the status of your employment. A dear friend of my went thru a situation where a new person was brought in & was an "expert" in a type of software that my friend had not been trained on. He was told that some of his reports were going to be assigned to this new person. He too, was concerned as to what this meant & brought his concerns to his supervisor. He was told to rest assure, things were fine and that he would be trained shortly. Within a few months he was laid off. I'm not in any way suggesting that this will happen to you. I just thought that my friend was a bit paranoid. In actuality his gut instinct was right. Speak with you boss, but keep your eyes & ears open.

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