When Your Boss Takes You for Granted

When most people begin a new job, they naturally want to work hard and show their employer that they are a can-do person. And most bosses appreciate that. In fact, some bosses will appreciate your willingness to take on the tough tasks and work the distasteful shifts necessary to get a job done so much so that they begin to take advantage of your good will.

Need a night shift covered? No problem, Sally will do it. She always says yes. Need the grease trap cleaned out in the restaurant? Sally will do that, too. Need a job done that nobody else wants to do? The slackers won’t do it, but Sally will.

You get the idea, and if you are like Sally, you are most likely feeling a bit resentful about the situation. And rightly so. In the best work environments, everyone should share in the bad as well as the good. Right?

Train Your Boss How to Treat You

Without even knowing it, you have been teaching your boss how to treat you from day one. Here is what you can try:

  • If you are brand new, you can avoid this situation by setting boundaries from the beginning. You might say something like, “Sure, I’ll clean the grease trap today, and someone else can take their turn next time.” Then cheerfully set about doing it. In this way you have showed a cheerful willingness to take on a dreaded task, yet conveyed the message that you also want to be treated fairly without making a big issue of it. Now, this only works for tasks that are not specific to any one person or job classification. In a restaurant, there would be several people to share in this intermittent task. If this task were assigned to the janitor, and there were only one janitor, and you are the janitor, then you are stuck with doing it every time the need arises.
  • If you have been around a while, and you are always getting stuck with the distasteful tasks, you could try saying something like, “I cleaned it last time. Is there anyone else who can do it?” Now, this is where it can get a little sticky. It is likely that your boss will want you to do it anyway. That is when you will have to bite the bullet and say something like, “Okay. I’ll get it done, but in the future could more of the staff share in these tasks?” It is a reasonable request, so your boss isn’t likely to veto the idea. But remember, you may experience some resistance as you work to change the boundaries because people have gotten very comfortable with the fact that “Sally will do it”. And, if coming in to cover for other staff members who don’t show up is the issue, that is pretty easy to repair. All you have to do is let them know you have other commitments once in a while when they call. It may take some time, but they will get the message that you do have a life outside work and cannot always be available. Even if your plan is to just say home and recharge your mind and body, you are not required to always be available unless it is a component of your job.

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