My boss assigns me tasks outside my job description, what do I do?

Sometimes it is not possible to refuse to do the extra tasks, but learning to manage additional work is key to avoid reaching a case of burnout.

Note published on June 20, 2024 in expansion.mx. Careers section by Nancy Malacara. Mention: Blanya Correal.

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The assignment of tasks outside the job description is a common topic in the workplace that can affect both productivity and the well-being of employees. Therefore, clarity in responsibilities and expectations is relevant for maintaining a fair and efficient work environment.

When employees face additional, unanticipated tasks, confusion, demotivation, and a possible work overload can arise, negatively impacting their performance and job satisfaction. However, properly addressing these situations is important to ensure that collaborators feel valued and capable of fulfilling their duties, while contributing to organizational success as a whole.

Human Capital specialist Blanya Correal suggests first understanding the cause of this situation, whether it is due to recognition of good performance or whether it is because of organizational problems. “If they are tasks of greater responsibility, seek to prepare yourself for conducting them satisfactorily, as this could contribute to improvement or to a promotion.”

But it is important to identify whether these additional tasks affect working hours, core duties or work-life balance. If this is the case, it is recommended to have a conversation with the boss to establish clear priorities and defining the expected deliverables.

Correal also suggests documenting all deliverables in writing in order to prevent misunderstandings about the additional workload. In situations in which the overload affects personal life, she recommends outlining solutions to optimize tasks or improve procedures.

Alejandra Martínez, head of Marketing B2B and Labor Market Research at Computrabajo, emphasizes that it is important to approach the situation with an open and strategic mindset, starting by clarifying expectations, reviewing the original job description and assigned tasks.  “After doing this, schedule a meeting to talk about your responsibilities and how the additional tasks align with your career goals.”

It is necessary to evaluate whether the additional tasks contribute to professional development and set limits to prevent that they overload and affect performance in regard to your main responsibilities.” Martínez also suggests keeping a record of the additional tasks and their impact on the workload, reflecting on job satisfaction and whether these tasks are in line with the employee’s interests and skills.

Jorge Guerrero, senior director at PageGroup México, states that many companies do not have proper job descriptions, which can lead to these situations. In some cases, there are companies that grow so fast that employee responsibilities evolve more rapidly than their job descriptions.

Some organizations do not have a Human Resources department that keeps job descriptions that are updated and sufficiently detailed. The lack of procedures and defined systems can also lead to an ineffective management of job descriptions, just as the lack of communication between departments and hierarchical levels can result in job descriptions that do not reflect the actual responsibilities of the employees. Other companies prioritize short-term results and do not invest the necessary time for formalizing and updating roles and responsibilities.

“Communicate your concerns. Ask whether these additional tasks are temporary and how they impact your main role”, Guerrero says. “Keep a record of all of the additional tasks and the time that you spend on them. This will give you more information when your performance is evaluated.”

“If the additional tasks are negatively affecting performance in your key responsibilities, communicate this clearly. Seek to clarify your role in a formal meeting to review and possibly update your job description, ensuring that your responsibilities are in line with your capabilities and professional objectives”, he adds.

Martha Barroso, director of People & Culture at ManpowerGroup Latam, points out that in these situations it is always advisable to maintain a professional and constructive focus based on assertive communication.

“Before speaking with your supervisor, prepare carefully, focusing on objective facts and avoiding personal opinions.” It is crucial to share the effect of the additional tasks and what is required to manage them efficiently, proposing solutions such as task redistribution or training. If the situation persists and affects labor well-being, Barroso suggests considering having a conversation with Human Resources or exploring other labor opportunities.

Steps for handling tasks outside of your job description

Understand the cause: Find out whether the additional tasks are as a result of recognition of your performance or due to disorganization.

Evaluate the impact: Analyze how these tasks affect your work hours, core duties and work-life balance.

Talk with your boss: Schedule  meeting to discuss the new responsibilities and establish clear priorities,

Document deliverables: Keep detailed records of all of the additional tasks and their impact on your workload.

Propose solutions: Offer ideas for optimizing tasks or improving processes if additional tasks are overloading you.

Review the job description: Share with your boss the way in which the additional tasks align with your career goals.

Keep an open communication: Communicate any personal problem that could be caused by the new tasks and seek necessary adjustments.

Consider Human Resources: If the situation does not improve, talk with Human Resources, or explore new job opportunities.

Evaluate and adjust: Periodically reflect on the impact of the additional tasks and adjust your strategies accordingly.

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