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Friday, April 02, 2010

What was your worst "additional assignment?"

"Additional Duties as assigned" pops up in almost every job description. Can your boss really make you do something outside your job description?

Of course. Go read about additional assignments as required and then tell me about your strangest additional assignment--either here or at BNET.

And, yes, unfortunately BNET does require registration, but they don't send annoying stuff out unless you request it and you can use the same name you use over at blogger and if you can't remember your real address, well, who can blame you when you're struggling to get all these tasks done that aren't related to your core work responsibilities?


Sabrina said...

Cake cutting. Every time there's an occasion for a cake. I hate it. I detest it. Why should admins cut the damn cake? Last time I handed her the cake cutter thingy and told her to return it when she was done.

Unknown said...

Sweeping the parking lot. At the time, I was an administrative assistant for the CEO.

Also, in my current job, the adminstrative staff are expected to make or buy cake/cookies/goodies for an office 'birthday celebration' for not only whomever they support, but the other administrative staff as well.

Note that we are expected to do this out of our own pockets and time, and that this means that the managers never do anything - they just have the admins do birthdays for the other admins.

Michelle said...

One of my pet peeves is when people refuse to do things because the think the work is beneath them. If the work has to get done, I don't care what your grade level is, get it done. Now it has to be fairly allocated and it may not make sense to pay someone at a higher grade to do lower level work, but if it has to get done now and you are who is available, just do it.

Craziest thing I've had to do? At a customer event where we were taking people golfing I went to a drug store to buy sun screen and drove a cart around an 18 hole golf course handing it out so that our customers wouldn't get burned. :-) It was kinda fun but not all in my job description but someone had to do it.

Anonymous said...

Getting stamps for someone who made more than quadruple my salary even though I would have had to walk to the post office 1 mile away in the rain. She also requested that I pay for her personal use stamps with my own money and fill out paperwork for reimbursement which took at least 6 weeks to process at that company. When I told her that the post office was completely out of my way, she replied, 'just get them on your way home.' To which I then again stated that the post office is not on my way home. To which she repeated her 'on your way home' line. Needless to say, I didn't get her stamps and I no longer work for her. Why couldn't she just double-park her Lexus and get them herself!?! (To clarify, I was not her personal assistant, merely the office admin.)

Esther819 said...

I had a friend who worked in an office that included some lawyers on the staff. Even though my friend was not in an admin role, one of the lawyers would walk past the fax machine to give him anything that needed to be faxed. This was in no way his job, just someone who thought they were too high level to have to send their own faxes.

Unknown said...

Frankly, I like making and cutting the cakes. I have been doing it for years. Every company I have been at I do a lot of baking because it is a hobby and I can't eat all that sweet stuff so my co-workers get the benefit. Also, every CEO and CFO I have worked for never wants to see me leave.

But the worst "other duty" I have had was way back in the late 80's (I just dated myself). I worked for the GM and I had to bring him a USA Today every morning and I had to fetch his lunch every day. It was the same lunch all the time, fried egg sandwich on toast with mustard.

And then to top it off I had to take his car to get it washed. But that was only when the shipping guy wasn't available.

Oh, wait I forgot about making him drinks every afternoon at 5pm. Long story short I ended up suing him for sexually assaulting me.

But that was the 80’s and from the other posts not much has changed. Woman are still expected to do the domestic work.

Anonymous said...

Worst additional duties? Doing and incision and drainage of a 9 x 9 x 6cm peri-rectal abscess. And then doing dressing changes. For free.

Unknown said...

Anonymous wins!

Suzanne Lucas said...

I totally agree. The last anon wins.

Film Co. Lawyer said...

And that's why I won't go above & beyond unless I own the business or am being treated w/respect. In particular, there are certain things I absolutely will NOT do:

A) Anything concerning bodily fluids or janitorial work. I wouldn't even pick up a dirty diaper that was left on the sales floor in high school when I worked retail. We had a custodial staff & there were no gloves around. If I didn't cause a mess, I'm not cleaning it.

B) Spending my personal funds on ANYTHING. Unless I know you'll pay me back that day or soon after, you'll just have to give me the cash. This includes driving my car out of my way; you'd better be handing over some gas/transit pass money or it's not going to happen. I've also usually been broke.

C) Things that I used to do but have moved past. I didn't go to law school & become a lawyer to do the same stuff I did in high school or college. In fact, it's a waste of time to have me doing certain tasks if other people are present & need to learn how to do them properly. That's bad management.

D) Things I know nothing about doing. I'm not getting dragged down that road & blamed for screw-ups.

E) Manual labor. I'm a physical weakling so asking me to do that is silly.

I've had some bad experiences with people & legal clients who tried pushing me around. I think being a lawyer & a business owner has made me take on a Peter Gibbons post-hypnosis view of working. I know I can't do certain jobs these days.

Hopefully, this perspective will make me a very good boss once my business has to hire interns & office people.

Old Fashioned said...

@Film Co. Lawyer: You sound like a delight.

Anonymous said...

I think most people have ego problems, and that is why they refuse to do things which they feel is "below their pay grade." Unfortunately, what they fail to realize is that sometimes offering to do something no one else would do is the best way to get yourself noticed and advanced in the company.

For example, I started my career as an admin at a LA firm for a COO who dealt with the east coast. Every day during lunch, he was on the phone dealing with those clients. After a few days working with him and seeing him too busy to get his own lunch, I would offer to buy him a sandwich when I went to get my own lunch. He was so grateful, and he always gave me $10 bill and told me he'd pay for my lunch too. I never abused his generosity, and only took the offer a few times after he insisted. One New Years Day, he called me and said he forgot some important papers at the office. Since he lived an hour away while I lived just 10 minutes from the office, would I be able to go to the office and fax him the papers? It would only take 30 minutes of my time, so I told him sure, no problem. He was so happy he told me to take any afternoon off in the future with pay, although I never took him up on that offer because I felt it would be taking advantage of the company.

My point is, I understood that the COO's time was much more valuable than mine. By clearing his schedule as much as possible of tasks that would detract his attention to the company, I showed him I cared also about the company's bottom line. In return, he was appreciative and helped me along with my career.

Eventually I rose to a supervising position and now have my own admins. Although I try to treat them the same way I was treated as an admin, I found out that not everyone has my viewpoint or work ethic. For example, one day I was on the phone with a client for a very long time, to the point where I was starting to lose my voice. I couldn't leave the client, and there was no one else in my section who had a license and could take over, so I asked the temp we were trying out for an open admin position if she could help me get a glass of water. The temp complained to her agency, who called our HR, who in turn explained the "additional duties as required" clause in the temp's contract. Needless to say, when the temp asked if we were interested in hiring her, we told her no.

To sum it up, additional duties (no matter how menial) are often opportunities to differentiate yourself from the pack and get you noticed. And even if you may sometimes feel no one notices your efforts, more often than not you are appreciated and may even be considered for that next job opening because of your positive attitude.

Anonymous said...

Thank you previous anonymous. That's exactly the attitude you should have, and it has paid off in your career. We have some admins like you in the CPA firm I work for. They are all well respected and treated well. We also have a few admins like the one who refused to get you water. They are not well respected, do not get promotions, and a few of them have been fired.

Corey Feldman said...

I was HR Director for a hotel on Embassy Row in DC on 9/11. I had 4 days left on my notice. Yet I still drove up Connecticut Ave into DC as every other car on the road was driving out. We were mandated (by whom I have no idea) to check the guest registry of every car coming into the garage and "check" the trunks for G-d knows what. The staff was union and so other duties as assigned was only applicable to management. I was asked, and since I was young and stupid I agreed.

Anonymous said...

Eh, I have to do other people's stuff all the time. They heap it on me because we're running on a skeleton crew right now thanks to the economy and a buyout that doubled my workload. And since I'm the only admin (and the receptionist) for the whole office, guess who gets to do it? I used to like this job, but not any more. I had to literally stop caring because of all the crap I have to put up with, in order to keep from making myself sick trying to get my work done.

It's true what they say; s*** rolls downhill. But I'm putting up with it now because 1) there isn't anywhere else to go, and 2) I'm working on a writing career and don't want to be stuck here forever. I'm just biding my time until that and personal things work out so I can leave.

SarahC said...

I think the oddest thing I was ever asked to do under 'additional duties' was when I was working in retail during a time in London when the IRA were planting real bombs in some London venues, but also making a lot of hoax bomb scare calls, causing maximum disruption to business wherever possible. We had a store evacuation as a result of such a call ~ all customers were asked to leave as quickly as possible, but the sales staff were asked to remain in the department and check the whole area for any suspicious packages that could be bombs! I flatly refused to do this - there's being a good employee and then there's recklessly endangering your life on behalf of your employer, and the latter goes way outside what can be regarded as 'reasonable' in my opinion!

Unknown said...

"To sum it up, additional duties (no matter how menial) are often opportunities to differentiate yourself from the pack and get you noticed. And even if you may sometimes feel no one notices your efforts, more often than not you are appreciated and may even be considered for that next job opening because of your positive attitude."

I agree. I often do similar things for the people I work for. However, I draw the line at sweeping the parking lot when we have a janitorial staff and I am an admin.

Yes, there are a lot of things that fall under 'additional duties' that are reasonable - and the ones you mentioned are all ones I would do gladly (and in some cases do, I often pick up lunch for my guys when I am going out anyway, and sometimes when I am not).

But there are some things that are just the company taking advantage. *shrug*

Anonymous said...

In past jobs, I've triec to lend a hand out when I can, but the downside to that is people will sometimes begin to get accustomed to your going the extra mile and take it for granted. And watch out when things fall on your desk at the last minute that you don't lose points for "lack of enthusiasm" and failure to be a "team player." It's a fine line!

KellyK said...

Film Co. Lawyer, Taria Shadow and Anonymous @ 2:16, April 7 all have good points that there are boundaries you should set to avoid being taken advantage of. Sure, it's good to be a team player and be helpful, but that doesn't mean you have to have "sucker" stamped on your forehead.

The way I look at it, it's not so much whether something is in my job description per se, but other factors. I'm a technical writer, but I've done random things like taking website photos, setting up for office parties or conferences, etc.

Like Film Co. Lawyer, I'm not going to spend my personal funds on something for work. I don't think it's appropriate of a company to ask that, especially in situations like Taria's, where you're being asked to spend your own money on something that's essentially personal, for someone who makes more than you.

It also seems reasonable to say "no" if there's someone else available who can and should be doing a task. I don't mind doing a boring or easy task that needs to get done, but I have no interest in doing other people's work for them. Help, sure. Offer suggestions if needed, no problem.

I also try to avoid taking on extra responsibilities if they'll interfere with my core responsibilities, unless they're clearly more important than what I'm already working on.

JoAnna Wahlund said...

My former boss used to bring his rottweilers to the office, and he'd ask me to walk them. I did it, but I didn't like it. I'm not much of a dog person, and I was scared one of the dogs would do something illegal (attack another dog or something) and I'd get in trouble for it. I'm so glad I no longer work for him.

Anonymous said...

I'm Payroll, and I very covertly, yet loudly, volunteered to take over the mailroom. It hasnt gone unnoticed. I thank the universe that my boss - THE hardcore executive in the company - made sure he knows how to run it now, too. :)

Marti Nelson said...

I don't cook at home and wouldn't know the right end of a turkey from the wrong one, but HR was assumed to be the holiday caterer. I was supposed to deep fry turkeys for the employees in the snow. It is amazing that the building didn't burn down. Of course, the first turkey was deep fried with the bag of giblets still inside. By some stroke of luck, no one was poisoned, because I had no idea how long to cook it. There needs to be some sanity in what an individual gets assigned, as opposed to their job title. If that person can barely boil water, don't give them propane and boiling oil!

Laura said...

It was when the only Oncology Hospital was closed before the new premises were ready and everybody had to work to paint and clean the new building. The worst was not the side assignment, but the fact that so many patients missed their surgery and chemotherapy and eventually died. This happened in Romania, by the way.

Dataceptionist said...

Ad hoc duties, the bane of Admin staff everywhere!
My (least) favourites to date

- Having to organise and work the Sunday before Christmas, for the company Kids Christmas Party. This still irritates me. I was “compensated” with one weekday in lieu. Giving up my Sunday, is NOT the same as a weekday, not when I have no choice to decline your “offer” of managing the horrid munchkins high on sugar. My predecessor’s grandchildren had attended in previous years, so she enjoyed the event. I had no such ties.

-This same company also had us (receptionists) serve pizza and beer the last Friday night of every month. Only two beers per person, we had to hand each beer to each individual, it was worse than the cricket. We got time in lieu again, for stuffing up my Friday night.

-Going with my boss to buy nailpolish. She wore a very particular colour from Christian Dior and I had to help find it, based on the chipped remnants on her nails.

-Going with that same boss to choose an evening outfit, including having to pass comment on whether she “looked fat in this”.

-Re : Cake cutting. I am in two minds. In one job it annoyed the hell out of me. In my current job, if I didn’t do it they would either hack it to pieces or cut it badly so they not everyone got a piece. It’s surely a skill, and not everyone has it.

K said...

The worst 'outside of my duties' task ever asked of me as a PA to a senior partner in a law firm was to source and purchase a wrist corsage for his son's date to the year 12 formal.

I have never figured out why his son (or his wife) couldn't do that.

Anonymous said...

Boy ! Having had the opportunity to do all kinds of different jobs, the more I think about things I've been asked to do that fall under the "other duties" clause the more crazy stories I remember.

Like most here, I have a serious issue with people thinking that a certain task is beneath them. If its gotta be done and you're the closest available person, just clam-up and do it so long as its reasonable I say.

I'll never forget a time when I was serving as a campaign manager and was coordinating a door knocking event one Saturday morning. The president of a college chapter of the candidate's political party of association came along with a group of volunteers. When I tried to hand him a stack of flies and a map of the area we were handing them out in, he said "OH NO NO NO, I'm the PRESIDENT of the XYX University College Democrats/Republicans I DON'T DO Door knocking !!! I'm just here to make sure it gets done !!".

I'd been up till 2am the night before getting things organized and hadn't had my morning coffee yet so before I could even stop myself I blurted out "I don't give a crap what you call yourself. As far as I'm concerned your King Shit of Turd Island. If you're not planning on helping out, I don't have time for your B.S. right now. You've got three seconds to get out of my sight and two of them are already gone !!". To the amusement of everyone around me. This idiot nearly got run over in traffic racing to his car !!

But I think the worst assignment I personally did under that clause came while I was working as part of a lawn mowing crew one summer between college. We'd just finished mowing the lawn of a sweat old lady's and were loading up the truck when she came out with a can of Raid and asked if I could exterminate the occupants of an EXTREMELY large hornet nest the buggers had built onto the side of her house. Clearly she wasn't physically able to do it herself and she was very nice about it. So I didn't mind going the extra mile for the customer but I did very much mind the army of 50 hornets that came flying out of the nest looking for me with murder in their heart !! But hey, in the end we all got a laugh out if it and I know for a fact she recommended our company to several other future customers. So all's well that ends well I guess.