It’s a tough call. You want to impress and you want to be loyal, but when is your boss asking too much? For PAs and office support workers in London, going the extra mile for your boss is important—you could argue it’s an essential part of the job. However, during a recession, when employers assume that their employees’ options are limited, they can ask for more than is reasonable.
At our London recruitment agency, we’ve also spotted another trend. With home working being so prevalent, more and more individuals in support roles are being asked to take on additional tasks. Their private time is shrinking, yet they feel unable to say “no”. So, when is it okay for your boss to ask you to do something beyond your remit, and when is it not?
Please can you just…
PAs in London are familiar with a request being accompanied by puppy-dog eyes and a “please can you just…” Almost inevitably, this little task is time-consuming and eats into time that should be dedicated elsewhere.
It’s always important to prioritise and make sure that the core elements of your role are completed first. You can only take on additional, ad-hoc requests when you have spare time. You should also pay attention to who they come from. Extra tasks from your boss take priority over those from Jack in marketing who has discovered you’re a pro at PowerPoint.
Is it fair and is it legal?
It goes without saying that if your boss asks you to do something illegal, you should feel confident in saying no. That’s a time to get straight on the phone to our London recruitment agency. However, it’s harder to determine whether what your boss is asking you to do is fair.
With home working, you’ve probably been encouraged to take on things that you didn’t before. If you’re happy with this, there’s no problem. However, if it feels too much, is taking additional, unpaid hours, or is well outside the scope of your role, you should question whether you’re expected to continue doing it indefinitely. It's one thing to do it short-term but quite another to have it on your desk permanently. Additionally, if you’ve somehow found yourself doing your executive’s online grocery order when it’s nothing to do with your role, something’s gone wrong.
The bigger picture
If you’re supporting more than one individual—multiple executives, for example—it can be hard for each manager to truly understand how much you’re doing for them. The temptation for each of them is to think that you can do everything. It’s a short-cut to you being overworked and ultimately unproductive.
The trick is to communicate clearly with everyone about what’s realistic and appropriate. Sometimes, this may mean you need to get everyone together in one meeting (on video call if necessary) and explain the situation. Once people are put in the picture, they can usually find their empathy and be more realistic about what’s possible.
If saying ‘no’ doesn’t work or isn’t appropriate
There will be times when someone’s role is too much for one person but the employer is unwilling to recognise it. There are also times when saying “no” isn’t possible due to relationships, fears of redundancy, or other issues. If that’s the case for you, don’t feel that your options are limited. You can call our London recruitment agency on 020 7870 7177 and we’ll help you find a position that doesn’t leave you feeling so put upon.
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