I didn’t sign up to be the boss!

A letter writer suddenly has more responsibility than they bargained for.

See it as an opportunity, says our elder.

Dear EWC

Recently both my manager and a senior member left my department, leaving only myself. The business is not doing well and it looks like company doesn’t have the budget to hire replacements anytime soon. I myself transferred to this department four months ago and was originally accepted in a junior supporting role. I have a reputation of being a hard worker and quick learner (maybe that’s why I got into this mess in the first place), and I took on more responsibilities than a lot of my colleagues, but realistically I’ll not able to take on their roles which involve risky business discussions that I haven’t been trained on or signed up for in the first place. I understand they’re probably in a desperate situation now and I want to help, but I also don’t want to set myself for failure here. The last thing I want is telling them I’ll try, but then fail later down the road and cost more $s for the company, which will just ruin my reputation and future reference. I’m in my mid-career age and know what I want and my limit. I don’t have the luxury to ‘try’, but at the same time I don’t want to sound like I’m not a go-getter. So I guess my question is how best to say ‘no’ professionally and that they need to hire someone else to do these tasks, while keeping a good reputation with them.

Papa-Smokey replies

I think the best approach is to meet with management or whoever you now report to and articulate the same feelings to them that you mentioned in your note. Perhaps they will have a solution that works for you. Maybe you can bounce your thoughts off someone more experienced than you before implementing them. Maybe someone more experienced than you can join in with you on important phone calls, meetings or other items that you need feedback or guidance on. If you’re a quick learner perhaps this desperate situation can turn into an opportunity that results in you being able to handle more responsibility than you would have had otherwise and ultimately result in a promotion either with your existing company or another company.

If on the other hand this situation doesn’t work out with you handling this additional responsibility perhaps the company will agree to hire someone else to support you or you can search for another job.

Sometimes what appears to be overwhelming responsibility turns into opportunity and good fortune. I hope this happens in your case. Good luck!

Letter #: 416435
Category: Career

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