You’re probably like most workers and want to help your fellow employees in the name of teamwork. Okay, maybe you’re not like most workers, but you want to leave a good impression on your bosses.
Heck, maybe most workers don’t want to help their fellow employees, but you’re a rare kind. Either way, you must be careful not to be taken advantage of. In fact, it might already be happening if you’re asking the question, “Why are my coworkers dumping work on me?”
This piece will delve into why your coworkers might be shoveling their work over to you and what you can do.
Here’s why your coworkers are dumping their work on you.
No matter at what point you are in your current career, dealing with coworkers who force their work on you can be frustrating. It’s not uncommon or unreasonable to get tired of covering for coworkers or frustrated doing two or three jobs you never discussed during the pre-hire stage.
However, your coworkers might have some good and not-so-good reasons for doing what they do. These are some common reasons you might be asking, “Why are my coworkers dumping work on me?”
They’re overwhelmed with work.
The most justifiable reason other workers may ask you to help them is that they are legitimately overwhelmed with work tasks. Perhaps you are all working together during the holiday season.
Maybe other workers are out sick, or someone has an injury. It’s not odd or wrong for your coworkers to try to get help in an extenuating circumstance.
They’re improperly trained.
You might be dealing with underdeveloped or improperly trained employees if you think, “My coworker doesn’t know how to do her job.” Such a coworker may dump the work on you because she doesn’t know how to do it.
Maybe that person doesn’t want to look bad by asking the boss for help this late in the game and instead uses you as the fall person. You may be the newer employee everyone expects to mess up. Therefore, your coworkers might pass the work they’re not that good at to you, so you’ll take the heat or criticism from management.
They dump work on all the “newbies.”
Sometimes, workplaces are like high schools, and new employees feel they must go through initiations to work in peace. Your peers might have a ritual of pushing new workers to their limits by overloading them and doing other actions and activities that might be stressful.
They have an interim leadership position.
It could be that your coworker delegates work to a team member as a part of his or her job. That particular employee could be partaking in a pre-management or manager-in-training program. Perhaps, the manager trainees have to show their skills in various management areas, such as task delegation.
They have an imaginary leadership position.
For every person who has a real leadership position, there’s someone out there who doesn’t. This person may want to be a manager, but for some reason, the company does not find him or her desirable.
Thus, the worker has assigned the supervisor role to himself or herself and has decided to act out the role by bossing others around, fake micromanaging, and assigning tasks without authority. You’ll easily spot this type of individual because you’ll ask, “What should I do if this coworker treats me like a subordinate?”
They’re an opportunist.
An opportunist coworker is someone who takes advantage of any opportunities they see. They don’t necessarily do it maliciously. They do what works for them without care or concern for other people.
Therefore, the person you are dealing with might be taking advantage of your “green” work status, kindness, or fear of getting into trouble with the bosses. The chances are high that you will need to put some effort into stopping these behaviors if you want to prevent yourself from being used in the same manner in the future.
Are you obligated when someone asks you to do a task out of your role?
There used to be a time when the answer to this question was a definitive “no.” Nowadays, the answer can be quite different. It depends on the terms of your employment and who is asking you to do the additional task.
At-will employment is always iffy because the employer has the right to change the job tasks to include activities not mentioned in the initial hiring. Thus, it might be acceptable for your employer to ask you to do things you are not used to doing within the scope of your job.
However, your coworker may not have the authority to request that you do such work unless he or she has a supervisory position. In that situation, you may have the leeway to decline the request without having to experience adverse action.
What is being a team player vs being taken advantage of?
You’ve probably heard different organizations discussing the concept of “team players.” Employers hold these people in regard because of their willingness to put forth the extra effort and sacrifice for the company’s good.
However, a fine line exists between being a team player and allowing someone else to take advantage of you. Many workers do not know where to draw this line and resent their employer or leave a job they feel is overly demanding.
Evaluating your feelings and attitudes is the best way to tell if you are being a team player or a pushover. The tables are well balanced, and you are a team player if you feel your employer notices and appreciates your contributions and reciprocates where applicable. You are most likely being taken advantage of if you feel any of the following ways:
Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted
You will most likely feel emotionally and physically drained if you are overworked and used by someone at your job. You may have a problem getting adequate sleep because of your worries when you’re not at work.
Resentful Due to Non-Reciprocation
You might feel that your job doesn’t give back to you for any of the extra work you do. You must be careful with this mindset, because it’s not necessarily the employer’s fault. Your coworkers could be taking advantage of you without your employers knowing anything about it.
You will most likely feel underappreciated if you’re doing too much for too little. Be sure to re-evaluate your situation and ensure that your employer isn’t showing you any appreciation before you take any action. Some employers show their appreciation differently from others.
Consider whether your job is giving your raises, awards, praise, or additional responsibilities, which can sometimes be a form of appreciation.
Angry at Coworkers for Shifting Duties
You may also be rightfully angry with your coworkers for putting their duties on you. However, holding all of these negative feelings inside can take a toll on you. It will be healthier and much more fruitful if you do something about it.
Here’s how to deal with a coworker who wants you to do their work.
These are some effective ways to deal with a coworker or coworkers who try to put their work on you. They have been proven effective.
1. Consider what the person is asking you to do.
The first thing to do is to consider what your coworker is asking of you. Are the tasks doable? Are they ridiculously laborious or not very strenuous? Does it seem like your coworker genuinely needs your help?
Those are all ideas to consider before you say yes or no regarding this favor or task. Don’t answer the question right away. Instead, ask this person to give you a minute to think about what you have on your plate.
2. Decide whether you can perform your duties and the additional work.
Next, think about how accepting the task will affect your work performance. Ensure that you can still perform all your assigned job tasks promptly if you help your coworkers.
You don’t want to get involved and then get reprimanded for not doing your assigned work on time. Many workers respond too quickly to assist others, and doing so at the wrong time can end up hurting your reputation.
3. Decline gracefully if you can’t do the work.
It’s okay to decline the extra work gracefully. You can let your coworker know the project doesn’t fit into your agenda nicely. You do not have to be rude or indignant. As a matter of fact, you’ll be much better off if you’re kind instead of harsh.
Tell your coworker that you are sorry, but you have a lot on your plate and want to satisfy the powers that be just like they do.
4. Discuss the matter with the supervisor.
You must speak to your supervisor if you are the continual object of special work requests. Try to settle this matter with the employee first by asking that person to refrain from asking you to do his or her work.
If that doesn’t stop the requests, you can bring it up in an open-door meeting with your supervisor. The problem might resolve once the manager speaks to your coworkers about it. If it continues, you can request a second meeting with your supervisor and let that person know what’s going on.
You should now be well-equipped to handle coworkers who try to put their work on you. By all means, do the work if you’re free and it seems reasonable.
However, you don’t have to do anything that puts you out of your regular line of work and affects your performance. Use the information provided above to find a solution and continue being your amazing worker.
- How to Deal with a Boss Who Keeps Dumping Work on You
- 15 Signs of Insecure Coworkers (and How to Handle Them)
- How to Spot the Warning Signs of Favoritism at Work
- How To Tell Someone They Are Not A Team Player (Without Offending Them)
- Sample Email To Boss About Workload Without Sounding Whiny
Founder of Eggcellentwork.com. With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.