IT Employment

But that's not in my job description

What do you do when you're being asked to do more than was initially indicated when you accepted your job?

A reader recently wrote to me asking me to address the issue of employees having to perform duties that are not in their job description. This particular IT pro was given a good deal more duties than she initially signed on for and was asking if she should ask for a raise.

First, let me say that this is an extremely common occurrence. It's especially true since many companies are forced to do more with fewer employees due to layoffs. A lot of people are so grateful to still be employed in this economy that they hesitate to say anything until their job load has just about doubled.

How do you tell when things have gone too far and what can you do? Here are some things to consider:

Do you have an employment contract?

Meant to provide key employees with a carefully designed set of incentives, a good employment contract will spell out the scope of an employee's responsibility to the company, including your title.

If your employment contract is explicit, you can always refer to it when approaching your manager about duties that aren't included. If it's not explicit, then a clever manager can manipulate around what was stated and what is being asked. It's not easy to ask for clarification on an employment contract during the hiring process, but it's something you should do.

What types of duties are you being asked to do?

If you were hired on as a Support pro but your boss asks you to clean his office, then obviously you need to put your foot down, preferably on your boss's head. But if someone is asking you to let the Fed Ex guy in because your desk is next to the entrance, I'm not sure that's worth creating a ruckus over.

There are always going to be extra duties that could not have been foreseen. Employees who bend a little are usually regarded well by their managers. Divas are not. Also, you don't want to bend too far in the other direction and be an absolute door mat.

Are the extra duties interfering with your primary duties?

If so, you definitely need to speak with your manager. Sometimes managers are too distracted (or lazy) to figure out that all the little extra duties she's asking you to do can accumulate to an unmanageable mess. It's really up to you to bring this to light. Of course, this is not saying that every manager will be receptive to that because a good many of them do this on purpose.

Just have a nice conversation in which you ask if you could be compensated for the extra duties you didn't know would be yours when you took the job.

Anyone have any experience having this talk with a manager? If so, how did it turn out?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

38 comments
anonysmith
anonysmith

im a boiler and refrigeration operator and that is more or less all that is stated in my job description. ive been working in this role for 3 years now and have seen my work load increase much in the way as is described above. i am expected to carry out maintenance work which i have no qualifications for, i have to pick up parts from our drystores which involve my going off site on a forklift to pick up their parts which most of them are also forklift trained to do so. i also am expected to carry out engineer checks round our factory. i have raised this issue with my boss and the response i got was that these extra duties are to protect and secure my job. i am currently looking to ask for a pay increase as other people doing far less and with little to no qualifications in other roles are being paid more than myself which is demoralising to say the least. point is, my role is probably the most important and critical parts in the running of the factory and i feel more like a whipping boy than what i was trained and qualified to do. please feel free to give any advice on how i can improve my current situation.

birumut
birumut

Great!!! thanks for sharing this information to us! sesli chat sesli sohbet

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson

Sadly, the company's CEO will hand you a job, expect you to do it in addition to (as opposed to 'instead of') other duties. And won't negotiate an additional penny even if the task is obviously 'above and beyond'. For example, I happen to have some legal background in addition to my other skills. My job does NOT include legal responsibilities. But after I pointed out as a courtesy that the current business contract covering my product was obsolete - the CEO wanted ME to re-write the contract rather than pay his attorney to do the job - with NO additional compensation or substitution of other responsibilities. Sorry boss. Like many employees I've been suckered too often for it to happen again. I refused. He pouted and refused to talk with me for months, but he knew what would happen if he tried to illegally bully me - legal background, remember?

cabaho
cabaho

My Job Title is Systems Administrator, when i joined this Employer, 3 years ago they did not have a website & Intranet. i volunteered to develop them on the promise i will be recorganised including salary increment. i have been updating them once a week, last week i approached Head ICT for a talk about the promises. i thought our discussion was cordial, but actually she did not like it. after three days, she asked me to job rotate and make sure i train some one else to handle web developmen. i agreed to job rotate to hadle Network Administration,but not training some one to give out my extra skills for free.She recommended i should be suspended for insurbodination, & Excutive Director did that. i am supposed to report back to work after 10 workind days

RayJeff
RayJeff

I was working at a small liberal arts college. The manager (the director of the main program of the division I worked in) I could really not talk to as she had no understanding of IT. I couldn't really talk to her as she wasn't a "rock the boat" person. Me being hired was two-fold. One, my primary duties were to be the tech support and and managing a computer lab, as well as being the help desk for the division. What I didn't know, and what wasn't outlined in the job description was that I was going to be a database developer and admin on a major project. Because of the project, I had two managers to work under; my immediate supervisor and the colleges MIS director. There was differing opinions as to how I was to perform my new duties and my other primary duties. And because my immediate supervisor wasn't a rock the boat person, whatever the MIS director said, no matter how much it had nothing to do with the project, she let it go without question. Because of all of this, I had to go to my immediate supervisors supervisor, who is the chairperson of the division, as she was my immediate supervisor when my immediate wasnt there. So we talked to try to find out who was really my supervisor. The result, we could not get an answer to that question. We needed to know this because of the several managers I had to report to. Because I worked directly in the division, I had better understanding of the needs and requirements of the project; the MIS director had no such understanding, yet because of his position I had to do what he said, even though I had validity to my decisions on the project, that were backed up by the division chair, my immediate supervisor and the consultants contracted to work with us. In all, talking to my supervisors (managers) in the division made no different as they could not/did not help. Oh yea, I never got paid more for the extra work I did. My contract was changed from part-time to full time for the remainder of the project, which was a little over a year; But, my contract changed back to part-time, even though the added work of doing the database work became a permanent part of my duties.

ITsupportCOC
ITsupportCOC

I get one every quarter...I wish I could do one for my boss. LOL

pbohanna
pbohanna

Every three to six months make sure that you are on track meeting your agreed objectivest, your boss will review your performance objectives and rate what has been achieved. In most performance agreements I have found the 'Other duties as required' catch all, at one job I found that I was doing most of my bosses duties and my work was suffering. I soon found out that my boss had a new job to go to and needed someone to take over his duties. If you find that you are doing tasks that are not in your job description, ask around and find out what is going on, the company might be preparing for restructuring and the extra duties you are now doing could be needed in a new position. Anyway the extra duties need to be included in an agreement.

RAMOSPCREPAIR
RAMOSPCREPAIR

I recently started a new job and all I do his work. My job is really 4 main jobs with 4 smaller jobs; I have no support staff and no aides. I am a computer and media technician. Its a thankless job, but I do it because no else has the guts to do so much for so little pay. What that means is: it's like being a navy diver in the movie "Men of Honor." The tech is not confrontational person, he is a salvage expert and gets things done regardless of titles, If a computer is broke I fix it, if a hard drive crashes I restore it, if a projector goes out, I fix it or set up a portable. Hell, I don't know why anyone would ever want to be a technician, at the very most you solve a difficult problem and drown under a sea of other problems and that is closest you will never get to being a hero. Its called work, not complain. You cowboy up and do your job or you rely on the U.S. government that has no clue and no money. I work harder than I need to and I get a paycheck. Would you rather people quit and "taxpayers" pay an unemployment check. I rather complain to myself , reforge my skills, and become indispensable because if I leave, then 8 jobs will require 8 different people because no one else will work as hard as I do for what I'm paid: even if not true, I tell myself this everyday!!

AlexD2000
AlexD2000

I find that being asked to do other jobs, other than that for which you were contracted gives some added variety, and if you do a laborious job helps pass time during the day. The only thing that drove me to near breakdown with one employer was the constant 10 jobs at once, then of all things being shouted at for not finishing the first job, day in day out and also no praise 10 days holiday a year, 9 grand a year pay. and the BOSS 100G's

ashepard
ashepard

Common problems and solutions 1) They are not sure where to go so they come to me 2) If it's something I want to do or learn than no problem 3) See if it sets a precident and how much risk. The ODAR (other duties as required) sometimes stinks but it was in the job description. For a DBA wiring an electrical panel or UPS is not bad. Plumbing the sprinkler system is risky. 4) If its not - is there someone else? 5) I ask my boss "What do you want me to stop doing to take care of ______" 6) Remeber as president your own small business you may have to empty the presidents trash can or clean the bathroom.

ecurbnosllit
ecurbnosllit

I have what is called a "work ethic". I was brought up to do the" BEST that I can" no matter what. When employed by someone or company, Remember, they are not doing you any favors. You are merely a number, But if the pay is good, you have some respect, GO THE EXTRA MILE and do things that "don't fit into your job description" for Christ's Sake!!!!!! What is wrong with you people? No one is indispensable. You are probably working because you need your job. Doing a little extra DOES mean something when you come up for raises, merit increases,etc and also PROMOTIONS!!!!! GROW UP AND STOP THINKING YOU ARE ALL PERFECT!!!!!!!

ITsupportCOC
ITsupportCOC

quote: "those who bend a little are usually regarded well by their managers" Um...not so much...really it means their managers can pile on more and more and more while they go to Water Works with their kids for two days. Once you start doing extra, going above and beyond they start to expect it and when you dont do it so you can to your real work you get dinged. When you try to talk to your boss about it you get the catch phrase: "job duties as assigned" (that one will get you every time). Im not saying that is the case for everyone or everything, and occasionally it's a one or two time deal but for the most part once you show you can do it and you do it well consider it now part of your job duties as assigned.

dalmei
dalmei

... by the way people treat each other during recession. It's easy to be "nice" to people when times are good and also easy to get extremely sloppy with times are bad. In a time when big corporations are having record profits they aren't giving any crumbs to their bottom 90% employees. This will come back to bite them. One day.

irvan.hendrik
irvan.hendrik

As long it is still in the scope of IT, I am more than gladly accept it just for the experience at least if I didn't get any raise :)

gjm123
gjm123

This is an extremely common catch-all found in many, many contracts. I was employed as a network support specialist about 11 years ago, but now manage multi-company projects. No significant raise, and no change of job title.

Englebert
Englebert

...there are 2 page descriptions of job duties for a 2 month contract. The last description of which says ' any other duties as assigned ' The employer ain't dumb. They've covered themselves nicely.

DigiTechDude
DigiTechDude

I've brought this up and got nowhere. My job description was rewritten at some point after I was hired, and it now includes a catch-all as the last of a list of duties. It's along the lines of "other tasks and duties as required". Catch all that gets whatever the company wants from me without having to pay for it, since they can say the things I'm taking on are all in my job description so not worthy of a raise, promotion, etc.

rhonin
rhonin

One tact I usually take; If it is close to my job/skill set I will try o accommodate the request. I will though always ask myself the question; will this/these tasks add significantly to my work load or place me at a task overload point. I will then not hesitate to speak up and use this as the base point of my decision. I find most managers will respond favorably. ;)

santeewelding
santeewelding

After my boss found out about the knife thing, and gun stuff, I had to look after that aspect of office life while he made good his way out the back door.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Quality, Time, Expense - Pick any two of the three... Also I noticed that there is no mention of exempt versus non-exempt in this discussion. If one is being asked to do more and is non-exempt, paid overtime is a great managerial inertial brake. As to base salary raise you have to take into account scope/complexity. While being the loading dock receiver might net you more per hour (OT), only duties which exceed your current level would necessitate a base salary raise discussion.

ITsupportCOC
ITsupportCOC

Not saying anyone is not glad that "at least they have a job"--espc from someone that has been laid off for any lenght of time...Im sure we are all glad that we have a job (at least those of us that do). There's a difference between work and work horse.... What I take from this article is that because of this current econonmy is that employers can exploit their employees and take advantage of those that dont have a choice but to stick with a crappy unapreciative company until they can either find a better place to be, things change at the current job, they win the lottery or the economy changes. Employers are thankless and dont care that their best employees are over worked, under appreciated and Im guess most of us are underpaid. It annoys me to no end when someone says: at least you have a job.....Obvioulsy those that throws that one out either doesnt need to work, just got a job, loves their job, loves their boss and/or they are getting paid appropriately. I "cowboy up" every day. Im glad I have a job--and yes, I am looking for a better job every day-- I do multiple jobs that would require 4 other people because of it....however, with what I get paid, (and because of the cost of benes going up, I make 300 less now than when I started 2 yrs ago), the hours I put in and the work I do because "no one does it as good as I do", I should be allowed to discuss the annoyonces about it if I so feel the need!!....the moron down the hallway makes more than I do, does less than I do and comes in late and leaves early....Grrrrrrrrrrr....Its all who you brown nose and I dont like the smell... I dont like being stomped on but I dont have a choice--and Im not a welfare rat that I want to depend on someone else to foot the bill. I have earned the right to diss what I dont like about my job.

RayJeff
RayJeff

But circumnavigating the Earth without expecting it is truly another. I don't mind going the extra mile. I love going the extra mile. But, if I am going to do extra work, I like to know about it upfront, whether I have the knowledge and experience to do it. And if the extra work is more than just menial, it's fair to be compensated accordingly.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

opposed to seagull management... So let me get this straight. You take offense at putting one's foot down over exponentially increasing workloads oft times which are above one's paygrade with no renumeration for that level of service? How is this thinking one is perfect? That scenario would fall under Toni's admonition to not become a doormat...

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

I don't mind duties as assigned but if they become a substantial part of my job, then a new JD is in order with a re-evaluation of rank and pay. But you have to document and do a pretty pie chart along with executive summary which includes peer salary review for those duties including seniority.

CrankyOldBugger
CrankyOldBugger

I'm happy to just have a job. If the company needs me to fill in where other departments might be lacking temporarily (i.e. vacations, etc.), then I will do what I'm told. IT, as I've seen it over the last thirty years, isn't a unionized environment. You may be help desk one day, network admin the next, then pushing a broom the day after that. You do what the company needs, or you can forget about that paycheque. Within reason, of course. My boss would never expect me to go out and sell to customers or do something that I'm not qualified to do. But it's not unreasonable for him to expect me to help out where needed, for the good of the company. Remember, your job isn't about what the company can do for you, it's about what you can do for the company. A healthy bottom line means a paycheque for you, whereas a staff full of "not my job" types means increases expenses and lower profits. And low profits means cutbacks. So guess which employee they'll let go first, the "not my job" type or the one who makes an honest effort to help the company.

augspurgerr
augspurgerr

the company I work for added the catch all also. And employees kept quitting faster than they were hiring. So many of the responsibility was put on myself, and they changed my job description to make it as broad as possible. So I wish I would of gone to my manager earlier, but since they changed the rules, I am stuck.

s.p.page
s.p.page

It would be a null and void contract if you didnt sign any thing. Also did you read the new contract, if so you should of asked for a detailed description of what other tasks and duties would be required of you.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I have always found that extra duties lead to promotion. If this is not the case then you are doing something wrong. Sure, there are many employers who want you to do more things for less money (Read: most of them) but you need to work with this. Once you have proven that you can do multiple jobs at once then you simply ask to be paid for it. Never complain about the extra work. You don't want to look at things in this light. Instead be receptive and thankful for the extra work while you demand more money. Talk about your value to the company. If you take on too many roles you may become indespensible and they will bust out the golden handcuffs to keep you around.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

This story sounds interesting but completely fails to follow through with substance. Don't be such a literary tease Santee.

kabrooke
kabrooke

Also very dodgy when bosses who are earning twice as much as you, expect you to do parts of their job (that isn't in your job description), want you to implement a system while you still keep your same duties,keep the same paycheck, and then have the hide to think you will want to do it for love of the company! Nevermind mentioning the mess you have already cleaned up that others have left behind. Needless to say I left the organisation. Some employers think employees are stupid!

irav
irav

You are the perfect employee: afraid to loose your job, being a nobody within the company, live to work. For the sake of your wife I hope you are single. And if you ever get ill, don't expect a large bunch of flowers: you will be replaced!

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

A JD is part of ongoing performance planning/evaluation. Signatures on these are only of the "yes I received it" type. And the "as assigned" item is a standard boilerplate which shouldn't exceed 10% of the period. Contracts are for a defined period of work with a definitive start and end date (think teachers.) You don't get a contract, you don't work in other words...

santeewelding
santeewelding

Where, if I told you more,.. I otherwise remind that "office life" is not all quite the controlled drawing-room scenario portrayed here and in the responses.

RayJeff
RayJeff

I was doing part of my boss' duties. And then they had the nerve to say that when I brought up getting extra pay for the project I worked on, they said that they weren't being paid any extra for the project. What's funny was that along with their regular salary as an associate professor, they were getting a paycheck from the program director position, and also getting a stipend from a government grant for support services for the program they directed. I could've easily gotten an higher salary from the grant money because my position falls under support services in the program.

CrankyOldBugger
CrankyOldBugger

Quite the opposite, irav. I'm actually very happy with my job. My wife has the same work ethics that I do; she's just as devoted to her work as I am to mine. And after twenty-two years of marriage, things couldn't be better for us. Perhaps, irav, you're young enough that you don't mind bouncing from one job to the next, but at my age a stable job is priceless. I hope to still be here when I retire (still some ways off!), God willing. So I have a good job, a good marriage, a good life. What's it going to hurt me to show my appreciation and be a good worker in return?

ashepard
ashepard

Charles, I hear you. Scope creep or adittional work "as long as you are in there" can kill.

Editor's Picks