A reader writes:
I was recently hired as a Personal Assistant/Office Manager at a non-profit organization and I love my job!
However, there is one issue. During the interview process, I was told I would be working 24 hours a week. Once they called me and said I was hired, I was told (in the same conversation) that the position had been changed to 18 hours a week due to finances. I accepted the job and have been there almost a month.
The previous Personal Assistant who retired has trained me and still volunteers there a couple times a week. I have realized that my boss is expecting me to perform the same amount of work in 18 hours that previously was done in 24 hours a week, AND take on new responsibilities such as designing artwork for banners, and other various time consuming tasks. I am having trouble keeping up even though I am experienced, have been trained and fully understand my duties.
My lack of time is not because of a learning curve. The previous person in my position told me that she doesn't know how the heck I will accomplish this in 18 hours a week. I handle the finances so I can see that there is wiggle room in the budget, but only by cutting back on other things. They have already saved money by hiring me at a lower hourly rate than my predecessor.
There are two possibilities here. Either:
1. Your boss is guilty of sloppy thinking -- knowing she wants to save money and just hoping that this plan will make it happen, without thinking through how it'll actually work to cut the hours by 25% while increasing the workload.
2. The previous assistant was really inefficient, and they'd been unhappy with how little she was accomplishing. In looking at the workload, they felt it reasonably could be done in fewer hours per week, and with more work on top of it.
So what you need to do is talk to your boss and figure out what's going on. Say something like this: "I know this position was recently cut by 25%, from 24 hours to 18 hours, but from what I understand, the workload wasn't cut at all. In fact, it seems like the workload has actually been increased. I'm concerned about my ability to do in 18 hours what Ellen was doing in 24 hours, plus having more work on top of that. So I wanted to find out from you what the thinking was with my position: Were you thinking that Ellen wasn't as efficient as she could have been, and so therefore the cut in hours shouldn't matter if her replacement works at a higher level? Or is there something else going on that I'm not seeing?"
Now, your boss may say that Ellen wasn't inefficient at all, but that money is tight and so they were just forced into cutting the hours. If that happens, tell her that you understand and would like to talk about what changes to make to the job so that the workload matches the cut in hours. If this is what's going on, she probably hasn't fully thought through the reality of the situation, so you may need to be explicit: "On the face of it, I'm not sure it's realistic for me to take on the same workload as she did with fewer hours. Did you have ideas for how that would work?"
Assuming that she doesn't, you can then respond with something like: "I see a couple of possibilities: I'd be happy to increase my hours to get it all done, or if that's not an option, I have some suggestions for projects to remove from this role."
If she's not willing to remove any projects from your plate, then you say, "I'm concerned about setting myself up for failure here. I can certainly keep all of this on my plate, but I think we're in agreement that it's not realistic to do the same amount in less time, so clearly some things aren't going to get done. I'd rather talk about what those items should be, so that we're deliberate about it, rather than just having things fall through the cracks or be a rush job that isn't high quality."
On the other hand, if it's option #2, and Ellen wasn't performing at a high level, then your boss's expectations might be reasonable. If your she tells you that, try to take it with an open mind and see how things go over the next few weeks. Look for efficiencies (if Ellen trained you, maybe her training wasn't the best), cut out time-wasters, and see if you still have a problem on your hands. If you do, then you go back to your boss and raise the issue again.