Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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Let’s face it: we’re exhausted. During the pandemic, many workers have been having to take on more responsibilities, and that’s frustrating.

Many of us are dealing with managers who have been putting more and more on our plates — sometimes even piling their responsibilities on top of our own. So, how do you deal with a manager who just isn’t pulling their weight? Here are six phrases to try.

1. “I’d appreciate some more guidance…”

This is ideal for situations where your manager is putting expectations on you and asking you to take on responsibilities that simply aren’t within the purview of your role. While it can be encouraging to know that your boss believes you're capable of performing these tasks, you simply may not be equipped to take them on without being properly trained or informed. Asking for guidance puts your manager in a position to recognize that they might be asking too much of you — and gives them a chance to help you.

2. “Could we discuss my new responsibilities?”

By saying this, you’re giving a voice to the elephant in the room: the fact that you’re taking on new responsibilities — whether you wanted to or not — and giving your boss the opportunity to work through it with you. They might not even realize they’re putting so much on your plate. This phrase helps them see that.

3. “I have some concerns about…”

It’s okay to express concerns about the amount of work your boss is asking you to complete. In fact, it’s a mature way of saying so. Rather than outright saying “No, I won’t do that” or getting upset in silence and letting it fester, you’re taking a big step forward and standing up for yourself. Hopefully, this will lead to a productive conversation about responsibilities and expectations.

4. “I appreciate the opportunity to take on more responsibilities, and I’d like to discuss…”

Here’s one that can lead to a discussion about compensation for the extra responsibilities you’ve assumed. For example, it opens the door to ask for a raise and/or a promotion. You’re acknowledging the fact that you HAVE taken on more work and responsibilities that are outside of your job description. You're simply asking to be compensated fairly for these efforts.

5. “I have a lot on my plate right now…”

Remember: your boss may not recognize all the responsibilities you’ve been taking on — largely thanks to them. This is an acknowledgment of the fact that they’ve been over-delegating and makes them aware of what’s going on. This is the beginning of a larger discussion about what, exactly, you have on your to-do list — and how it might be too much.

6. “Could we discuss dividing up the work on...?”

Finally, this is a somewhat “nicer” way of voicing your frustration with your manager putting too much on your plate and asking them to shoulder some of the burden and take responsibility.  This will give them the opportunity to step up. 

About the Career Expert:

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

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