Hello, this is my first time posting to the forum boards, however, there is something that has been driving me crazy now for months. I was trying to be patient to see if Mark or Mike would ever engage with the issue, but unfortunately my patience has been worn thin. I apologize for the long post, but I feel that providing some context to my issue will be key in providing appropriate feedback. So without further to do...

I am currently a young professional working as an ASM at a very large hardwood floor retail outfit. For the past 6 months or so I have been involved in the grooming process to become a store manager.I apologize for posting to a community who largely deals with professionals on an executive level rather than a lowly retail associates, however I feel that the principles and circumstances of my situation may very well transcend to the high levels of the corporate work environment. My boss has gotten himself very used to calling on me to take care of any and all issues that need to be taken care of around the store. The most prominent issue has been him becoming too comfortable calling me in on my days off. I have worked at least one day off nearly every week of the year. Whether it has been covering for a sick associate, or he just "feels" that the business would benefit from my being there, this has got to stop at some point. As of my last paycheck, I have totaled 220 hours of overtime YTD. What has become more frustrating is that all of this is done through the perspective of "development". Just last week I had actually confronted him on the issue and his answer was just as expected. It went something along the lines of "if you don't want to step up and prove that you are willing to do anything for a career opportunity, I totally understand". So to make a long story short I will just try to ask my question directly. 

At what point does developing an associate become simply dangling the proverbial carrot, and how does one go about drawing a hard line with a boss who seems to have no regard for the type of extra-work commitments that I am involved with. I am not looking for a way out of helping the success of the business ( as I am very passionate about that), but I feel that there is no question that my boss realizes the position that I am in and is loving every second of it. 

Any and all feedback will be greatly appreciated.  


jwappelhorst's picture

While I understand the desire to vent, be careful about carrying judgments about your supervisor's motivation. These thoughts will show up in your behavior. According to Manager Tools, a person is not ready for a promotion until they can handle all of  their own  and at least 50% of the roles of the new position well. To get that amount of experience and skills requires a lot of extra effort.

From experience of making hasty judgments myself, I can almost guarantee that your boss is not reveling in you working hard, he probably is very appreciative and overworked himself Also remember that you do not have all the information your boss has as he is making these decisions. There may be budget considerations, skill gaps with other employees, lack of support from further up the chain, etc...  The question is whether or not the extra work (that you get paid for as overtime) is preparing you for your next career move whether at your current company or elsewhere. If so then accept the opportunity to learn and progress. If not then you may have bigger issues long term to deal with than you workload. 



edzaun's picture

 Hi Reed,

I agree with JW and would like to add a few more thoughts:

From your post, I have taken two nuggets:

1. Your are in the management training program for your company or at least have been identified as a potential manager.

2. You are paid for overtime or compensated in some way.

While time off is important (there's a cast for that), managers are responsible for ensuring positions are filled and the work gets done. If there is no one to fill a necessary position, the manager must do it herself. I do not know if your manager is compensated for OT but you are. Therefore you are the logical first choice. Also, you working on days off demonstrates a willingness to do what is necessary to promote the needs of the business. Most managers in my experience work far more hours than they are compensated for every quarter, assuming an 8-hour day as standard. Since you are being compensated, you are not being taken advantage of. You are demonstrating manager-like dedication to your job. This is not a dangle. It might be unnecessary for the business but it is not a dangle.

One of the cornerstones of management, at least in Manager Tools circles, is delegation based on development and division of labor. It is simply a poor business decision for a higher paid employee do anything a lower paid employee can do. Pushing work down to the lowest level of competence is good management and a valuable lesson for every potential or current manager. This practice frees up higher level people to do what only they can do. It prepares the direct for higher management responsibilities and tasks by introducing them to what the boss does.

As your manager has gotten comfortable relying on you (your words), this sounds like a sign you have proven your value to the company as a person who is willing to get things done. It also sounds like you are getting valuable experience doing jobs you would not normally do in covering for other people. You get to see how the other half really lives, making you a better manager in the long run.

In a recent cast, M&W talked about an 18-36 month plan to get promoted. That's a year and a half to three years of extra effort before you can expect to get promoted. It takes a while and if you are in the right job, it will be worth it.

Try this as an experiment. Pick an upcoming period of your normally scheduled time off and let your boss know in advance you have plans and need that time. Do it calmly and professionally and see what happens when that period rolls around. If your boss insists you work, you might have an issue. If you get both (?) days off, you will know something you do not now. You have to give sufficient time, say a month, and you are justified because of the history of working your day(s) of each week. If you simply have to work because your boss demands it, you have lost nothing because your plans are actually to find out your status.

This is a one time experiment. Do not repeat it to get your days off for convenience, simply do it once to determine your boss's motives.

Think this through and move slowly. I understand your frustration. I shot myself in the foot several times when I was younger because I was impulsive and did things without thinking them through. You say you are a young professional so you may be in that same danger zone.

There is no hard line to draw regarding extra work. As a manager, you are expected to do what is necessary, including working on days off if the situation requires it. You can temper it, you can mitigate it but you will never eliminate it.

Think your decision through very carefully before you act. You might do more long-term harm than any temporary good.

Ed Zaun

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jacksal's picture


Sounds like you are frustrated with the current sitution that has been going on for months now.

Agree with JW and Ed who have provided great feedback, some options and next steps to consider.

Appreciate it is not easy but the feedback you are looking to obtain from MT is the dailogue you need to be having with your boss in due course and building and maintaining relationships takes time.

What is the basis of the grooming process to become a store manager? What does it entail? How long is the process? How is your performance and development measured? How often are you meeting with your store manager to discuss all of the above?

Intent is not something you can assume (as MT says) and managing ones emotions is not easy but your thoughts, behaviour and language 'my boss is definately taking advantage of me' and 'loving every second of it'. Sounds like you have been ruminating 'driving me crazy now for months'.  This will manifest in your behaviour towards your boss and potentially imact your performance, as stated by JW above. Beware the story your telling yourself and don't become a victim, villian or helpless in the process. 

Whilst your opinions vary sounds like you and your boss both agree on 'the success of the business' and your boss believes in grooming you to become a store manager. Focus on what you want , for yourself, your relationship and the organisation and hold onto and work towards that vision, as the outcome greatly impacts both your lives. 

Hopefully in time you can work with your boss to express your thoughts and feelings, understand what it is like for your boss and the pressures they are working under in managing the store. Brainstorm some ideas, move to action, test and follow up to confirm the outcome, as suggested by Ed.

People on MT are here to help regardless of our positions and I for one am not an executive so please don't assume. As a community we step in to support one another especiallly when Mark and Mike are busy running MT.

All the best and I look forward to hearing how you progress.

Cheers Allan 3365