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Submitted by jdabramson on


This question is for my wife. She has been at her job for 7 months now and has a good relationship with her direct. However, one of her superiors often dumps her work onto my wife as well as uses her desk to write notes and such. I am looking for opinions on how to find a resolution to this.

More Information:
[list]My wife's desk is in entrance area to the offices (located in a converted house).
My wife's direct is a hands off manager.
My wife works for a small university.

tlhausmann's picture
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I am confused. Is the issue that your wife does not want the work delegated to her or that her boss occasionally uses her desk during off-work hours? I'm just not clear about what is meant by "write notes and such"

Did you mean to say your wife's BOSS (not direct) is a hands-off manager? What behaviors are being observed to lead you to that conclusion?

jdabramson's picture
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Sorry for not being clear.

Her indirect superior does not seem to respect my wife's personal space by filling out her notes, sealing envelopes, and using the computer at my wife's desk.

The other issue is that the same indirect superior will redirect her work to my wife that has been procrastinated on, eg., an item that was already two weeks behind was given to my wife while the superior went to a hair appointment.

kklogic's picture

If it were me, I would email my direct supervisor and CC this indirect with something like, "Dear Boss, Suzi has asked me to work on X, please let me know where that fits with the other priorities you have assigned to me." That's at least a start.

As to the desk use, it's rude - but I don't know if it's actionable per se because this person is her superior.

HMac's picture

[quote="kklogic"]As to the desk use, it's rude - but I don't know if it's actionable per se because this person is her superior.[/quote]

That's what struck me about this too - consider dealing with this as you would with other actions by a rude person - maybe your wide is overcompicating this part of the problem because of the organizational dynamics.


FlatFeeKing's picture

So the boss is a rude person?

thaGUma's picture

jd, considering the desk - can your wife acquire a second chair so that her boss can use part of her desk when needed? All her boss may actually want is a flat space near the entrance to take care of last minute and minor things. If your wife's desk is the only suitable space in the vicinity then it may be appropriate for it to be used. Keep a clear corner and try not to see it as an invasion of personal space.

Dealing with unfinished work being (un) delegated is difficult as you rightly state it is often something that a boss hasn't done and suddenly it becomes their direct's urgent taks. Explain how disruptive this is to normal working, but be prepared to accept that oftentimes it is more important that the new work is done. Pro-active discussions with the boss can assist in identifying forthcoming tasks that need completion.


US41's picture

In MT world, superiors and directs have specific meanings. Your "superiors" are the people in your chain of command - your boss, your boss's boss, etc.
Your "directs" are the people who report directly to you.

I read your message to mean that the boss's peer was the person using the desk rudely.

There are several possible solutions. Unfortunately for your wife, all of them involve confrontation:

* Ask the boss's peer, "Don't you have your own desk? Do you mind?" Say it with a smile as if half-joking. If she frowns when she says it, it will go over badly.

* Go to the boss and say, "Your peer is encroaching on my personal space. I don't know how to handle it. Can you help me out? I don't want to make things tougher for you."

* Put a jar on the desk with a dollar in it. Fold a card in half and sit it down next to the jar and write on it, "Please donate $1.00 each time you use my desk as a public workspace." She might make some lunch money, or people might take the hint.

* Do nothing and continue to suffer the indignity of it all - not my preference.

The 2nd option is probably the most MT approved sort of response. Escalations to your boss's peers should go through your boss. The relationship with that person is owned by him and you shouldn't be risking it.

kklogic's picture

You know, the more I think about the desk problem, the more I think that M&M would say that your wife is being poked by an umbrella. There's nothing destructive about this person's use of her desk -- nor is that your wife's personal property. I fully agree that it is very rude behavior, but I'm not sure it's really THAT big of deal. From what you've said, I think there are bigger fish to fry here -- namely the part where you say she has a hands-off manager.