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When to Draw the Line With Your Boss’ Expectations

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In an uncertain economy bosses often become more demanding than ever. Their company may be poised to crash if they don’t make an abrupt turnaround to boost sales and productivity. But even in stable market conditions, some managers are just plain obnoxious in making outrageous demands on their employees. If you are wondering whether your boss is unreasonable or expects too much, consider each of the following ways in which you may be dealing with unfair expectations.


If your workday is on the clock, don’t let the boss ask for favors before or after your scheduled time. Some employers have been known to wait until near closing to ask an employee to take on an extra task with the goal of not having to pay for it. The bully boss often uses statements like “you owe me” or “this is job security.” Even if joking, a jog security threat is implied. If you are asked to work before or after your workday, ask if you should clock in again or at least be considered for compensation time.


Successful companies tend to recognize and reward their employees, which fosters loyalty and productivity. If your company doesn’t do this at least once a year, suggest it to the person in charge. You might recommend various employee recognition ideas, like an annual dinner hosted by the company, bonuses, or promotion opportunities. When employees feel appreciated, they remain committed to the organization.


Many companies do not want a sick employee coming to work with the flu or anything catchy. Injured workers who try to work may prolong the recovery period, costing the employer time and money in terms of productivity. However, some employers have no qualms about calling, texting, or emailing you at home on a sick day to ask questions or get assistance. When you take a sick day, make it count by turning off your computer and phone, or at least not responding if your boss tries to contact you.


Employees with families typically schedule kids’ activities and celebrations around their work schedule. A boss may try to make an employee feel guilty for not working late or coming in on an unscheduled day if something needs to be done. However, it’s important to stick to your family plans unless a true emergency occurs and your family can spare you. Usually, this is not the case.


Being asked to lie, cheat, or deceive someone, even if that includes just keeping quiet, is unethical and may be illegal. If your boss asks you to do something that you feel is wrong, politely explain why you can’t do it. If possible, offer an alternative. “I am uncomfortable saying you are not in the office when you are, Mr. Higgins, but I can tell callers that you cannot take the call at the moment and will call them back when convenient.” Hopefully the boss will be positively influenced by your ethical standards.


When an employee shortage or work overload occurs, some employees are asked to take on unpaid extra duties. Often this is explained as a temporary or stop-gap measure, but it can become permanent. If you agree to help out temporarily, keep track of your hours and extra workload. When the time is right without waiting too long, meet with your boss to discuss compensation or the transfer of extra duties to someone else.

Some bosses unintentionally take advantage of good employees, while others seem to plot ways of getting the most work for meagre pay. When you feel put upon, discuss concerns with the boss for clarity.


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