Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
My manager often asks me to do a task, which I’ll work on and submit to her, then she’ll get back to me saying that she already took care of it days earlier. I don’t mind doing the tasks themselves, but I feel that there’s no point in my doing them at all since she does them anyway and she never looks at my work. Any advice?
Mr. Make Work
Dear Mr. Work,
My mother often leaves me urgent voicemails telling me that she can’t attach a file to her email, or some other non-urgent crisis, followed five minutes later by another voicemail saying to ignore the first voicemail. As much as I want to just delete all her voicemails without listening to them I do worry that maybe one day I’ll get one that says, “I’m bleeding and need to get to a hospital.” I doubt that the next voicemail will be “Ignore that; I just spilled some ketchup.”
If you haven’t gotten my drift (and why should you have really?), I want to point out that there three things you can do with your manager.
Tell her that in the past when she asked you to [insert specific tasks here], and she then did them herself, you felt very frustrated because you truly want to help her and the team, and wished you’d known what you could have spent your time doing instead of doing [insert same specific tasks here].
When she assigns you another task that you feel she might take on herself you could say, “I’m more than happy and eager to take care of that, but in the past you’ve often completed things like this yourself—I’m thinking about [insert a couple of examples here]. So would it make sense for me to do [insert an additional piece of work that you know would add value to this task] in addition or instead?
Ignore all the advice I just gave you and look at these tasks as learning experiences.
I hope that’s helpful. I have to call my mother now and remind her to [insert something here].