Hi all,

Thanks for all of your helpful forum posts.

I have a question about how to handle (or at least wrap my head around) a situation where I feel I am being asked to "carry the water" of upper admin- that is unjust.

In my opinion one of my Directs has grown way beyond the written position and is not being rewarded/compensated by the organization.

- University Academic Library

My top performing Direct has, for 5 years, continually and consistently been taking on more assigned and delegated tasks.   Attitude and personal relationships are great.  She is well liked in the organization.  She is a high performer in both quality and quantity.

We share an office and get along very well.  (Yes, I share an office with a Direct)

We recently had a reclassification and job description review organization wide.    Over these 5 years I was only able to upgrade her classification one time, despite her increasing responsibilities beyond that.

This recent reclassification actually simplified her Job Description and made it very much smaller as well as inaccurate.   There are job tasks on there that she does not do - and about a dozen things that she does that are not there - even in the most general way.

This was forced upon me and my supervisor by our V.P. who wanted to align my direct's position with another similar (yet much smaller) position in another Library on Campus.

To make things worse, some of her job duties and tasks are done in that other Library by Professional Librarians with a much higher classification.

{ For those who don't know - in Academic Libraries there is a wide gap in pay and recognition between Technical Assoc. and Professional Librarians in our field. There is an actual position and pay ceiling for folks who don't have their MLS degree}

My Direct - has taken on tasks and duties that are equivalent to at least 3 other of her counterparts in that other Library.  And she is only recognized in her Job Description as equal to the lowest of those counterparts.

--- and paid according to that Job Class.

Every attempt on my part to upgrade her classification and rewrite her job description to be more accurate has been stymied by the V.P.

??  Am I right to feel that she is being treated unjustly ??

?? Should I stop delegating and assigning her more tasks and duties - even if she asks for them ??

 After 5 years of having a fantastic employee who is often "my right hand",

I believe her disappointment and frustration is beginning to show.

I try to show my appreciation - assignment of some fun projects.  Lot's of verbal praise and flexibility with her schedule.

What is the Manager Tools way to handle this ?  

How can I continue to act professionally and ethically in this situation ?

Thanks for any perspective.

Uncle Auberon

manomohan's picture

 To recap, so that I understand the scenario correctly - you have a direct report who is more than willing to take on 3x the responsibilities of her formal job description and you feel that it is unjust to do continue to delegate more tasks to her without an appropriate upgrade of her job code or a promotion. 

In a nutshell, if it continues to serve her purpose - let her "take in" as much additional responsibility. Her purpose - what makes her feel that she is serving a larger cause or keeps her motivated or energizer her each morning could be the fact that she is recognized as an achiever and getting to work on tasks that rubberband her into the next level. Her next level may not be in your organization or under your leadership. It probably is in a different organization or under another leader in a different department. 

As a manager, your role is to recognize her aspirations and enable that within your realm of control. Now, if she aspires to stay within her current role until retirement or until she wins the lottery - perhaps you are right in feeling that she is being treated unjustly. In which case, I would say that you need to make a strong documented case for a pay hike or simply steer work to other co-workers. 


lar12's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Your feelings about the injustice displayed toward your direct may be well intentioned.  My experience is that justice, or fairness, are rarely motivations for change and thus you're not likely to influence your boss.  Also, the satisfaction that more money brings is short-lived.

I believe that Manomohan hit it with, "your role is to recognize her aspirations and enable that within your realm of control".  She may not achieve the pay commensurate with her performance.  She has a choice to make, (1) accept the situation as is and continue to work for the "satisfaction", knowing that her pay is capped, (2) move on to another role, (3) obtain an MLS thereby opening the door for higher pay and recognized increases in responsibility.

As her manager, your responsibility is to set conditions for her success, even if that means that she moves on from her position as your "right hand".

maura's picture
Training Badge

To add on to LAR12's note, do you have any leeway in terms of supporting her further education, so she can work toward the MLS degree?  Maybe that can be a perk you offer based on her taking on so much extra responsibility. 

I know many universities have programs in place where staff are able to take coursework at a reduced cost or free of charge - as a matter of fact my mother finished her undergraduate AND earned a graduate degree under such a program.  As a working mom in a low-paying adminstrative role, she never could have afforded to go back to school if it weren't for that program.  She went from being a front desk receptionist, to being the head of undergraduate admissions and advising.

uncleauberon's picture

 Thank you - each of you for the comments.

Each of you seems to understand the situation pretty well.

I guess it is a waste of my energy being upset at my V.P.   - it is not a large enough injustice to cause me to fall on my sword or resign over.

She does take great satisfaction in what she does.  

My concern is that she has started to see that her efforts don't seemed to be appreciated by any managers and supervisors above me. Yeah - after 5 years she has started to complain.

I know that she is not interested in getting the MLS (just holding on until retirement) - even if she was we don't have any educational program to offer her.  Our school doesn't offer that program and our library doesn't have a scholarship program, etc.

Mike and Mark are right ----  I used to be content to just sit quietly in my position... but now I realize that the only way to change management is to become management and continue to move up in management and do well -with it - lead by example.

My plan, so far is similar to the advice given above.  As an annual goal (we do reviews in the middle of summer)  I am asking her to list all of her training and tasks.. especially those that make her different than her counterparts in the other library.

I am asking her to track more of her outputs etc.    

I am keeping the "Steel cage Deathmatch" PodCast in mind.   I wasn't in the last round of position discussions.  Maybe next year I'll be able to be there.  One of my goals is to build more relationships in the Organization.

I also asked her about supervising others.  (She has experience in that area).  One of the ways to get upgraded here is to take on subordinates.  Perhaps next year I might be able to reorganize reporting structures - (not just for her sake - but for mine as well).


I told her that I can't make any promises, but that I am always looking out for ways I can improve the situation  and I want her to be ready if the opportunity ever arises.

I appreciate your time.

Uncle A.