there’s nothing I can do about my nightmare workload … right? — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

I wrote in about getting through a staffing crisis after both my coworkers quit right when one of my company’s two owners went on maternity leave. I wanted to make sure that my “this is awful but that’s what all the extra money is for” outlook wasn’t distracting me from anything else the remaining owner could potentially do to help.

My letter was posted in March but I wrote it in January, during what was definitely the worst few weeks of the entire stretch. The owner came back in early February, and I was unsure of how that would go — she can be very exacting, and previously most conversations related to my work went through my supervisor. Turns out it was great! Her number one priority was figuring out what she could to do help me out and what she could take off my plate. By the time my letter went up, things were already much, much better than they’d been in a long time.

The owners were grateful I’d kept things running significantly better than they’d hoped. That was great to hear but also concerning, particularly since at the same time, we were working on two transitions to streamline the business. My biggest concern was that between the “that wasn’t so bad (for us)” relief and the efficiency gains from the transitions, they’d decide maybe we were actually fine with the one new hire we made and there wasn’t any need for another. But when we sat down for a post-maternity-leave state of the union, I was clear that I was only happy if the hiring plan was unchanged, and our next new hire is starting in a couple of weeks.

As things stand now, my workload and stress level are significantly lower than they were even before everyone started quitting, which is great considering the multiple raises I’ve gotten. I can basically do no wrong in the owners’ eyes and they’re really invested in my happiness and my growth in the company. So in theory, when it comes to my self-imposed “quit if it’s not fixed by July” deadline, there should be nothing to worry about.

In practice, I don’t think the owners have learned any lessons about the importance of staff retention, and I’m really unhappy with how our first new hire (who’s now five months in) is being treated. I get all the credit for getting the company through this mess and endless grace for any balls I’ve dropped in the process. There’s no recognition of the fact that our new hire was a huge help and that I couldn’t have done this without her, or that she was a great sport about being hired into a complete mess of a situation, with only me to guide her when I barely had the time or the brainpower for it. She’s taken on so much and made my job so much easier, and the owners extend zero appreciation for that and make her miserable holding her to a standard that’s massively unfair given how haphazard her training has been. My old supervisor used to say she was shielding us from a lot, and I took it with a grain of salt, but now I get what she meant.

So that’s where I’m going to be spending my capital for now. Most of it is that I think my coworker deserves better, but it’s also because if she quits or gets fired, I’m going to quit rather than take on the extra work. I’m gathering my thoughts right now and planning to meet with the owners soon to make it clear that if history repeats, I’m not sticking around to bail them out. I guess we’ll see how that goes, but no matter what I should have a happy update later this year — either I’ll be able to report that they’ve righted the ship, or I’ll be out of there.

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