ASK HR: My boss no longer assigns me any responsibilities

Thursday February 7 2019

quarter life crisis, stressed man

I report to work every morning but I do nothing. Besides resigning, how do I deal with such a situation? PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Q. Three months ago, my boss stopped assigning me duties, transferring all my roles to a new employee, a woman, in my department. I cannot even begin to explain how deflated I felt. Worse, he did not offer an explanation for his actions. I report to work every morning but I do nothing. Besides resigning, how do I deal with such a situation?

I am very sorry to hear of your current predicament and the challenging work environment you have to put up with.

I suggest that you approach your boss to find out why he is not assigning you any responsibilities. Let him know that you find it unprofessional staying idle during your employer’s paid time.

His actions suggest that you are unfit to perform your duties, therefore it is important to find out why he thinks you cannot fulfill your mandate at work.

Insist on an explanation because if you don't get one, you will continue having a difficult time at work. That said, more often than not, employees assume that they are doing a good job yet their line manager thinks otherwise. This can be a source of conflict.

When you approach your boss, be cordial during the discussion and try not to be emotional - do not allow your frustration to make you confrontational or aggressive because this will not have a positive outcome.

If you fail to reach an amicable agreement with your boss, consider escalating the matter to your HR department.

Before taking this step, however, ensure that you have all your facts right. You also need to be open-minded about the possibility of a transfer to another department.

As HR is resolving your issue with your boss, my advice would be that you either offer to assist your colleagues with their duties, or apply for leave.

You mentioned that the new employee is a woman. I would like to caution you to be very wary of the discussions you have in the office with your colleagues.

Before you make any statement regarding the matter, be sure that you can readily repeat the statement and be able to substantiate it.

In a situation such as yours, there are likely to be rumours that perhaps the boss has a questionable relationship with the employee he is seen to favour. Unless you have proof of this, don’t be the one to spread this rumour or fan it.

Hearsay is dangerous, and I need not tell you that office gossip can adversely affect your career.
That out of the way, a toxic work environment can affect your peace of mind, self-esteem and general wellbeing. Evaluate the situation after assessing the feedback from HR and make the decision which is most suitable given your circumstances.


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