ASK POLLY AKA KIM: HOW CAN I ESCAPE WORKPLACE DOORMAT-DOM?
On to another ASK POLLY aka ASK KIM POSSIBLE DANG (I am trying to run with this without being sued by Disney).
I have a question to ask, and I’m hoping you can shed some insight into my problem as it’s getting progressively worse.
I’m a graphic designer for a large-ish corporation and as the company grows and as my department is becoming more and more known to the organization, I’ve been noticing that the conditions of my projects are becoming increasingly tough: extremely short turnarounds, huge projects, etc. and being the only designer, I am really beginning to feel it. Plus, I’m paid hourly, and most of the time, I have to leave after eight hours or I’m chased away by Payroll and HR. I talked to my supervisor about this, and she simply told me that it’s bad to say “no” to anybody and she will not turn down a project that any other department requests of me.
Recently, however, I was asked to take over a project that is working far above and outside my job duties (I’m here to “create GRAPHICS for print and multimedia purposes”). This project would entail creating a whole new company intranet portal in which each of 10+ departments would get their own homepage, a company landing page, automated forms, custom designs for each, and so on, in an allotment of two weeks. This is way beyond anything I know how to do (I could certainly learn but it would take months as opposed to two weeks on top of recurring projects that need released monthly). I, again, talked to my manager about this, and her response was, “I promised the execs that we would have this done at the end of March, so once these three projects are done, you will have a couple weeks to complete it, and there’s really nothing I can do now.”
I’m feeling a bit stuck/taken advantage of, since I’m being paid to be a graphic designer, not a web developer (a difference of $20-$30k per year) As of recently, my boss has a new boss, and as the threat of losing power and our job duties shifting seems to be kicking everything into overdrive, she is now pressuring me even more and throwing more projects onto my plate during my alleged two-week allotment, and I remain the only designer here.
I would really appreciate your advice on the matter! I’ve been making attempts to plead my case, as you’ve read, but they seem to be falling upon deaf ears and I’m not so sure what my next steps should be.
Thanks so much!
Overworked And Under-appreciated
If you are the only graphic design employee under your boss who suddenly is stricken by a new boss of her own, that means you have leverage. A lot of it. A boss under a boss with one key employee is not in a lot of positions to over work their said key employee.
Currently I am working with two website design and development companies and as a client, I know how the workload can fluctuate and intensify based on demands of either large overhauls or many minute changes. Whether your immediate boss can admit to this or not, you two are in this boat together being championed and judged by the ring leader who is your boss’s boss. A team needs to be formed with cooperative, balanced work in order to get the job done together or in this case it seems as if most of the work is being off-loaded to you in order to have a scapegoat if the boat ever sinks.
You can ask your immediate boss to work with you and be realistic or as the only graphic designer employee, there is no advantage to being pushed to the brink of your workload where your performance will go from extreme excellence to a level of mediocrity both of you will be uncomfortable with and this will ultimately reflect poorly on your boss since she is responsible for you.
If your immediate boss continues to be unreasonable and turn a blind eye to your situation, there is a way to prevent yourself from going downhill.
That is to OUTSOURCE.
If your quality will diminish anyway due to the intensity of your workload and it will be impossible to deliver the same excellence – might as well get help finishing your projects.
Developers in the states are FOR SURE paid more than developers in other countries. Since you are going from graphic designer into web development mode – hire a web development team. Some work for less than $10/hour, packaged. Some work for about the same, some are more expensive.
I am going to assume you are paid quite adequately enough to afford at least a mid-tier team.
I highly recommend seeking out a developer on odesk.com or elance.com. 99designs can only get you so far. You need a dedicated team to help you accomplish your ever multiplying tasks. Create a Skype because that is their first means of communication and hire a team after a day of interviews. It is important you do not lag with this. They are FAST, they are people who have 5+, 10+ years of hard coding experience, they are available to you to help you get through this!
I am talking from experience here. Do it, get it done, it works, don’t lag.
Use SaaS companies such as redbooth.com or github.com to organize their tasks and have them be accountable to deadlines. Whatever your boss wants you to do can be quickly relayed to them.
Would you trust them to keep your information proprietary?
I trust them with everything. Just like your client trusts your company with everything. Because you need everything – all types of developer access – in order to create a website for them. And your developers will need everything in order for them to create the website for you.
Even if it is not about web development, even if it is simply design tweaks, it is better if you have help than to go about it alone GIVEN THAT YOUR CONFRONTATION WITH YOUR BOSS FAILS.
This is just practical advice coming from someone who cannot work with a boss. Who is doing quite okay directing web development teams and who knows what works when it comes to this particular situation in terms of outsourcing.
You have so much leverage that I don’t really believe you need to resort to getting hired help. But in the face of ignorance, of office politics, of being screwed over by someone who doesn’t know how to delegate effectively and failing at her job as a boss in keeping her employee (you) happy – this is the only way you won’t go down in flames. The only way where your boss’s plan of using you as potential scapegoat will fail.
I can feel you have it in you – enough reasons for the confrontation, enough ammo for your demands that you will ask for what you want and get it. Because from your inner soul you feel how strongly you deserve a break. How this house of cards will come tumbling down if something doesn’t change. Sometimes it does take a little hyping up to ask for what’s right. But once you ask for it, you will realize how much they are willing to give – then you can continue to ask for more.