I’m not sure if this is a first world problem and maybe I’m complaining over nothing but here goes!
I’ve been in my job for about a year and a half now. The hierarchy is based on levels but really, unless you’re top level, the only difference in the way colleagues are treated and treat each other is through different levels of salary. We all treat and respect each other equally.
About a year ago, a colleague (a level above me and the second lowest on the team) who has been there for about 4 years, told me that because I am only “in a support role”, my opinion doesn’t really matter and that it would best if I just did what I was asked without questioning it. This upset at the time but I got over it. She is in no way my boss, we all, as a team, have one boss and generally treat each other the same regardless of pay level. Never once has any other member of the team insinuated that they thought of me in that way. I figured that maybe she was just having a bad day and snapped; she’s human and we all have tough days.
Anyway, she has recently returned from maternity leave and is back to her old ways. She seems to think that it is okay to treat me like her PA but being more comfortable in my role now and within my self, I’ve been able to reflect these “requests” gently back in her direction e.g. she implied that I should set up her new laptop for her, something that she should be able to do for herself. When I suggested that I could show her how to do it, we’d do it together, she wasn’t interested so talked someone else in the office into doing it. Before I arrived, part of her role was to send out meeting invites etc. Now it’s part of my role along with some new niche projects. Since the beginning she’s been asking me “when is the X meeting” or “what time is the Y meeting”...she like the rest of the team has these on her calendar. Now that she’s back, she’s still doing it. I have, again, tactfully, pointed out to there where the dates are. No one else feels the need to ask for details that they already have.
I now feel that she wasn’t just having a bad day when she snapped at me and actually feels that way i.e. that because she is a grade above me , she has the right to treat me like her PA. It is not my role and like I said, everyone else on the team takes autonomy over their own schedules.
How should I deal with this..? Feeling more confident within my role now, I want to nip this in the bud before she starts all over again. I have a few ideas on how to hand these “requests” back to her diplomatically but any other thoughts and suggestions welcome! I’m not sure if she is being lazy or an office mean girl!
The longer it goes on, the longer it will take for you to nip it in the bud. Stand up to her and tell her in 'plain english' where she stands with you and if she doesn't like it, then take it straight to HR because they're paid to sort it. If your job description is in black and white, then you owe it to yourself to do just that while contributing to the team effort because that's what you're paid for. If it doesn't stipulate that you're a PA for one of your colleagues, then so be it.
Diplomacy won't work with a bully and you need to understand that you're busy enough as it is without having to pander to her demands, particularly when she has no status over you. Ask yourself if she will back you if don't get your delegated work completed because of her interference.
If your workplace is worth working at and the company values its employees, then those at the top should sort your issue real quick, as a happy workplace is productive, whereas the opposite is the total opposite. You're either a team member or you're not, and it applies to each and every person who works with you.
Show your new confidence and be assertive. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.