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Bored? Underpaid? How to get to the next level



Q: My boss was out of town for 10 days and I stepped up to do his job. People kept telling me I did it better than he did! He’s back now and I’m back to doing my regular old job. I’m bored out of my mind and he gets paid more than me, but I can do his job easily! I did his job and mine when he was out and I still aced it. Can I replace him?

A: Congrats for stepping up to the plate and having your boss trust your capabilities. It sounds like it was a significant boost in confidence along with the reinforcing praise you received.

Back to your question: Can you replace him? If he’s not leaving, then the answer is — to put it bluntly — no. You can, however, do a few things to position yourself for the next level. Are there other opportunities internally at that level that you can pursue? Is your department potentially expanding, where a new role can be created? You can tap into internal recommendations for your hard work. More importantly though, rather than waiting for a position that may or may not be available in the near future, immediately start looking for a new job externally.

There’s still a lot of movement on the job front, and companies are vying for top talent. Update your resume including skills, experiences and responsibilities that you recently leaned into during his absence.

Know your worth. While you’re looking for a new job, determine a salary based on market research that is equitable with what you bring to the table. All of this information is powerful and can propel you to that next level.

It may feel discouraging in your role to go back to what you were doing and not have the opportunity to simply snap your fingers and replace your boss (ah, if only it were that easy), so focus on what you can control: your actions, behavior, mindset and momentum to pursue opportunities in alignment with your goals.

Q: My direct report cheated. Let me explain: She said she was very sick with COVID-19, but a colleague sent me screenshots of a recent barbecue she attended while she was out of the office supposedly recovering (photos from neighbors were on Instagram). What should I do? I should mention she’s an hourly contractor so she’s not on benefits and doesn’t get a W-2.

A: Without knowing the timing of when the photo was taken, although it was supposedly when she was out, talk to her. But talk to HR first in case they want to be present and if they have company guidelines for you.

Instead of approaching it as an accusation, you may want to ask how she’s feeling, then mention the photo and see what she says. Since she’s not a full-time employee with paid sick time, the situation is altered since she doesn’t get paid for hours she doesn’t work.

It comes down to integrity and trust issues — can they be repaired? (If she was an employee, there are a few things to consider, like giving her a warning though it’s not necessarily grounds for a performance improvement plan because it’s not directly related to her work. But, to me, it’s bigger: It’s all about ethics. But again, always consult with your HR department for matters like these.)

— Tribune News Service



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