Dealing with Employees/Grunt Work


I am higher up then a few people that continue to pass me grunt work. This grunt work has nothing to do with my job at all, they simply prefer to not do it.

When I try to talk to my supervisor about this, they either do not respond or do not want to get involved.

The problem is, this cuts into my time and responsibilities.

One task is copying and pasting something from a .doc to an email, to send around.

How do I handle this? When I tried to talk to this person they indicated they would get someone else to assist them, and then sent it right back to me copying their boss and my boss.

I've asked my supervisor twice in the last month to better define the services I am providing for the company - to have something to go by, but they ignore me.

Dear Debbie:

Thank you for your question.  I understand your frustration.  In essence, people to whom you do NOT REPORT in the organizational chain of command delegate their work to you and expect you to do it just because they copy your boss.  

STOP doing this work immediately and face the consequences of taking responsibility for yourself.  You've admitted this "grunt work" cuts into the time you need to peform your assigned duties.  That fact is all you need to STOP ACCEPTING this work.  I don't care who gets copied in the email.  BTW, copying one's boss is NOT de facto proof that your boss has accepted their delegation of work to you.  Just STOP ACCEPTING this work from people who are not part of your chain of command ABOVE you.  

Okay, your next question:  What do I do when these people complain to my boss?  What you do is IGNORE them until your boss (your supervisor or higher up manager) communicates to you that you MUST accept this work.  When that happens, you put in writing all of your OFFICIAL tasks that you must complete each 40 hour work week.  You estimate on this document or spreadsheet HOW MANY HOURS each task takes to complete.  I assume when you've documented all of your weekly tasks this way, the total time required to complete them with "excellence" will total MORE THAN 40 hrs.  Show this schedule to your boss when he/she confronts you about taking on these other "grunt work" tasks.  Ask your boss WHICH of these tasks on your OFFICIAL DUTIES LIST do you want to drop in order to make SOME HOURS available to squeeze in these NEW ASSIGNED DUTIES? Force your boss to CHOOSE his/her priorities for you.

Please let me know how this works for you.

Debbie, I hope this response helped you.  Please feel free to write me again for clarifications of the above.  Also, please visit my website ( to learn more or, better yet, buy my book "Natural Born Manager" there.  

You can also download my FREE managerial tools, including my extremely popular “Manager-Supervisor Rating Tool,” from my BOX folder at (  Finally, in my book, you'll find many helpful ideas similar to those presented here, ideas that will empower you to resolve your most difficult career and work related challenges.  The best of luck to you!


Ed Parr

Dealing with Employees

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Ed Parr


How to organize employees, how to stop infighting, how to handle problem employees, and more. I have 25+ yrs. of managing within a variety of industries and labor environments. I have managed from 50 to 1,000 staff on projects with P&L responsibility ranging from $100K to $30MIL. I currently serve as a management consultant to business and government. I enjoy helping people, especially supervisors and managers, evolve in their careers.


Over 15 years of senior management experience including: systems development, technical help desks, customer service, back-office operations, branch administration and regulatory compliance. Responsibilities have been as large as 1,000 professionals delivering projects with P&L as high as $30 million and assets totaling more than $10 billion. Customer interaction has ranged from customer service reps to CEOs. Greatest accomplishment: Helping employees be all they can be.

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Purchase my book "NATURAL BORN MANAGER" at (get a 10% discount via the Pay-It-Forward link).

A graduate With Distinction of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Ed is a 35-year veteran of organizational leadership. He is a Certified Management Accountant (C.M.A) who has worked in management positions ranging from team leader to senior executive. He has managed as many as 1,000 employees deployed in multi-site facilities and consulted with or managed for both large and small organizations including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, E.D.S., PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Sprint Corporation. In addition, Ed is an 10-year contributor to as a pro bono management expert, advising managers, supervisors, and employees around the globe providing them practical solutions to their everyday workplace challenges. Finally, Ed is an avowed Accountability Manager who strives to learn and educate others about the fundamental truths of management.

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