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Human Resources/Drastic change in job duties


I work in CA at a small field office of 11 employees for a large engineering firm based in the Midwest. Our company recently completed a comprehensive job description/duties survey and compensation analysis, the result of which thus far has only been a to update a few titles. During the period of time the surveys were being conducted, the VP for our region retired and a new VP was hired. To make a long story short, the new VP requires Executive Assistant (EA) type of help, which I was not hired or trained to do.I was hired as an office Operations Assistant and have no background in EA. Bottom line is that I'm now being told by my regional Operations Manager that EA duties are a part of the job, or at least a reasonable expectation (this is what he was told by our HR Director), and that other staff in my position (and in the Ops Manager position) at our other field offices have traditionally had these duties as part of their role - which was news to both of us. I understand not everything can be listed in a job description and that I should have some flexibility, but to go from Operations to EA is a real shock to me after four years on the job. On top of that I'm not being officially relieved of my regular duties, but will be expected to ask for help from the Ops Manager if I can't complete them. I've already been told I will not have a new job title or raise to go along with these new duties. I have requested a teleconference with our HR Director to make sure we are both clear on what I'm being asked to take on, but she hasn't replied to my request yet. Is there anything specific that you recommend I should ask our HR? Is it legal for my employer to drastically change my job duties like this? If I am not good at my new duties, do I have any recourse if I'm let go, or quit? Am I owed any training or is that wishful thinking? I'm very confused and upset by the situation, but I also can't afford to lose my job.


Change can sometimes throw a wrench into things.   No doubt !   I could tell you to go read the short executive book or watch the video  "Who Moved my Cheese" .  It may seem goofy to watch this, and don't be offended that I suggested it,  but please endure###  it is powerful medicine in only 12 short minutes#   It is animated, so that is nice too   :#

I hope you see I offered this as a real lesson on change.  It is about change, adapting, being reactive, proactive and keeping your eyes open for the writing on the wall...  YOU are in charge of this situation, not the VP.   Is your cheese moved?  What will you do about it ?

So, if you got knocked down the ladder a few rungs maybe you need to find new Cheese-    a new job...   

In short,  the company or the new boss could mandate #order you# and others  up onto the roof and replace the large air conditioning unit.   Although this is very unlikely since you have no idea what to do, no tools and no experience, it is surely something the Company and the VP has EVERY RIGHT  to ask you to do-- and expect it to be done.    Job descriptions are a guide, generally-  not a contract.   Anything can change.   

In my opinion,  employees have day to day skills and sometimes things happen and now employees might find they are doing more work for less, or less work for more and there may be no rhyme or reason.  Not every employee where you work has the same workload, right?  So, nothing is really equal despite what people aspire for.    Life, changes and is unpredictable by nature.    It would be fine if you decided to absorb all the new duties and execute them perfectly with no waves.  Maybe this is not realistic.   If your job changes for the best or worse, it is up to you to decide if the changes can be dealt with, adapted to or if they are too extreme, then something has to give-- either you, or the company.  My money is going on the Company...      Likely there are 10 people NOW who would love to interview for your NEW job at a 10%  pay cut.    So, how important is it to you ?

I understand you achieved a lot in your position, and being asked to go back and make copies, can make you want to scream.   However,  if this  is the new reality, you have few choices.  Accept it,  try to change it, or move on.     You can only change so much.

So,  don't  "lose"  your job by failing.  Maybe it is appropriate to proactively look for a different job and keep growing instead of picking up copying duties.  Maybe in another job you will have your own EA  !

If you stay, and "fail",  then you get laid off for not working up to speed, you would likely be eligible for unemployment.  However it seems you would be better suited to look for new work,  quietly interview, find a good job, give a two or three week notice to resign then begin a new chapter.  It might be better or worse too !!!  You need to always test the marketplace for your skills and maybe accept a new job.     You say you like it there where you are until this situation,  but will you like it there in 6 months or a year ?   

Your choice.  Do you take a chance to put your future in your OWN hands, or do you stay and tough it out having lunch in Cheese Room C for another year with no guarantees ??     There are NO guarantees...    I hope this helps somehow.

Brian Phillips
Harvis Human Resource Services and Consulting

Human Resources

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Brian Phillips


Foreign and US university students -*PLEASE*- DO NOT waste your time asking for my opinions, comments or analysis of your homework questions. Homework questions are not answered and are rejected. I am happy to help answer questions asked by employees and employers regarding United States based state and Federal wage and hour, OT, Fair labor standards, FMLA, COBRA, Recruiting, Interviewing techniques, employee manuals, discipline, terminations/quits, unemployment, HRIS rollout, Employee Leasing or Staffing company cost analysis, day to day scenarios, work situations and more. Essentially a well rounded HR generalist who operates Harvis, Inc., a human resource consulting and service business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania "NEPA".


At Harvis, Inc., we provide Human Resource products, services and advice to small businesses that may not have the time or resources to hire a full time HR department. For larger companies with HR managers in place, we compliment their expertise to help with time consuming or time sensitive projects like updating policy manuals, screening and interviewing and more. We make workplaces better by becoming that 1/2 person they need to help handle HR responsibilities on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Formerly responsible for all Human Resource activity for a staffing agency with 2,500 annual employees as well as an employee leasing / PEO business with 1,500 annual employees. Designed and implemented the HR structure to support hundreds of clients in excess of $ 500 million in payroll volume over career in Human Resources.

* President 2006- Harvis Inc. HR Services * President 2010-13 Business Association of the Greater Shickshinny Area - Shickshinny PA * President 2013- ShickshinnyForward Not for Profit Community Long Term Revitalization Organization and former member of varios Chambers of Commerce and HR Taskforce, former President of NBC Business Club 2 years

Bloomsburg University - 1993 BS Marketing, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania and Luzerne County Community College - 1991 Business Administration, Nanticoke Pennsylvania

Awards and Honors
* Better than average - 20/10 vision * Bestowed with an occasional "Thank You" from clients and their employees.

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