Q: My job title is office assistant, but I am relied on to provide information for every major decision and to solve problems that arise. I have worked for this nonprofit organization for five years. The Board of Directors selected a woman to start and head the agency, but she is incapable of making sensible decisions in any area; she is rigid, stern and moody. To add to this, she lacks interpersonal and management skills, knowledge in marketing and technology, research ability for smart purchasing, and common sense time management — everything needed to run an office, much less an organization. She is clueless and unwilling to learn.
The only reason she was given the position that because she very close to one of the top board members. The worst part is that she's been the director for around 15 years. It started with just her in a small office and over that time, has grown to only five people. The agency's success and usefulness has fallen so low and so far behind in relevancy that the board told her it might be closed.
I've taken on responsibilities of an office manager without title or pay, which I accepted because no one else there could do it and I wanted to see the agency succeed. I have an entrepreneurial personality, numerous soft and hard skills and strong work ethics. I work beyond my hours with no paid overtime, even though I'm an hourly employee. When I see people floundering in a particular task, I take the initiative to offer to help and to do the work, turning it over to that person when I finish. The employees always thank me, but when I do the same for the director so she could be equipped to make good decisions, she doesn't know what to do with the information and operates in a pattern of defeat. We've also can't foresee what her mood will be day to day, and that determines the assignments. She dooms the agency with each one of her illogical and overall poor decisions.
The agency serves a good cause for a specific population of disabled adults. We would hate to see it fail and close just because the director is completely unqualified. The Board of Directors recently told her she has to turn around the agency or funding will be cut. After receiving that information, she marched into my office to say that if she has to cut back on employees, she would choose to let me go. I am her most competent employee, and the others know that. I've spent the day in shock at yet another major mistake she will make to doom the agency. Should I talk to her?
A: The truth sometimes hurts, but it must be said. If you like talking to a wall, talk to your director. Her total lack of business acumen and skills has run the agency into near oblivion, and you can't change her. Think of the quote, "Insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different outcome."
It sounds like you are drowning in low self-esteem to have worked under these conditions for five years. Although you're relied on for the many tasks, you seem glad to do it without gratitude, recognition and compensation. This is a serious problem, not for the agency, but for you, and one that has likely followed you in your jobs and in your personal life.
Create a list of every major and minor task you've handled in your job, including all assignments (accomplishments) that updated, improved and added relevancy to the agency's services and purpose. Give the list to an experienced professional so he or she can write your resume and cover letter, knowing what to include and omit from it. A resume should present an accurate and positive picture of your abilities, achievements, and all you could contribute to an organization. If you're committed to this agency's cause and want to be involved in its turnaround, send your resume and cover letter, including ideas for its future to each board member. Even if you don't need money, you deserve to be recognized for your work.
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