In our line of business of servicing administrative professionals in their professional development needs we are often asked somewhat personal questions from the assistants or the executives we work with. What exactly is it okay for me to ask my assistant to do? When my boss asks me to do personal errands I question whether that is okay or not, is it okay? Recently we received a question from a concerned reader. Her leader asks her on a continual basis to wash dishes – it’s apparently become an expectation. Here is Joan’s take on the task. What would you do?
Re: Washing dishes at work. It depends on the reason why your boss has asked you to wash the dishes. In other words, do you tend to have visitors come to your area and there is no dishwasher in the area so you need to wash the dishes by hand? If this must be done and there is no one else to wash them, then it is part of your unwritten duties.
If it is more of a “personal” thing, then you might want to speak to your executive and let him know that you are uncomfortable doing this chore.
It’s always about why you are being asked something. And how you are being asked—tone of voice, etc. Is it a demand or a request?
Years and years ago, when I worked for the CEO of a big bank in Tennessee, I had to fill and empty the small dishwasher in our kitchenette. We often had visitors and served snacks or beverages. I was the only assistant in the area and I had to do that job.
It may not be your favorite task and your time and talents may be best utilized elsewhere, which is another conversation. Bottom line is, it really depends on why this leader is asking this of you and how they are going about requesting it.
Thanks for writing and keep your questions coming in. Joan is always happy to answer you!