Stop Trying to Be the Office Superhero

Human ResourceAdvice for navigating the modern workplace. Send your career-related questions to humanresource@lifehacker.com.  You’ve become the “go-to” person in your office for a slew of tasks that nobody else can (or will) do. Good news: You feel indispensable. Bad news: You can basically never take a vacation. Here’s how to get out of this mess—or, better…

Stop Trying to Be the Office Superhero

Human ResourceAdvice for navigating the modern workplace. Send your career-related questions to humanresource@lifehacker.com.  You’ve become the “go-to” person in your office for a slew of tasks that nobody else can (or will) do. Good news: You feel indispensable. Bad news: You can basically never take a vacation. Here’s how to get out of this mess—or, better yet, avoid it in the first place. Dear Human Resource,How do you avoid being/becoming the go-to-guy (or girl) for every complicated task that no one else wants (or is able) to do?I started at my current (nonprofit) organization a few years ago as an administrative assistant. Through a process of layoffs, resignations, and reorganizations, I now wear many hats… office manager, tech support, HR department, webmaster, building/facilities liaison, event manager, landlord/coordinator to outside renters and more. Every time my job description is rewritten, more responsibilities are added. After eight months of meetings, reviews, arguments and negotiations, I finally began receiving a fair wage and was allowed to hire an administrative assistant. Still, the phrase “Dana Can Do It!” has practically become the organization’s motto. (Dana is not my real name, but you get the idea.) It’s nice to be needed; being indispensable is always good for job security. On the other hand, I have not been able to take a vacation in over two years, being the only one on staff who can complete certain tasks, which must be done from week to week. Lately, as I approached burnout, I have begun to politely refuse tasks that are outside the range of my job description. I ended up having a kind of mini-nervous breakdown. A co-manager and supervisor has reprimanded me for my “bad attitude,” and for supposedly taking too many sick days. (I am still within my allotted number of paid days off for the year). I am investigating my options, but meanwhile am gradually teaching my assistant the basics of my job so that the office would not grind to a halt without me, and I’m still saying “no” to new tasks when they could be delegated. But I worry about losing my “indispensable” status. Where is the middle ground? What can I do to improve the situation? I’m also interested in any advice you might have for managers that see this sort of th
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