Can You Handle Three Jobs At Your Employer?

“Hey TheFrugalSamurai – can you do this soon as you can, right now?”

Whoa, we’re not in Kansas anymore ladies and gentlemen.

If there was any indication that we are back to the grind, and away from the hedonism of South East Asia – the delivery and intonation of that message from the big boss on Monday morning brought me straight back to Earth.

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Here’s me on Monday.

Mind you, when I woke up – I was tempted to take the greatest of Australian traditions and “pull the sickie” – which essentially means you call your boss on Monday morning to feign a life-threatening illness, obtain a miraculous recovery by Monday afternoon and walk through the doors business as usual on Tuesday morning.

For example:

Monday morning:

Ring ring

“Hey boss, I can’t come in – I contracted Ebola over the weekend.”

“Yeah sure, stay home TheFrugalSamurai – take this pay rise as well you deserve it.”

Tuesday morning:

“I’m back boss, the doctor told me I should be OK as long as I keep my fluids up.”

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What’s the point of all that muscle if you can’t even drink water properly?

But nah, integrity and honour people – what TheFrugalSamurai is all about.

That’s why I went straight through those glass doors on Monday morning with a skip and hop after the epic adventure in SE Asia (read about Bangkok here and Kuala Lumpur here).

Of course, reality set in at exactly two minutes after I sat down – had to change the mindset double time!

Speaking of change, a fair bit has changed at work during my week or so off.

A couple of the junior managers in our team will be leaving end of this week, one planned and one unexpected.

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How do you not plan for a pregn… ohhhhh…!

This means there is a susceptible leadership vacuum between us (the “plebs”) and them (the “supreme overlords”).

But all good stories need a hero, in this case – my colleague from another team has decided to step up to fill this gap.

Initially, it was to fill the position left by the departure of the first manager – the one which we knew about.

Then he was “asked” to fill in the vacancy of the other as well.

So that’s not one, not two but THREE jobs which he will be responsible for in the indefinite short-term – 3 months minimum I reckon.

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Here’s my friend flying through the air and punching rocks for shits and giggles.

All three of these jobs are quite independent of each other and require different skill sets.

I’ve discussed this with him and he mentions that he voluntarily put his hand up for one of the vacant roles because he believes he can do the job expected from him, anticipates the shit-storm ahead and expects the brouhaha which will come.

He’s been a top performer and part of the company’s “emerging leaders” program, so it does make sense for him to put his hand up considering his ambition is to head into a management role.

So one extra job, fair enough – but two?

What’d he think about that?

“Just have to do it”.

What a boss.

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This is him 3 months into it…

I can understand where he’s coming from – senior management dangled a BIG carrot in front of him. If he can do not two but THREE jobs well, then surely he’d be a stickler for one of the two management roles right?

Then again, there’s no guarantees in life – the cynical view would be that he is being used and abused BIG time by the higher ups.

Ah, but you’re forgetting the invaluable skills and experience he will gain from this period – surely juggling three jobs, you’ll learn and grow faster both personally and professionally?

Of course of course, but what about the time commitment and opportunity cost of that time with your other endeavours, with family, with friends, on yourself?

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Opportunity Cost.

Hm, you’re right – but what if he does amazingly at ALL three jobs? He’d make a name for himself surely? Think about the promotion, the pay-rise, the recognition!

Yes, but what if he fails, wouldn’t it backfire?

So many points of view, the Yin, the Yang, the good, the bad, the ugly.

BUT inherently, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to go about this.

You see, if you are a career driven, mind focused, moon rocket here we go kind of individual AND an opportunity like this presented itself where you can blaze your name throughout the division in a trail of glory  – the answer is evident.

But if you’re not that kind of guy, if you’re an ordinary guy with nothing to lose kind of guy – then… then… then I don’t think you would have been selected to step up in the first place.

There are so many ways we all approach our careers, some take the fast route, some take the risky route, some take the slow and steady route, others never even take a route – everyone’s different in their own way.

I’m sure there are just as many of you in support of his decision as there are against.

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“Which road should I ta… ah fuck it, I’ll walk”

As for my own views?

I think at the end of a long, hard day at the 9 to 5, when nothing went right from the moment you split that coffee on your shirt to sticking out in heavy peak hour traffic, I think that after all that and you can come home to a loving partner, laughing children and a deep satisfaction that you’ve not cheated your employer out of a single dollar – then you’ve made the right choice.

I’m curious to hear what you would do if you were my friend at work – what would your choice be?

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Three months later… he didn’t land either of the management positions, not because he was inept or his attitude was lacking, but strangely senior management decided to hire external. Suffice to say that he is now looking to make a move elsewhere.


  • Innocent Bystander

    Perfect case of dangling the carrot. Emerging leadership program? BS. When push comes to shove, senior management will try to save themselves first. Future promotions you say? Sure, you wanna have some runs on the board but there are no guarantees in the corporate world, often the real winners are guys who stand on the side of the road having a ciggy with his senior manager or a few bevvies at the pub down the road.

    Of course, there are exceptions to everything but put it this way – in a give and take scenario, when you give outweighs much more than take, then you will starting to feel resentment towards management. Like poker, play the player, not the hand.

    • The Frugal Samurai

      very true – I feel like that my friend may be over-used here, but if he is conscious of this yet willing to be “used” then it’s up to him right? Although you’re right with resentment towards management, why there is such a disconnect in working “for the man” for a lot of people.

  • Paulie

    Been there and done that, the reality is that the dangling carrot is more often the case than an actual “opportunity to prove yourself” and some dude that needs to just do the job. Office politics remain just as that, sure you need to be exception at what you do, but all things being equal promotion will more likely to “rightfully” land at the guy who senior management likes more (or suits whatever agenda they are pursuing)

    • The Frugal Samurai

      This is true – management wants to work with people they like, especially if they are their underlings – I’m curious as to your experiences, you mention “been there, dont that”, what happened? Did you get that promotion or was it just a carrot swinging in the breeze?

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