I received this question from someone concerned about the unpleasant daily chore her manager had assigned to her.
I graduated from college a year ago and finally got a job in my field (Accounting). I enjoy my job and my manager is a pleasant woman, but she asks me to get her coffee on a regular basis. I avoided taking bartending and waitressing jobs so I could get a job in my field and avoid menial work. Besides, it’s 2015. Shouldn’t managers get their own coffee now? I asked my friends and none of them have a manager asking them to do this. How do I tell her no without getting on her bad side?
Coffee isn’t just coffee. It can offer a multitude of things to those who are coffee drinkers. A chance to get energized for the day. A chance to make small talk. A chance to catch up with co-workers. A chance to warm up on a cold day. The necessary elixir to get the day started.
Whether it’s 2015 or 1955, managers like to have their coffee in the morning. With all the demands put on them, this small pleasure helps give them the power to prepare for the day. That being said, I understand your concern of not wanting this task to turn into a daily occurrence.
Next time she asks for coffee, say to her, “Why don’t you walk with me to the coffee machine/Starbucks/wherever you get coffee, because I want to chat with you?” This will allow you to build rapport with her and help her get to know you better. You can discuss your work, goals, and innovative ideas to help the department. Soon, your co-workers will see how your one-on-one informal chats are helping you get a leg up and will be clamoring for their own coffee runs.
If she’s the type who doesn’t want to talk to anyone before her morning coffee, the problem will take care of itself, and she’ll soon be getting her own coffee.
As silly as it may sound, it’s nice that you’re facing this coffee conundrum at your level as this is only the first in a long line of situations that will come up in your career that call for your ingenuity. Handling it will give you practice in using your creativity to turn a potentially negative task into a positive one.
One more thing. I commend you getting a job in your field, but unfortunately, there’s no first job where you can completely avoid menial, tedious work.