Finally, you’re one of the few back at work, keen to get busy and productive.
Then the unexpected happens; your boss starts asking you to do your absent colleagues’ tasks. At first that seems OK – you know and understand their jobs – but now you are being asked to take on new responsibilities!
Many are feeling the same way. It is not only OK to stop, reflect, and find a resourceful way to manage the overload with your boss, it’s essential. When you experience stress from overload there is a higher risk of dropping the all-important ’ball’.
It is important to ask your boss for guidance. Start by making a full list of your tasks so that together you can set REALISTIC delivery dates. At this point, with the overload now apparent, you can re-prioritise and even find better ways to delegate. More than ever at this time you will want to communicate your willingness, but also be clear about your capacity. Remember – you are not alone.
You could find that communicating in such a forthright way might just feel a little too uncomfortable. Of course such a concern probably has something to do with our human hardwiring, namely, the desire to be agreeable. This is a natural and age-old response aimed at ensuring acceptance and being cared for by the tribe. Being ostracized in times past was seen as something of a death warrant. We had to be ‘included’ to survive. So even today we still experience the social legacy of this conditioning and so typically find it easier to behave in a way intended to gain acceptance and approval.
Just remember, now we are talking about a different kind of ‘survival’. When you fall into the habit of saying ‘yes’ all the time, you might inadvertently ‘disrespect’ those tasks you already have. Since you can’t stretch time, you will simply have to share available time among all your other tasks. And likely you’ll find it difficult to give any of them the full attention they require.
In short, by proactively and responsibly addressing the problem of work overload, you may even gain the recognition you want. So here are some useful tips to keep in mind when preparing for the conversation:
Maintain a positive tone
Focus on the theme of quality and accuracy
Provide specific examples of the overload – briefly
Offer possible solutions
Ask for assistance
Be clear on the type of help you need
Agree on realistic timelines (don’t be tempted to underestimate the time required to do each job)
Breathe deeply, be bold, be brave – go book that meeting time.