“A round of golf is the ideal antidote to stress.”
~ Bruce Forsyth ~
Client Jordan Asks: My job has become overwhelming. My work load keeps increasing, and I find myself working long hours to get everything done. How can I take control of the situation and get my life back?
Coach Joel Answers: It’s not uncommon for job responsibilities to grow over time, especially when economic conditions prevent the hiring of additional help. Instead of adding employees, organizations expect individual employees to take on more and more responsibilities. However, there is a limit to how much one person can do. You must learn to create boundaries, or you will become overwhelmed by the additional work.
Here are a few ways you can reduce both your work load and your stress levels.
Focus on what’s most important and make sure high priority work gets done first. Also, make sure your priorities are consistent with those of your supervisor.
2. Schedule your day around those priorities.
Write down your to-do list and don’t get distracted. If that means not answering your phone or checking emails just once or twice each day, so be it.
3. Learn to say no.
There’s a fine line between being a cooperative “team player” and someone who is abused by taking on work that should be done by others or, perhaps, not even at all. Don’t be afraid to say no to projects that are unnecessary or unimportant. Sticking to your priorities and having a well-defined job description can help.
4. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
If someone asks you to do an extra assignment, say, “I’d be glad to it if you can get someone else to take the so-and-so project” or “Yes, I’ll take that on, but only if we push back the deadline several weeks.”
5. Dare to delegate.
Is there a task that could be done more quickly or efficiently by a coworker?Learning to delegate effectively will help you reduce your workload.
6. Set boundaries (and stick to them).
For example, make it a point to never work through lunch or to eat at your desk or take work home over the weekend. Setting boundaries will help you maintain a work/life balance that provides you enjoyment, peace and fulfillment in all aspects of your life.
7. Take advantage of time management training.
If your company doesn’t offer it, look online or check out your local library. Learning to manage time more effectively and get more organized will help you get more work done in less time.
8. Get the tools you need to be more efficient.
Are there tools or software programs available that can make you more efficient and thereby reduce your workload and stress?
9. Brainstorm with team members.
If you’re overworked, chances are your coworkers are feeling in over their heads, too. Take some time to share ideas about how to cope, share the workload or be more efficient. But, stay positive! Don’t let your brainstorming session turn into a woe-is-me pity party.
10. Ask for help.
If you’re feeling stressed or depressed about your workload then you owe it to yourself and your supervisor to voice your concerns. Don’t suffer in silence and let the pressure affect your work performance and relationships with those you care about at home. If your boss isn’t receptive, look for a mentor, colleague or trusted friend who can serve as a sounding board and help you find solutions.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce your stress is to learn how to get more done in less time. Joel’s book, Time Management Mastery, will help you prioritize and schedule your work more effectively. Get your copy today!
Talkback: Have you been forced to take on more work? What are you doing to manage the extra demands on your schedule? What other actions could you take to reclaim control of your workload?
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“There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.”
~ George Shinn ~
Client Dena Asks: In their book, The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, James Citrin and Richard Smith concluded that, “People with extraordinary careers do not claw their way to the top, they are carried there.”Where can I get the support I need to help me reach my career goals?
Coach Joel Answers: Support from others is a valuable commodity in any situation, but it’s a necessity when you navigate the corporate landscape. Without it, you risk being stuck in your current position indefinitely, overlooked for promotion and passed by others who are well connected and better supported.
How can you find others to help “carry” you?
Cultivate and take advantage of these five key resources:
Supporters show an interest in you and your career and invest the time to explain what it takes to advance within the company and get the job you want. They help you get ahead by providing resources, insights and knowledge. They also serve as role models for top-notch executive behavior and presence. Supporters can provide feedback, criteria and expectations to help guide you along a clear path toward success.
A confidant is someone with whom you are comfortable disclosing information about your experiences at work. Because these discussions often involve fears, frustrations and your innermost doubts and concerns, a confidant must be completely trustworthy. This kind of trust takes time to develop, but it starts with taking risks and being willing to share. Confidants are there to listen, to provide honest feedback and to support you as you face major challenges.
Like a supporter, a mentor provides specific information and guidance to help you improve your performance and productivity. You will, however, have a closer relationship with a mentor. This individual will take a personal interest in your career and play a more active role in helping you meet your goals for advancement and professional success. To ensure your mentor is unbiased, it’s helpful if he or she comes from a different department.
The difference between mentors and advocates is a matter of degree. Both can provide feedback, information and encouragement. However, a mentor will not necessarily get directly involved in promoting your career. Advocates, on the other hand, will actively champion your cause to their peers (and even supervisors) in the company. Advocates encourage your growth and challenge you to reach higher levels. They know your key accomplishments and are acutely aware of your potential for future success. Armed with this information, advocates campaign on your behalf, create visibility with senior management and directly assist you in advancing up the organization.
5. Executive Coaches
In addition to supporters, mentors and advocates, another effective source of support is the executive coach. Executive coaches are to business professionals what master musicians are to aspiring performers: they guide the thriving careers of their clients to help them reach the peak of their abilities. Executive coaches have the expertise, techniques and tools to assist you in achieving what you most want in half the time. They provide honest and objective third party feedback and help you develop the skills and mindset you need to move beyond limitations, resistance and self-doubt.
They can help carry you to the top.
The obvious goal in seeking supporters, mentors, and advocates is to secure help with professional development and future promotions. But the underlying objective is to form alliances with those peers and superiors who want the best for you. In the process, they will encourage your growth and challenge you to reach higher levels within the company.
Are you building a support team to help you get ahead at work? Start by hiring a top-notch executive coach. Joel Garfinkle can create a cusomized executive coaching program that is tailored to helping you reach your goals.
Talkback: Have you started building your support team? Who will help carry you to the top?
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“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~
Client Jonathan Asks: Several of my co-workers like to spread stories without checking to make sure they are true. Recently, someone shared an inaccurate and favorable story about me. What can I do to mitigate the damage?
Coach Joel Answers: Everyone is susceptible to gossip stories at work. But what if the stories are about you? And, even more disturbing, what if they are erroneous and could harm your reputation? Chances are, this won’t happen to you. But, if it does, it’s important to take action.
Once unfavorable stories get created they often get cemented in as a permanent perspective of who you are. This perception becomes their reality and everything else you do reinforces how others see you.
You can have 50 examples of trustworthiness and one false representation and this one malicious example undermines everything else.
During your constant interactions at work it’s possible that things you do might get misinterpreted in a way that is not accurate.
For example, you might be seen as unreliable because you didn’t get something done ontime or be viewed as a loose cannon because you speak up and say things at client meetings that are not appropriate. Some of these stories might be true, but often they aren’t reflective of who you really are at work. The problem is one or two negative stories can cement a perception of you that is actually inaccurate.
Here is a seven-step process to help you deal with workplace gossip and change negative misperceptions into positive (or neutral) ones:
Step 1: Gather information about the unfavorable story.
Without getting emotional or defensive gather as much information as you can about the unfavorable story. This fact-gathering stage is key. You don’t want to fly off the handle, confront someone and make matters even worse.
Step 2: Dispel the unfavorable story.
Go to the source of the story – the person who believes or is communicating the misperception – and explain your situation. Discuss your perspective and what you felt actually happened. Provide enough information so the person understands exactly the truth from your perspective. You could say, “Hi, Carla. I hear you may have some concerns about what I said at the client meeting. Could you tell me about them?” And then, after hearing the other person out, provide your perspective of why you spoke out like you did.
Step 3: Ask about other misperceived stories.
Ask the person if they have any other stories that they would like to share. When you hear the new stories, explain what actually happened versus what was perceived. Provide greater understanding of how these stories could have been misinterpreted.
Step 4: Take responsibility for what you did.
Even though you may not agree with the misperception, you most likely can find some things that you can be accountable for. Show that you have learned a lesson and what you take from this situation. Come up with some examples of what you’ll do differently based on what you have learned.
Step 5: Share favorable stories.
When a person observes something unfavorable, this image gets stuck in their mind. Counter the negative perception by coming up with ways and examples of how you haven’t been that which they think you are. If they think you are untrustworthy, come up with three or four stories illustrating your trustworthiness. These other stories help balance out a one-sided and limited perspective.
Step 6: Ask the person to give you another chance.
Explain how you don’t want to be stuck in their view of something that happened in the past. You sincerely desire to be given another chance to prove yourself. It’s not fair for you to be punished by something that happened only once or it occurred years ago. Get the person to take a risk on you and let you try again. The risk is minimal with tremendous potential upside.
Step 7: Thank the person for their honesty and willingness to help you.
This is one of the best ways to enhance your reputation and clear up any misunderstandings.
Since your career advancement depends on other people’s perceptions of you, it’s important to take action quickly when negative stories about you surface. Get valuable feeback about the way you are perceived at work by completing the perception evaluation here.
Talkback: Have you ever been the subject of unfavorable gossip at work? How did you deal with it?
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