The work is piling up. Nothing is falling in place the way it should. I can’t meet this deadline, let alone the one next week. There’s only one of me! What was I thinking in taking this job? My boss is gonna think I’m completely incompetent. OMG! I can’t breathe!
Ever been in this situation? Things pile up. Nothing gets taken off your plate…only added. Unrealistic deadlines don’t allow for creative thinking let alone doing the most basic work.
Under these circumstances, staff feel not only further pressured, they begin to doubt their own abilities. They lose confidence in themselves and the skills they thought they were bringing to the table.
There have been a plethora of articles written on these topics. But since I’m hearing it loud and clear from my clients, I thought I’d capture some of the highlights on both sides of the issue.
For the bosses out there. Great leaders know they don’t always know. They learn how to tolerate this discomfort, to listen, and to learn where to seek truth.
While the pressures can roll down hill, part of our job as leaders and managers is to protect our teams. Stop the roll!
Check in with your team members on a regular basis. One-on-one. Make your rounds and be accessible. If they trust you, you’ll learn a great deal about what a realistic work load looks and feels like.
Learn what’s working, what’s not. Some of the best suggestions come from those facing the day-to-day challenges. Your team is smart. Access their wisdom for the benefit of all.
Before adding something new to the plate, take a moment to re-prioritize the work. What may no longer be as urgent. What is important AND urgent? (Note my blog on February 6, 2018). You’ll keep your employee energized, focused, confident and productive.
For the team members. Great leaders know how to step away from the chaos, observe, and simplify the situation before stepping back in.
Take a deep, deep breath. Inhale for 8. Hold for 6. Exhale for 8. Do that three times.
Disconnect! Your brain is on overload! Get up. Take a break. Look out the window. Take a 5-minute walk.
Feel. Don’t think. Find the simplicity in what you see or hear. Hold on to it. Ignore the chaos.
If your boss doesn’t offer up a way to prioritize the work load, then ask. Lead from within.
Negotiate new deadlines to ensure quality. Working together, redefine expectations.
And find the humor buried in the situation that at the moment feels unbearable. You may have to dig for it, but it is there. I promise! Laughter – or a simple half smile or a chuckle – can do wonders.