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Unmanageable workload and stress(8 Posts)
I am a middle manager and have a meeting arranged with the directors where I work next week to discuss my work and deadlines, which have become unmanageable. Does anyone have any advice on the best way to approach this? I really need to get across that what they are asking of me is unreasonable and impossible to achieve.
I run a department in a medium sized company, which until last year had 3 professional staff members and 2 part time admin assistants. Over the last year, one admin staff and 2 professional staff have left and the decision was made (from above) not to replace them. I have a specialised role and none of the people senior to me really understand the work or the detail of what we have to do.
The responsibilities of our department expanded a few years ago, when we took on extra staff. This coincided with the time I began the job and the two additional professional staff members were taken on to cope with this expanded role. The workload consists of day to day work (which used to take up about half of my time, but is now much more) and big, quite long-term projects, which I am now having to cope with alone. I have basically absorbed the workload of the two people who have left.
I have pointed this out, several times and they make noises about taking on additional staff, but never follow it through. I am now getting hassled from the business owner to provide a timeline of when I will complete the projects (including two major ones that were the responsibility of the other two people).
I feel as though I'm about to collapse with stress. I work really hard and I'm organised and good at my job, but it is all too much. It seems so completely obvious written down, but when I try saying it, it doesn't do any good. I don't think it helps that my job is so specialised (and one of the people who left had a slightly different, but overlapping specialism, so I'm having to learn a bit more about that too) - I think they can't actually comprehend what we do on a day to day basis. I've tried writing reports and explaining our work - but they're not interested, they just want the results.
So....(sorry, this is a bit long-winded), I have this meeting next week, which has been arranged by them as a way to getting me to commit to deadlines for the projects. My point is that any deadline for the extra ones is unachievable, unless I drop something else. I am driving myself into the ground, working extra hours and worrying about it when I'm not there (and ttc into the bargain - which I'm sure isn't helped by the pressure).The stress is making me forgetful and I don't think I'm performing as well as I used to, which is an additional worry as I don't want to lose my job. I don't know how much to say in the meeting and the best way to get it forward - do I focus on how it's making me feel, or the practicalities of it? I just want to be able to do my job well and not feel like I'm struggling to catch up all of the time.
An employer has a Duty of Care towards their staff and included in this is a duty not to make their staff ill . If you are unable to do the job due to lack of capability then they can fire you but overloading an otherwise capable worker could be grounds for your saying they are making you ill. The people above obviously do not know your job so you need to make them aware that the situation is making you ill Do so politley and armed with exact proof of this (just give the facts)as at this stage they do not know. Is there anyone else in the company who might take your side and support you a bit?
A visit to your GP may also help
What often happens is that the person gets so stressed they end up with time off work and possibly ultimately leaving.The time off work costs the employer and so on so it ends in a downward spiral for all
I could have written your post OP, except probably not quite such a specialist role. I too feel physically ill thinking of all the deadlines I won't meet and all the important day to day stuff that is going undone and worry I'll be caught out on something.
I guess you've had your meeting now? How did it go?
I'm attempting yet another meeting with my boss tomorrow after being off sick today - not a regular thing, I just couldn't face it and hardly slept a wink last night. Stress is the pits.
Have you got any data to illustrate what you need to show them?
Can you describe how long it takes to do x task, and how many of x task need to be done per week, thus equating to y hours?
Can you point out the organisational risks of not having the staff back, aside from the risk to you, eg company getting sued etc
Either...they get the extra staff or they cut down the work that the current staff do. They can't expect you to magic people hours from nowhere.
Work out what makes the most profit, that covers your depts costs, and offer to concentrate in that. Tell that what you have to drop that doesn't make the money.
I hope you managed to sort something out with your workplace.
This post/thread caught my eye because I'm in a similar position. I've only recently returned home from work. 9.30pm. And that's because I've got so much to do and really no time to get that done. I used to be the deputy. I stepped up to director as he left. But I don't have a deputy.
I also have no admin support (negligible) and I have a v heavy workload anyway.
I understand the need to step up if I want a promotion and career devt but this is quite taking the mic really. My own workload was higher than the director's when he was around. And now I am taking his job role and having no other support.
Quite how I'm supposed to achieve those targets without resources I don't know...
Sorry, I only just spotted these later replies! The meeting went ok and I have put everything onto a chart, showing my deadlines and also listing those projects that we need additional resources now. I think this format seems to work for them - I've written so many reports about how we need more staff, but they never read them! They seem to have got the message for now and am approaching my work in a slightly different way - by cutting my day in half and spending the morning on admin and afternoons on projects. It's depressing to read of other people in the same situation and I know other departments in the business are in a similar situation, although they haven't been hit as badly as us.
Still feeling quite stressed though - it seems normal to have a tight feeling around my chest by the end of the day, even if I've had a productive afternoon working on interesting projects. Think a trip to the doctors might be in order anyway.
Hedgehog good that they are finally listening to you. They are being beyond unreasonable from your OP you have absorbed the work of many whilst they are still expecting quality and productive work.
This is SO easy for me, a stranger on the internet to say, but can you try not to care as much? I sense your are very conscientious.
Being uncharitable about them - they have reduced their outgoings yet (thanks to your hard work and dilegence) are still receiving a great 'service' from your dept. They might feel the more the push they the higher you jump for them. A win-win for them....
It is so difficult when you are in it (and know I have experienced similar) but they cannot just keep heaping more and more on you.
Can you push anything new back to them and say 'If you would like me to do x then what shall I drop/deprioritise?'. And finish on time and don't work until the next day.
The stress isn't great in general buy esp when ttc.
I don't mean to be patronsing or bossy, just offering an outsiders perspective.
Hope the approach as agreed in the meeting works for you and that you see a bfp soon.
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