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Returned to work not coping with workload

(14 Posts)
polexiaaphrodesia Tue 04-Apr-17 14:54:23

I returned to work a month ago following maternity leave and am struggling to cope with the amount of work I've been asked to take on.

I was promoted before I went on maternity leave but during the time I was away the department has been restructured and the role has changed so that there is now a manager directly above me. Unfortunately the manager they have recruited isn't starting until the end of July and so my maternity cover is in the process of handing me over two jobs plus a large project. I work 4 days per week.

I'm finding that I just can't cope with the volume of information I'm expected to pick up and have been making mistakes which are making me look bad and are undermining my confidence. My maternity cover is much more senior than me and we've had a 2 month handover but all he seems to do is keep all the interesting work to himself and leaves me with the high volume crap or doesn't explain things properly and leaves me to mess up and then get angry emails back about things I've missed.

I'm finding it so busy that I can't pick up DS on time from nursery and I'm working late into the evenings. There have been a couple of times when I have sat in my car at lunchtime and cried as I've felt so overwhelmed.

The department I work in seems to have become completely toxic since I left and out of the 7 of us currently working under the head of department, 4 are leaving in the next month so there is no capacity for anyone to take anything off my plate. In fact, all everyone seems to be doing is passing more and more on to me.

I feel like such an idiot for not being able to cope. Before maternity leave and in my old role I was capable and confident but now I just feel like a worthless, useless little shrimp who can't do anything right. I know that if I was being handed over the role I was promoted into that I would be able to cope and would be doing a good job but being handed over 2 jobs and the project on top of them is just too much.

I work in a professional field so I'm not sure if this is something I should just suck up as everyone works overtime but I seem to be completely drowning. I have booked a 1 to 1 tomorrow with the head of department but I am dreading it I feel like it will just be acknowledging that I'm terrible at my job publicly. Sorry for the rant, I just needed to get things off my chest.

daisychain01 Wed 05-Apr-17 05:39:18

I'm sure you already know this, but make sure you prepare very thoroughly for your HoD meeting. Go in with a prioritised list of achievements and challenges, show what you are trying to do to resolve concerns about workload and ask for their support and specific advice on how to get through this next period until your new manager starts. Don't accept platitudes, get them to give you a steer on how to get you some help. Highlight you're on a 4 day week, definitely highlight your return from maternity, so they know there could be an issue about discrimination because of your pt status etc.

Make sure you take notes and minutes of the meeting, in case you need it later on.

eternalopt Wed 05-Apr-17 05:48:12

On the plus side, if everyone else is leaving, they should be amenable to keeping you happy so you don't as well. Keep calm and set out all the facts and just explain that the workload takes you beyond a 4 day week.

JustMyLuckUnfortunately Wed 05-Apr-17 06:01:57

Good advice from Eternal around how to word this

Good luck & let us know how it goes

Rinkydinkypink Wed 05-Apr-17 06:15:03

Firstly keep calm! Secondly you work 4 days. There are limits as to what you can do within that timescale. You cannot do everything!

Start making notes on work you're being asked to do. Prepare well and insist on a supervision or HR meeting. Be firm but fair.

STOP working beyond your hours. It's sounds like you'll never get it all done even if you work day and night. Your not helping yourself but hiding the scale of the work out of hours! Also start to take your lunch away from your desk. This is a must for your stress levels. Go outside if you can!

For your own mental well-being put in place good things to do out of work. Family time, meals with friends, walks on a beach etc.

Don't let this job swallow you up! There is a reason so many are moving (maybe start looking yourself!). Use the internal system to manage this. Speak to HR, request training, share your concerns in a calm and fair manor. Consider some counselling through an EAP or private counsellor.

This job is already getting to you far more than any job should. Take back control!

AddToBasket Wed 05-Apr-17 06:24:16

Please do not go to the meeting saying you can't cope. You must frame the meeting as not about you but about the poor systems in the department.

It isn't you. Do not go in there and give them any reason to look as though it is about you. Be strong. Remember you are a professional with experience.

Write down where the department is getting it wrong. Explain that because of X reason everyone is passing their work to you.

On top of that, you have reservations about the management skills of your maternity cover and do not want to be delegated work by him.

Do not appeal to emotions. This is bad for their business because obviously mistakes will get made in these circumstances and morale will plummet. Be strong! Lean in and all that.smile Let us know how it goes.

SybilsLeaves Wed 05-Apr-17 06:44:35

Some great advice here - I do 4 days a week and found it useful for other people to contextualise that in percentage terms. In this instance, when talking to your HoD, articulate that you're not sure other people have yet realised that you have 20% less capacity than you did previously and how does he/she think you can work together to communicate and enforce that? Phrasing it like that shows your willingness to tackle the problem together whilst outlining the firm truth that you are NOT a f/t worker on p/t pay.

Not sure of your environment but when I went through similar, upon receiving a request, I would always respond by email ccing in relevant manager e.g. Hi X, thanks for your email. Just to clarify, you'd like me to do A, which I estimate will take 1.5 days, and B, which will take about 2 days. I can do A by Friday, but to do B as well means I won't be able to finish Z, current project, until next week. Manager, copied you in for reference in case you have a view on prioritisation here.

It's slow and painful, but gives you an audit trail and reinforces your parameters in a non aggressive way so that it sinks into people's minds.

Hope that's helpful - good luck.

polexiaaphrodesia Wed 05-Apr-17 07:15:02

Thank you all for your good advice. As soon as I get into work this morning I will write out some notes and get preparing. Will also follow up with an email to make sure what is agreed is in writing. Will report back later!

Rinkydinkypink Wed 05-Apr-17 07:30:53

Good luck! Your ability is not in question. Remember this!

polexiaaphrodesia Wed 05-Apr-17 22:12:39

Well I had the meeting this morning with my HoD who also invited my manager. HoD started talking before I could even open my mouth about how busy everyone in the department is, everyone is doing 2 jobs as so many people have left and how the first 6 months of every job are always hard etc etc. Apparently she has been crying in office as she has been receiving bad feedback from other HoDs about how harsh she has been on their teams hmm

When I finally managed to get a word in edgeways I pointed out how much work I have been handed over and kept repeating that a) it was far too much b)I'm completely new to the role and c)I have 20% less capacity than the rest of the team. She suggested some solutions e.g. prioritising one workstream, advising stakeholders that we are experiencing capacity issuses which I think may help a little but don't really solve the main issue of me being asked to do 2 jobs in 4 days per week.
Unfortunately things within my team are starting to take a negative turn. We had a large group meeting this afternoon and when it was over (we were told it had finished), I left with 80% of the other people in the group but my immediate team stayed behind to discuss something important but didn't think to ask me to come back into the meeting room.

This evening there were a number of messages on the team whatsapp group regarding a work issue and my manager commented on how he'd been trying to get me to resolve an issue earlier in the month but I hadn't managed to find the time to do it until last week (because I have so much bloody work) 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't make her drink' was his comment. I don't think he realised I'd been added to the team whatsapp group. I can only imagine what other comments they are making behind my back without me knowing.

I now just feel even more demoralised and my confidence is even lower than it was this morning. I've written an email to my HoD outlining the conversation we had this morning but haven't mentioned the whatsapp message.

AddToBasket Wed 05-Apr-17 22:27:29

Did you screen shot it? You must. And take the whole thing to HR again. This sounds like post-mat leave bullying. You need to flag it and the meeting.

polexiaaphrodesia Thu 06-Apr-17 07:11:56

Yes, screenshot and sent to my personal phone as this was all on work phones

Penguin27 Thu 06-Apr-17 07:49:36

What a horrible situation to be in OP! I don't really have any specific advice but others upthread have made some good suggestions and I'd definitely start keeping a log of everything that happens. Remember that you're fully capable of doing your job, it's not you that's the problem here!

eternalopt Mon 10-Apr-17 11:18:52

Worth reminding them that you've taken a 20% pay cut too. You're not just slacking off! I frequently remind my boss that if he's expecting nothing to change and I'm to do the same amount of work I used to, but inside of 4 days, I'll have that 20% back please!

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