Do You Allow People to Overload You With Work?

I used to have a boss who would walk into my office (while I was in the middle of all the other jobs he’d given me to do) and say something like;

“I need your thoughts on last month’s figures – quick as you can.

And call this national account and see what they’re moaning about.

And be in the boardroom in 20 minutes the chairman has got a new project and we need your personal touch.

And tell the team to stop spending so much money on trains and hotels it’s getting ridiculous.

Oh – and before I forget, I need you with me next week when I present that big proposal.

Keep up the good work.”

– And Then He’d Be Gone –

I like to call that “Worry Dumping”.

And let me tell you – Worry Dumping is something that is unleashed with unnecessary regularity by far too many managers.

They’ll slip into your office or pick up the phone – and then it’s off their plate and onto yours – someone else’s problem – all done – all forgotten about.

Believe it or not – very few teams are just sitting there with completely empty minds (even if it looks that way) or blank to-do-lists – and although “Don’t Do, Delegate” might be a great mantra, just taking it on face value (and without really understanding the true meaning of that simple phrase), can be just as damaging as telling a young, thrusty salesman to “Always Be Closing” (which is never as productive as it sounds).

What to Do if You Worry Dump on Your Team

Let’s say you have four people who report to you. Those four people should all be working on the same jigsaw – a puzzle that eventually becomes the complete picture of your overall vision.

Therefore, they should just have a corner each to work on – yeah, OK, maybe one corner is more complex than another – but the expectations and workload in all cases is always fair and adequately rewarded.

If you give them a job to do, it should relate to their corner – if any of the jobs you hand down come as a surprise to them – then you need to take a long look at how you communicate what it is you want them to Focus on and what they are actually Accountable for.

If the job being handed over doesn’t relate to their corner – ask yourself why it’s suddenly become so desperately important and whether the person being chosen should really be doing it, or whether you just trust them more than someone who has let you down previously.

If the latter is the case, ask yourself this – Who is being rewarded here?

Is it the person who you never want to lose, who you would trust to organise your own daughter’s wedding – but who regularly has to take work home (and happily will do so) just to keep up with what’s required?

Or – is it the person earning the same wage, who you can’t trust to do a great job, and because of that has a much lighter workload and whose worries don’t stretch past five in the evening?

What to Do if Your Boss Worry Dumps on You

First of all – just to eliminate the obvious – make sure the job you’re focusing on is the one you’re being paid for – and not a project that takes the business where you think it should be heading (because you’ve decided you know better).

If you believe that your business vision is more powerful than those paying your wages – then worry dumping may happen quite a lot more often than you want it to – eventually followed by discipline dumping and then just plain dumping.

However, if your boss regularly dumps jobs on you because you’re the one they trust the most – try to bend with it (and also try to see it as some level of compliment).

By bend I mean organise your day with a one hour worry dump window – say, between four and five.

Get everything done that must be done first and then use that hour for those fairly regular visits from the boss.

If the worry dump never arrives, simply make a start on tomorrow’s first job at four o’clock instead.
And while were here, both parties could definitely benefit from:

Prioritising

Which job or piece of information needs to be communicated or done first? Which of them is the most important and which is the most urgent?

To help you differentiate, think of important as all the things that matter to you and urgent as the things that matter more to someone else.

Just to be clear – If something is important to your boss and not urgent to you, but you’ll lose your job if it’s late, then that makes it important to you too.

But, if your boss worry dumps and you have to stop working on something that they told you was just as important only an hour ago, make sure it’s them that has to make the choice of what they’d like you to do first – stop careering towards an early heart attack of worry and stress – and ask them.

That way expectations are clear and a sense of reassured calm and imminent success can return to the work place.

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