What to do when you can't keep up...with work.

What to do when you can't keep up...with work.

burnout



 
By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer


Every former student recalls, with amazing clarity, the feeling of being wholly underprepared for an exam or entirely forgetting to complete a vital assignment. In such tense situations, emotions can run the gamut: fear, helplessness, remorse, anger and, ultimately, resignation. For many, these overwhelming feelings are left behind at the completion of one’s education. The real world rarely offers such trials, right? However, for some, these sensations of underperforming and failure can re-emerge at certain stages in their professional lives. And they can be just as crippling as they were back in 8
th grade.

We have all worked for a boss that seems to have been promoted to their point of incompetence, someone who has a hard time delivering their work and living up to their professional responsibilities. The Peter Principle is a theory that encapsulates that very belief: members within an organisation are rewarded with promotions until a time that they have been promoted beyond their level of ability. This is a widely recognised principle and has been observed across a large cross-section of industry.
 
So, what happens if you are that person? What if you are not able to keep up with the demands of your job? What if you do not have the requisite skill-set to complete your primary tasks? What if you just have too much work and are running at a stand-still? This is a very present reality for many people in the workforce and can often lead to disastrous outcomes. To avoid being that person, here are some methods that you can use to try to remedy the situation:
 
Don’t hide your ignorance
Most of us would prefer to crawl into a dark hole when confronted with a subject matter about which we know little. Especially if it pertains to your job. No one enjoys playing the dunce. However, concealing your ignorance is detrimental not only to yourself but to all those around you. If you are unable to complete a core function of your job, you are shouldering a blame that is not yours to carry. Make your superiors aware of the gap in your knowledge or skill-set so that you are not left as the only one at fault if and when you are unable to perform some of your responsibilities.
 
Seek assistance immediately
Swallow your pride and seek the assistance that you need. The only way that you will be able to get a firm grasp on your professional responsibilities is to learn how to do it properly from others who know more than you. Your employer will not fault you for making the effort to learn how to best perform your tasks. If anything, they will openly encourage you to do so.
 
Only accept realistic objectives
A very real and commonly-held fear in the workplace is that turning down work can be detrimental to your reputation and, ultimately, organisational advancement. Many people believe that declining a project or new responsibility can be perceived as being lazy or underperforming. The reality is that taking on too much work can, ultimately, negatively impact your work life. Shouldering too many tasks can lead to longer hours, dilution of quality and an increased chance of failing to deliver. In a customer-driven industry, for example, failure to deliver can be catastrophic. You need to ensure that you are able to accept work that you can deliver comfortably and with a high degree of quality.
 
Delegate responsibilities
If you are part of a team (be it in a supervisory role or otherwise), do not be afraid to ask a colleague to assume some of your responsibilities if you are unable to perform them well. Holding on to too many tasks is a common mistake that many managers make and, often, leads to a situation where many objectives fall by the wayside as a result of taking on too much. You always need to keep in mind that you and your co-workers are working towards a common objective and that resources need to be shared appropriately.
 
 Acquire a new skill-set
If you have been newly promoted into a supervisory role, for example, and you do not have any management experience, it would be a good idea to take some professional courses on how to manage people. Acquiring a new skill-set not only helps your professional expansion but it also helps you learn how to cope with your current reality. A lack of necessary skills to perform your current job can be crippling and can lead to a disastrous outcome.
The key focus to coping with a job that may be over your head is to be proactive. For many of us, our natural reaction is to curl up into a ball and try to ignore the pressures that surround us. Doing so can only lead to more trouble. Try and identify the specific areas that are causing you trouble and try to systematically approach them. Do not be embarrassed to admit that you are having issues; this is the first step to righting the ship and moving confidently forward.