What To Do When Work Feels Overwhelming
Whether you are a shop supervisor or a dedicated machinist, chances are you think it’s important that the people around you are doing their best and that the daily workload is manageable. It directly affects you in a variety of ways when you are under pressure with tight deadlines and see other people cutting corners, avoiding responsibility, or spending a lot of time doing nothing on the clock. It can be hard to stay motivated and dedicated when you see others sliding by doing the bare minimum. If you’re a manager or team lead, you have the ability to address the issue constructively, but if you are not in management, there are still plenty of things you can do to enhance your job satisfaction and reputation in a positive way.
There are two key issues that will cause problems in the workplace: demanding situations (that make you feel overworked) and disengaged/difficult people (that create friction in some way). Let’s start with the ways we deal with demanding situations first. If a person tends to complain about situations or gossip about people on a regular basis at work, that will have several specific consequences over time. It will cause positive, upbeat people – who might be helpful, or who might give praise to upper management, or who at least might be a pleasant part of one’s day – to avoid the gossiper as much as possible. Additionally, it will encourage other people around the gossiper who also like to complain to do the same back to the gossiper. In this manner, the stress in a person’s day will be magnified by the people around them, and upper management may be less likely to approach that person with new projects or promotions that could advance their career.
Another common pitfall we all struggle with is blame. It seems tempting and even logical to blame others when their lack of production or lack of competence slows us down. Blame of a specific person rarely ever leads to the best possible outcome in a situation, but identification of a process issue is a much more reasonable place to put one’s focus, and will reinforce your reputation as a problem-solver, not a problem-creator. For example, if a co-worker is supposed to complete and deliver a certain number of modules per day for you to assemble, and they are struggling to provide the number of modules you need to meet your daily quota, simply blaming the co-worker for being slow is far less productive than explaining to your supervisor that your capacity for a certain number of units could be increased if you could receive modules from additional sources. At this point, it’s up to your supervisor to correct the situation, and you have brought a process issue to light rather than making the matter personal.
Demanding situations are going to occur at every company, no matter what the industry. Your sales team may have just won a huge new order, which is great for the organization but may mean you have to work overtime to ramp up production. Perhaps one of your coworkers walked off the job or was injured, and suddenly you find yourself doing the work of two people while your company scrambles (or stalls) to hire additional staff.
Strategies for Coping with a Heavy Workload
The most important thing to do is to calmly and clearly identify the exact nature of the situation:
Is the situation temporary or permanent? If it’s temporary, decide how long you believe you can reasonably tough it out, and communicate that to your supervisor in a positive way, for example: “It’s exciting that we just won this new account/order; I’m happy to put in X amount of overtime hours for X amount of weeks/months, but beyond that I know I’m going to get burnt out; is there a long term solution in the works?” If there is a solution, then you have light at the end of the tunnel. If there is no solution, then you have to decide what to do about it; if your choice is to remain in that position, it’s best to do so with resolve and character so that your reputation continues to grow and you don’t shut out future opportunities at the company because of your attitude on the matter.
What positive outcomes have resulted? Perhaps by working more hours you are either making or saving more money than before. Perhaps you have had to learn a new machine or process; anytime you can learn a new skill at work, this only serves to make you a more valuable and well-rounded employee; embrace any opportunity to improve your skillset! Focus on the benefits of the situation, and encourage people around you to do the same, because when you shift your focus, you literally shift your reality as well.
Take an exact measurement of the situation. How many units were you producing before things changed, and how many units are you producing now? If your job deals with construction, how much square footage were you working through in a day (i.e. painting, flooring, mowing, etc.) and how much square footage are you working through now? Knowing this specific information about exactly how much you stepped up your game in response to a new challenge can make you stand out as a top performer; top performers are far more likely to succeed than people who complain but remain at essentially the same level of output as before. Once you have the exact measurement of how you have improved your own production, you can potentially take that to your supervisor and ask for a pay increase or some other added benefit that will keep you motivated and successful in the “new normal”.
Next week, we’ll look at the second common issue that causes trouble in the workplace, dealing with coworkers who are disengaged or difficult, and we will investigate some strategies to help you continue to move your career forward in spite of the typical disagreements that may arise.
Barracuda Staffing, Inc. cares about your success: check back next week for more tips on increasing your satisfaction in the workplace, and remember that one of the best things to have on your resume is Job Stability; however, if you are looking for a new place to spread your wings and grow into a leader in your department, we invite you to browse our current openings in Tulsa and surrounding areas, call to talk to a Recruiter, or simply submit your resume online today!