Are you an employee or manager? Try this

Being back in the office after a few days away isn’t all pizza and relaxed house calls. Stress levels have to be managed to avoid burnout. And if your boss gives you a workload that will strangle your spirit, it could set you up for failure in the long run.

Many managers will realise that because a presentation you made was so well received you were urged to increase your workload to do it all again. It’s too easy to go back to your old ways because you were surrounded by people who thought you were fantastic last week. When in reality, you were too emotional and really got wound up about what you’d said, and how you’d said it.

This is true of many managers as well as employees. Just to keep up with what everyone else is doing, it’s hard not to push boundaries a little too far. Too many self-imposed deadlines, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment when you don’t get them.

For new employees, if you’ve only had about six months of working experience, your manager will think of you as someone to be manipulated by, who needs to do as much as the boss and anyone else. But if you’ve been working as an independent contractor for a long time, your management style is so often respectful and trusted you’re not going to find yourself getting a new position.

This goes back to the old chestnut that “the devil is in the detail”. Confronting the business issues and presenting as a team means you are in control of all the details, and knows where the toes of your boss are to tread. You’re very strong on the ones that directly affect you. But your manager knows that because you’re so smart, and you may have no interest in getting bogged down in the big plans you’re created in your head, and have to take stock.

Your manager will want to listen to you first, but without an understanding, there isn’t likely to be any forward progress. His or her agenda is likely to be completely different to your own. Any time a subject arises, it will run through their minds before you have a chance to and assume the situation is somehow your fault.

This is because it is because you’ve dragged them into a different situation, and you’re going to bring them into situations that are beyond their control. You’re unlikely to come out with any of the success they want. You’re going to be like an extra in a forgotten scene in the original Star Wars movie, pulled in front of a mirror, front and centre, trying to find the hero before he’s disappeared – and failing.

Stress levels and fires are a natural part of the job. So you’ll probably be expected to do them all over again, every week. It’ll be essential to manage your time, either with the right coaching or better recognition of your new skills and knowledge. It will also be imperative to realise that, if you don’t, then the game is in the riskier surroundings.

Whether your manager is really doing this to you intentionally, or not, it’s not something you can let go, because it might lead to a surprising future role in the organisation.

If the answer is yes, then it’s not time to jump ship just yet. A manager’s plans could always be to make you work even harder if the time is right. They might even be there for you after a bad incident, to pat you on the back for your problem-solving skills. But it’s likely that it will result in your career moving forward, because the key is to learn from the experience – and both sides of the fence are important.

The job you’ve taken on is not your absolute end. There is always a way to make things more productive for everyone, but it’s much easier to do when you’re free of the stress and distractions. It’s also much easier to stay on top of a bad situation when you can take stock of it, and understand the events and their root causes. If you can, you’ll get ahead of a trap that’s a lot tougher to escape – that of burnout.

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