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So yesterday, new manager (of about 12 weeks) speaks to myself and two other colleagues. Says he's really stressed, and wasn't coping very well earlier in the morning. Then starts talking about our work and says to us emphatically "please come to me with absolutely any problems!"

Now. I'm happy he felt he could confide in us. I'm even happy to be told I can come to my manager with any problems, after all, it's his job.

However there are 101 problems at my work right now, and we really can't afford to have 102 if the new manager should give up and quit. How should we handle this? Don't mention the reams of problems and let him discover them all for himself gradually over time so he isn't put off the job? Or take the invitation as such and offload everything? Another method?

(To be honest, myself and several colleagues aren't ruling out looking for a new job ourselves. But for those who stay, or even just for the short-term, we'd like to have the best possible working environment.)

  • Welcome to Workplace! what is your work relationship to the manager? – Oct18 is day of silence on SE Nov 1 '18 at 23:57
  • Thanks. The manager oversees two teams, and on mine there are about 10 of us. I'm one of the 'senior' members within our team. Not sure if that's what you're asking? – Po12 Nov 2 '18 at 0:17
  • that is important for people to understand what are your options. Usually, if you are under manager -- not many, if you are their boss -- a lot. If you are on the same level -- you'll have a few. On this site it is helpful to provide as many organizational details as possible, this way you'll get high-quality answers – Oct18 is day of silence on SE Nov 2 '18 at 0:35
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This will all be advice that you can pass to your manager, since you don't seem to have problems yourself.

To quote Bobby McFerrin: "In every life we have some trouble. But when you worry you make it double. " Stress is mostly something that you create yourself. I assume your previous manager was not that stressed, so it's not the job, it's the attitude to the job that is the problem.

What can you do about stress: A good technique is passing the buck on, preferably higher. There's a deadline, and you are sure you can't make it? And you are totally worried about it and stressed out? Tell your boss that you are not going to make it. Now it's not your problem anymore, it's your bosses problem.

A very good technique is "just say no". A lot of stress is self inflicted by saying "yes" to requests for work when you know or should know it's too much to handle. By saying "no" all these worries and stress go away. (I once worked under a manager who said "yes" to everything, regularly promised to deliver all ten items he was asked to do, and delivered only three. Bad reputation and stress for him. The manager changed. The new manager said "you can have two of these ten items, and three if the guys work really hard and we are lucky". Delivered the same three items, and everybody was happy with him, and no stress).

Another good technique is "I don't care". It's not the problems or the work that cause stress, it's the fact that you worry about them and let them stress you. If you don't care, don't worry, don't stress, then suddenly you find that with all the energy you wasted on worrying and stressing being used to find solutions instead, suddenly you can solve problems a lot easier. So instead of worrying about 101 problems, your manager should say "I don't care about these problems", and with that said pick up the first problem, handle it without caring that there are 100 more, then pick up the second problem, handle it without caring that there are 99 more, and so on.

Ok, advice for you: Make sure he figures out how to avoid stress. Until then, don't add to it because you only make things worse.

  • On the one hand, I think this is good advice - for smart, competent people. On the other, I know a few people who do what you wrote here and I would describe them all as unprofessional, incompetent a**holes with no sense of ownership. I think some stress in normal if you care and caring is good. (Apart from the 2nd point about saying "no" - but the problem with saying "no" is that you need quite a bit of political capital to do that, which you normally don't have 12 weeks into a new job. Of course, it should be possible to use it from the very beginning, but in many offices, you aren't). – BigMadAndy Nov 2 '18 at 16:11
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In my last role as Development Manager, you know what the single most aggravating, stressful thing was? It's when problems with my team's work were brought to my attention by somebody outside my team. When my boss brings me a complaint from another division, or a client finds a bug we should have caught. That's my nightmare.

In an effort to deal with this and bring transparency to my team around it, I created a work-quality metric called "Surprises". I recorded every time I was surprised by something like this, what the surprise was, whose work I believed it to have been, etc. I shared the surprises list with the team monthly.

My team was full of really great professionals who are very eager for growth and learning opportunities, and who I had a close relationship with. They were glad to have this visibility into what I deal with, and used this feedback very productively--to the extent that our Surprise rate dropped very quickly.

So consider that by "please come to me with absolutely any problems!", your manager really means exactly what he said. He wants you to be the one to highlight any issues, so you and he can work them out before they get visible externally.

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