3

So, I started a new job about 4 months ago. I could start an entire thread about the challenges that go with a complete lack of organization (which is part of the issue here), but I'll stick to the topic.

The company has a weak chain of command (lots of self directed teams, etc), and I keep getting added to projects without being notified beforehand. As a result, my plate is BEYOND full. Not only am I trying to manage multiple projects with tight turn around times, but I am still expected to fulfill my baseline duties (and the learning curve that comes along with being new), attend multiple ZOOM meetings and get required certifications that accompany my job responsibilities. I am overwhelmed.

I tried to tactfully ask for more time on a project, and the other person (not my direct report) made it seem like the issue is me saying YES to everything. It's the opposite. I'm not saying NO because I'm not sure I have the latitude to do so.

Since the underlying issue may be that the people that are assigning the projects aren't aware of my other obligations, I'm wondering if I can asked to be removed from a few items that I was VOLUN-TOLD for. Would it make me look like I can't carry my weight or that I'm not a team player? Would it look bad to ask to be a factor in the project assigning process?

I'm already working late into the evening and weekends to try to cover my current workload, and they keep adding more. Thoughts?

2
  • 6
    Bring this up with your manager in your next one-on-one; they may not be aware of all the conflicting draws on your time. It may be that they need to be more involved in your scheduling for a while, until you get more settled.
    – PeteCon
    Jun 22 at 23:21
  • 3
    Step 1: stop working late and on weekends. That's not helping your critical thinking skills AND moves the pain of overloading you on you instead of them.
    – Erik
    Jun 23 at 10:12
15

That's what your manager is for.

Schedule a 1:1, show them what's on your plate and tell them, that this is not workable. Present them with a few different scenarios that ARE workable and let them choose or come up with their own. Then ask them the help communicate the prioritization to the other teams and stakeholders involved.

Don't take "just do it all" for an answer. It's really simple. "I have A,B, C, D &E" on my plate but that's about 150% load so it doesn't work. I can do either "A, B, D" or "A, C, E". Let me know which option your prefer or what else you suggest".

5

Beyond talking to your manager (which is the better solution, as you have better control over what you can choose).

The other option is to respond to the person assigning to you the projects.

Say something like:

Thanks for assigning me to this project. However I am currently working with project A, B, C …, etc. I am currently unable to take on the extra work.

If you feel this is more important please talk to [names of owners of other projects] to see how best to schedule.

Once I have approval from them to move I will be happy to start working on your project.

It could be company culture to grab junior/lower ranked employees without asking as they expect no one to complain.

This at least puts the work on them to get approval. If they genuinely want you they will at least talk to the other project owners.

If they get pushy and the manager is not helping, pick the project that has either the least or most influential owner. Tell them you can no longer work on their project as you have been told to move to the new project.

Depending on their influence they will either let you go, or fight to keep you.

The main point is to always agree to help but can’t because someone higher up is stopping you.

1
  • I get the point, but if you let them decide without you, then they probably will replace your smallest involvement with a bigger one, so that effectively you will again get more work than possible. Therefore letting them discuss priorities is good, but you have to make the decision how much you can take.
    – Chris
    Jun 23 at 5:30
3

I think you already identified it: the problem is that you aren't saying no (or as your colleague says: you're always saying yes). It seems likely the expectations in your company are that you manage your own workload, and part of that is saying "no" when you have too much on your plate, or - if something is very important - to decide what you need to drop instead. It looks like nobody else is going to do it for you, so you need to be the one to do it. Stand up for yourself, manage your workload and draw a line.

This is pretty normal for flat companies with self-organizing teams and a cooperative culture.

It wouldn't hurt to talk about this with your direct manager and your peers, to get an idea how they handle this, and get some input on expectations.

And as others have already said: stop working late and into the weekend. It is bad for your health, and in the end you probably aren't even doing your company favours: exhausted people work slower and make more mistakes, and if you drop out due to burn out, your company will have to scramble to pick up the pieces.

0

In your situation, you don't have to ask to be removed from a project. You just announce that you're leaving it. If you haven't actually done anything on the project, I don't see any harm. If you had done a bunch of work and left it half finished that would be more problematic.

"I'm not saying NO because I'm not sure I have the latitude to do so."

You do because it's not your boss "assigning" work to you. In my career, I don't recall an instance where someone who wasn't in management could force me to do a project. It's not in your interest to accept more work than you can do. Yes, there are lots of people who will bully a co-worker into doing things if they can. That said, since your company has poor communication it must also have poor management and your workload is a reflection of that. Regardless of whether you accept new work from a co-worker or not, your workload will most likely remain unrealistic as your boss adds more things when he sees that you're not accepting 'voluntary' tasks form co-workers.

"I'm already working late into the evening and weekends to try to cover my current workload, and they keep adding more. Thoughts?"

It's not going to get better because it is normal in the culture at your company. This kind of company is also the kind to tell the most lies when trying to motivate you to work harder. Beware. I'd be looking for a new job if I were you.

2
  • 1
    We don't even know if it is "normal" at the company, we only know that OP doesn't say "No" and works overtime instead. Calculate how much you are paid per hour.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 24 at 10:11
  • @gnasher729 I've never heard of a company where it's normal for random co-workers to force assignments onto another worker and then that second worker is liable if they don't do the work. That'd mean it's unethical behavior. If anyone knows different, let me know. Far as money, well, when OP gets burned out and his projects start failing, that extra cash might be a slight comfort but it doesn't sound like a great way to build a career.
    – HenryM
    Jun 24 at 15:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .