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I work on a technical service desk for a large insurance company. I've been in this role for over 10 years and in the past have been able to effectively deal with the stress and pressure of the environment.

As a veteran in this role I've gained the reputation as being the go-to person for any technical questions. So much so that even the higher support teams regularly ask my advice on problems that they are unable to diagnose. Furthermore, the company of 600+ 'users' often bypass the usual service desk route in order to speak direct to me.

However, despite enjoying the recognition for actually being good at my job, the stress is becoming unbearable and I am beginning to crack. I find myself leaving my post for 30 minutes or more at a time, just to escape the constant barrage of questions, calls and people expecting a higher level of service from me.

I often think about quitting, but I have such a good relationship with the users that I almost feel like I'd be walking away from a big family if I were to leave. I also enjoy being well respected by my colleagues, although higher management willfully ignores my performance as they do not wish for me to move to a different position.

I'm lost at what I should do next. I cant keep disappearing from my desk to sob in the corner when i feel overwhelmed.

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I'm sorry you're upset with your situation - that's a horrible way to feel. You've acknowledged a lot of things you're unhappy with, so that's a starting point already.

1) (from your comment) "I've wanted to email my manager and explain how I feel but I don't really know what I want the outcome to be."

Have a quiet think about this, in your own time. Try and figure it out, think about what you'd like, and what would need to change in your current role for you to be happy. It's a good exercise to do, even if you don't go to your manager in the end.

2) "I have such a good relationship with the users that I almost feel like I'd be walking away from a big family if I were to leave... So much so that even the higher support teams regularly ask my advice on problems that they are unable to diagnose. Furthermore, the company of 600+ 'users' often bypass the usual service desk route in order to speak direct to me."

These are two sides of the same coin, and obviously you want to make your customers/colleagues happy. However, you shouldn't be doing this at the expense of your happiness. You should start training the 600+ users to go through the proper channels. You already enjoy a high level of respect - it is okay to say no. Explain that you'd love to help but you're a bit swamped with other work, so would they mind logging a ticket? It will take a while for people to get used to this, especially if they've been allowed to bypass the service desk, but it will make things easier for you in the long run. Then, if someone gets in touch and you have the time and calm to deal with your problem, you can always do them a favour and bypass the service desk, but it should be a favour, not the norm. There's a service desk there for a reason.

You obviously have lots of knowledge and capabilities, and your users know this. However, that doesn't mean you have time and superhuman capabilities. You need to reassign other items - so what? Guess what, that's part of your job, and the job of the others on your team. Their problem isn't necessarily more important than anyone else's. Get your users to start using the proper channels.

(There are other questions and answers on here that deal with precisely this issue - saying no, getting users to go through the official channels, that sort of thing, which phrase it far better than I ever could - I'll find the links later.)

3) "I also enjoy being well respected by my colleagues, although higher management willfully ignores my performance as they do not wish for me to move to a different position"

Finally, if you're overworked and taking crying breaks, this is a big deal, and management should be aware of it, and hopefully willing to do something about it. You're obviously an asset to the company and well-liked, and they don't want you to leave. As I said, think about what your preferred outcome would be, and start to reassign some work if you can. You can even tell your manager you're unhappy, and that you're in the process of figuring out what outcome you'd like, but ask if it would be acceptable to have a meeting once you've done so to talk about your role.

Good luck.

  • Thanks for this Luna, I really appreciate your reply. I've booked some time off work next month so that I can have a proper think about what I want from this job going forward. – UpsetMan Jan 22 '15 at 13:17
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    That sounds like a good idea, and having seen your comments, it sounds like although users like you, they're taking advantage a bit, and your management sounds pretty unwilling to give you the remuneration and credit you seem to deserve, so I wouldn't worry too much about your loyalties to them if it's not reciprocated. It's a tricky spot, so best of luck with it. – user29632 Jan 22 '15 at 13:34
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    To reinforce Luna's excellent answer--you should not work on any issue unless there's a ticket and it's assigned to you. We have the same problem in our company. As the company grew, IT had to make people go through the service desk (Tier 1) and have issues be escalated to senior or specialists (Tier 2) if needed. – mkennedy Jan 22 '15 at 18:01
  • I went through the same as mkennedy as a coordinator. We had some good techs and some not so good techs, because of this I often took on the lion's share of work as it made things easier for everyone except me... It's hard when you're one of the best people at handling certain issues but forcing yourself to delegate it or "put in a ticket" so someone else can do it simply because you've got more important issues to tackle and not enough time to tackle them in a healthy manner. (the vacation is an excellent idea! I've learned to take a day every few months to just reflect, it really helps) – RualStorge Jan 22 '15 at 19:57
  • +1. Handing tickets over to colleagues, even if you are the best person to handle the issue, is not only important for your own sanity but also to help those colleagues grow in their own careers. Furthermore, your management will be more disposed to you moving upwards if your colleagues can clearly cope without you, even if they are not quite as good. – Julia Hayward Jan 23 '15 at 13:37

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