Mark’s Blog

The Overloader is unfair and unreasonable. 

Sometimes our workload is beyond our control.

Do you sometimes have too much work to do? Well if the answer’s yes, you’re not alone. Almost everyone I know tells me they’re overworked. They have too much work to do and not enough time to do it.

Sometimes, too much work is pretty much our own doing. We’ve decided what work we need to do – or want to do – and we’ve added it to our list. Admittedly, we might have felt pressured to take it on. But at least we’ve been able to have a say in it.

But at other times, our workload isn’t up to us. It’s pretty much out of our hands and beyond our control. Sometimes it’s just because of the job itself – it goes with the territory. Let’s face it, some jobs are packed with things to do – and often packed with plenty of pressure as well. But sometimes it’s because work keeps getting given to us – even though we’ve already got a full plate. And on top of that, the expectation is we’ll just put up with it and cope.

Sometimes we have to go the extra mile.

Now there’s nothing wrong with being given work to do. Of course not. And there’s nothing wrong with having a busy schedule. After all, when we’re at work, we’re supposed to be working and supposed to be fully occupied. And on top of that, most of us want to be. We don’t want to be bored. But we also have the situation where we’re given so much work, it can’t be done without us working unusually hard and unusually long. And without skipping on lunch and maybe doing extra hours – and perhaps unpaid ones.

Now just like there’s nothing wrong with being given work to do, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having to work hard every now and then. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having to put our heads to the grindstone every now and then, and go ‘above and beyond the call of duty’. It’s sort of part and parcel of having a job. And most of us don’t mind it. I know some do and I get it. But most of us will cop it every now and then – especially if we get some sort of compensation for it later even if it’s only ‘time off in lieu’ or whatever.

But there comes a time when it’s unfair and unreasonable.  

However, having said all that, sometimes some of us are given so much work it’s what we can only call unreasonable and unfair. We get too much work and it goes on for way too long. And just when we think things might be back to normal we get hit again. And although it’s sometimes to do with the way the organisation is structured, the changes it’s going through or the tough times that are upon us, it’s very often because of someone I call The Overloader.

The Overloader overloads us with work and perhaps responsibility. They give us too much work to do, too often and want it done within an unreasonable timeframe. And they keep giving it to us. We’re overloaded and overwhelmed – and it takes it toll.

There are three main types of Overloaders.

Not all Overloaders are the same. In fact, there are three main types. A brief description of each follows.

1. Blissfully unaware.

The first one is someone who just doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing. They don’t realise they’re overloading us. But it doesn’t mean we should let them off the hook. After all, they’re being unfair and we’re overloaded.

2. Lazy and mean.

The second type knows what they’re doing. They give us more and more work and they know it’s unfair and they know it’s hurting us. But they don’t care. Or they don’t care enough to actually do anything about it. Many them are simply lazy. If they can get out of doing work by lumping it us then they’re all for it. If they’re confronted, they’ll either act all innocent and tell you they didn’t know there was a problem, or they’ll have every excuse under the sun. They’ll tell you, for example, it’s not their fault. Instead it’s all the fault of those above them. Meanwhile of course, they’re happily taking credit for all our hard work.

3. Rotten to the core.

Now the third type is really someone who’s quite nasty. They most certainly know what they’re doing. It’s possible they’re just lazy but it’s more likely they want us to flounder, fail and go under. So they give us more and more work. And if we don’t get it done or if we talk to them about how it’s too much, they’ll tell us, and probably tell others behind our back as well, that we’re simply not up to it. They’ll let it be known we’re incompetent, we’re not efficient and we’re bad at time-management. In short, if we’re finding it all a bit much then it’s clearly our fault. And in many cases, they’ll have no trouble telling us if we can’t handle the heat then maybe we should get out of the kitchen; that is, we should find a new job.

How should we deal with an Overloader.

Grin and bear it?

There are several options for dealing with The Overloader. And the first one is to grin and bear it. That is, put up with it, do your best and hope things will get better. But the problem here is The overloader gives you so much work it’s pretty much intolerable, and they keep doing it. So there’s a limit to how long you can simply put up with it and cope. However, it’s most certainly an option. And sadly, many people have told me that’s exactly what they do. And have been doing it all for a long time.

Find a new job?

So you might need to seriously think about whether you should be working for this person or for this organisation. For many of us, there comes a time when we need to consider if we should move on. Just how bad a situation has to be before this is the right thing to do is a matter for each individual. And it’s a path we rarely want to go down until we have another job lined up.

Talk to them?

Another option is to speak to them about it. And you never know, it might just do the trick. The issue of course, is how do you tell them. A lot of the advice you’ll find on the internet and wherever about how to deal with difficult people will tell you to “Talk to them.” or “Tell them how you feel.” But rarely is it accompanied by exactly what should you say, in what order should you say it and how should you say it. And when it is, it’s often way off the mark.

This is where I come to the rescue with my Personal Conversation Scripts. My suggestion for speaking to The Overloader is to start with the FEA script. You start by telling them the facts. That is, you tell them what’s been happening using what I refer to as ‘only what the camera saw’. You start by describing in purely objective terms what has happened. “On this day at this time I was asked to do such and such. I already had to do X, Y and Z. To complete these things by the time you wanted, I had to ……. “

After you’ve stated the facts, you explain to them it’s a problem. (This is the E bit.) You tell them there’s a problem, why it’s a problem and how you feel. And the last part of this three-part prescription is to ask (A) a question such as how you can work together to resolve the issue. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that but that’s enough for the one blog. And we don’t have room to discuss some other strategies including the FEWER script.

Anyway, let’s leave it there. If you’d like to have a chat about how to deal with the over later or any other type of badly behaved for difficult person, please go to the contact page of my website – there are plenty of ways to get in contact with me there.

And last but not least, here’s a short video.

Until next time, all the very best.

Mark.

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