Think about your typical work week. How much of what you do falls within your official job description? Chances are that you’ve taken on a lot of additional responsibilities beyond your main job.

With business moving faster than ever before, it’s no surprise that many are finding themselves in a situation where they have to accomplish more with less time and fewer resources. But have you ever wondered how much these extra duties really contribute to your professional growth versus just wearing you out?

Sensitive strivers (highly sensitive high-achievers) often become the go-to people when it comes to additional tasks. They find it hard to say no because they are not only driven but have a deep need to please others. They yearn for the metaphorical gold stars that come with exceeding expectations and going the extra mile.

But in the long run, it can lead to chronic burnout, hurting the organization’s morale and bottomline.

Let me tell you about Lane, a project manager who found himself in this situation when his team was hit with a 15 percent reduction in staffing. Lane, being the generous and loyal person he is, wanted to show support and alleviate his boss’s stress during this crisis. So, without hesitation, he volunteered to take on three major projects right away.

Sounds heroic, right?

Well, it didn’t take Lane long to realize that he had bitten off more than he could chew. He was constantly working and had zero time for himself, his family, or friends. He was on the express train to burnout with no stops in sight.

If you are like Lane and have a tendency to people-please or say yes to everything, it’s critical to learn how to say no with professionalism and grace.

Picture this: You’re part of the product team, but suddenly, you’re asked to lend a hand with marketing. The problem is that the marketing tasks might consume so much of your time that your core job responsibilities suffer.

Before saying yes, evaluate if the task brings significant learning opportunities or skill development. If not, it’s best to politely decline.

But how?

Instead of simply saying, “Sorry, I can’t take this on,” try the relational account. Clarify why saying no is in everyone’s best interest. For example, you can say, “If I help with this, I won’t be able to keep the commitments I’ve already made.” Research indicates that using this strategy can help others see you as a caring and conscientious person.

In today’s world of matrixed teams and collaborative workflows, it’s easy to find yourself doing work that isn’t really your job or even in your scope of work. For example, if you are working in sales, you shouldn’t be saddled with the task of fielding customer service inquiries. Lane, the project manager I mentioned earlier, found himself pulled into juggling tasks that belonged to the director of operations.

When Lane realized that he couldn’t keep up with these operational tasks, he talked to his boss and explained the situation: “I can’t continue doing these operational duties. It’s negatively impacting my role’s core functions. But I’m happy to create detailed documentation so that these items can be smoothly handed over to the operations team.”

On the other hand, if you’re OK with taking on additional responsibilities, make sure to clearly state what you want to gain from the new responsibility. This could include better assignments down the line, a step toward a promotion, or even recognition at a board meeting.

Also, consider requesting a compensation adjustment to reflect the added value you bring to the table. You could say, “For the last six months, I’ve assumed responsibilities A, B, and C. What’s the best way to ensure my compensation matches my increased scope?”

Avoid mismatched objectives by asking for well-defined terms on any new initiative. Seek specifics: How long will this assignment last? How many meetings will I need to attend? Once you have a clear understanding, then you can confidently decide if it’s a good match.

If it is not a good fit, deliver your answer with gratitude and honesty by saying something like: “Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate that you thought of offering me a part in it. After carefully considering my current responsibilities, it would be best to offer it to someone who has the bandwidth to help it reach its potential.”

See if you can help in some smaller way. You can offer to attend brainstorming sessions or provide input on the project plan. Contributing where you can showcases your proactive nature and proves you’re a team player.

Imagine senior leadership asking for a complete project plan in just three days. It’s an impossible ask, but what’s the best approach? Try a positive no, which allows you to protect energy and maintain the relationship. In response, you could explain what you can realistically achieve within the given time frame. For example, you might suggest adapting the timeline: “I understand this project is a priority. Friday is not feasible, but I can give you the completed project by Tuesday afternoon.”

Another option is to offer to connect them with someone else who can assist. You could say, “My bandwidth is a bit strapped right now, but this sounds like a great project for my colleague. I believe their expertise will be an asset to the project. I’ll send you their contact info.”

Remember, you can’t say no to everything, but being able to say no for the right reasons will boost your confidence and empower you to go further in your career.

QOSHE - 4 Times You Should Say No to Extra Work - Melody Wilding
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4 Times You Should Say No to Extra Work

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18.06.2024

Think about your typical work week. How much of what you do falls within your official job description? Chances are that you’ve taken on a lot of additional responsibilities beyond your main job.

With business moving faster than ever before, it’s no surprise that many are finding themselves in a situation where they have to accomplish more with less time and fewer resources. But have you ever wondered how much these extra duties really contribute to your professional growth versus just wearing you out?

Sensitive strivers (highly sensitive high-achievers) often become the go-to people when it comes to additional tasks. They find it hard to say no because they are not only driven but have a deep need to please others. They yearn for the metaphorical gold stars that come with exceeding expectations and going the extra mile.

But in the long run, it can lead to chronic burnout, hurting the organization’s morale and bottomline.

Let me tell you about Lane, a project manager who found himself in this situation when his team was hit with a 15 percent reduction in staffing. Lane, being the generous and loyal person he is, wanted to show support and alleviate his boss’s stress during this crisis. So, without hesitation, he volunteered to take on three major projects right away.

Sounds heroic, right?

Well, it didn’t take Lane long to realize that he had bitten off more........

© Psychology Today


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