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How to Talk to Your Boss About Stress

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Some people thrive on stressful situations. To them, an encroaching deadline or the bottom falling out of a project is just the challenge they’ve been looking for, becoming super charged by the stress of the situation and harnessing this energy to ride parallel to the brink of failure and come out on top. Yeah, some people. For most of us, stressful situations, especially stressful situations at work, are just plain stressful. The way things usually go, you’ll often asked to complete tasks at work without the proper amount of time, money or manpower to make the process anything less than a nightmare. The deadlines are too short, the programs that you’re using are too old and you need a vacation like a fish needs a fish tank. When the stresses of your working life add up, it can mean burning out and disengaging, an attitudinal misstep that can effectively smother any chance of enjoying your work. Because of how important maintaining a good work/life balance is for long term success at your job, it’s up to you to talk with your supervisor when the tension starts to take its toll.

This, however, can be a bit of an awkward proposition. Often times, it’s our supervisors that set the pace of our working lives and waving the white flag can feel like admitting defeat or weakness. Now, this shouldn’t be the way that a good supervisor works with benchmarks and deadlines, but in companies with competitive or results-driven cultures, this mindset is often encouraged by those in charge. If you’ve start looking at your work like something that you need to conquer or a burden that you must be strong enough to carry, it’s no wonder you’re stressed.

Despite what your manager would like you to think, their primary responsibility is ensuring the continuing effectiveness and well being of their reporting employees, not squeezing every minute of productivity that they can out of you. When you’re over worked, the fatigue that it causes both decreases your on-the-job effectiveness and increases the likelihood that you’ll end up taking of your work home with you, emerging you further in the quagmire of stress. When your home life starts blending with the demands of work, there are fewer and fewer chances to release your stress, making it only a matter of time before you get to your limit.

As touchy of a subject as it might be, your supervisor is probably the best person to talk with about your work-related stress. They have the most control over and familiarity with your workload, and if stress is starting to cause you to lose sleep or disengage with your job, then they’ll want to know about it. According to this Forbes Article, 83% of the workforce feels stressed out by their jobs, so stop worrying about appearing like a weak link. Stress is a common, legitimate workplace concern and, if your stress could be eased by more man power on a project or a humanly realistic deadline, then you need to let your boss know. You’ll be happier, obviously, and they’ll be happy that you’re operating at a pace that you can keep up for the long term.

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