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Commentary Detail

Working for a Manager Who Overloads You Can Be Hell on Earth
Commentary by: Anna Navarro
Aired April 28, 2008

Working for a manager who dumps an impossible workload on you can be hell on earth.

Betty had a new boss who heaped projects on her. She was frantic and started having migraine headaches.

She finally decided to set limits. She listed everything he’d assigned her and how long it would take. Then she told him she couldn’t to do it all and asked what he wanted to drop, delay or re-assign.

Predictably, he said it was all equally important, had to be done right away and only she could do it. She countered with her idea of priorities. He retorted with different ones. She left that difficult meeting with a tough but doable set of goals.

But that wasn't the end of Betty’s struggle. Her boss would repeatedly attempt to overload her and she would have to confront him all over again. It wasn't easy, but it was better than trying to do it all.

To cover herself in terms of her performance review, Betty did a monthly report detailing what she’d done, how many hours she’d worked, what she'd dropped or delayed and why. To her surprise, she got a positive review and a small raise.

But what if her boss had given her a bad review? She would have had to go to her boss’s boss. And if that hadn’t worked, Betty probably would have needed to look for another job.

When all else fails, the only way to prevent being grossly overloaded, if you have a manager who can’t set priorities, is to be willing to walk away.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Anna Navarro

Anna Navarro


Anna Navarro is the founder of Work Transitions, a nationwide organization dedicated to helping individuals find satisfaction and fulfillment in their work.


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