How Can You Tell Your Boss You’re Overworked Without Sounding Like You’re Complaining?

Whether you’re a salaried mechanical engineer or working the third shift as a skilled tradesman, there will come a time when you will feel overworked. That’s not unusual. There are many reasons why you occasionally feel overwhelmed at your job—it could be the busy season for your company, other workers are on vacation causing you to pick up the slack, or other temporary situations.

If, however, sixty-hour workweeks have become the norm for you, it’s probably time for you to have a conversation with your boss. Suffering in silence is not the answer, and don’t wait so long that you’ve allowed a tornado to build up inside you.

It’s not an easy conversation to initiate, but, handled correctly, it can get you the results that you want. Here are four suggestions:

Control Your Emotions

Don’t sound angry or despondent during the meeting. “My workload is ridiculous” will not help your cause. Keep in mind that your boss might also be overworked, so it makes more sense to come prepared with solutions for getting work done on time instead of merely dumping another problem on her desk.

Remember, the purpose of the talk is to find answers to your problems. Don’t use it as an opportunity to vent your frustrations.

Give Your Boss Specific Examples

Give your boss a clear picture of what you’re working on, the steps and actions that are required to get the project done, and an estimate of how long it will take to finish it. With that information, you and your boss can work together to come up with ways to help you.

Share some specific examples of times when you were assigned projects on top of your usual workload. That could help your boss see how these projects overlapped and overburdened you.

Talk About Quality

Instead of blaming your manager for your heavy workload, express your concerns over the quality of your work. Let him know that you fear the quality of your work will suffer if you are continually overloaded with extra work and responsibilities.

Tell your boss how much work you feel you can handle without sacrificing quality. This type of conversation indicates that you are serious about doing a good job but find it difficult when you’re spread too thin.

Provide Alternatives

It’s now time to discuss options. Since you’ve identified the problems, you can offer some suggestions for completing your overwhelming workload:

  • Talk about deadlines: If your projects are all due at the same time, it’s no wonder you have a crushing workload. Ask your boss if any of the deadlines can be extended, and set up a new schedule.
  • Ask for help: You could be overworked because you don’t have enough support to finish your projects. Ask your boss to assign someone to assist you with some of your projects.
  • Delegate: Ask your manager if there is someone else with the skills and resources to take over one of your projects. The right person should be able to take over where you left off.

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