Epiphanies for Everybody

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Your workload is not an indicator of your value

November 11, 20222 min read

Your workload is not an indicator of your value

It would be wonderful if it were always true — that a heavy workload always happened because your boss thought you were competent, valuable, helpful, or otherwise saw you in a positive light. Sadly, that’s not the case.

There are many things that a heavy workload can mean. Most of them are systemic, and have no connection to your relationship with your manager.

What else it could mean:
1. The business doesn’t have a clear direction

2. Multiple people are prioritising things, meaning multiple “#1 priorities”

3. Your boss is overloaded

4. Your boss doesn’t care about your workload

5. Your organisational culture doesn’t value time to think

6. Your organisation rewards starting work, not finishing it

7. You’re seen as an order-taker. The thinking happens elsewhere, and you just deal with the results

8. Another department has convinced a boss somewhere in the hierarchy that some part of what should be their job should be done by somebody else, but the company doesn’t want to hire more people

9. The company is too cheap to hire enough staff for the work they want done

10. The company has money problems and can’t staff adequately

11. Someone in your team left, and you picked up the slack, resulting in you working extra hours, while the company decided that burning you out is better than paying another salary.

It’s always worth remembering that the system (re: environment) in which you work has a huge impact on your experience of it, including your relationships with people around you, and your ability to focus on getting your work done.

A system that cares about your wellbeing won’t overload you. It won’t put you under duress. It won’t coerce you. It won’t do things that encourage you to work weekends, or long hours. It won’t burn you out. And if you end up in a situation where you’re overloaded, a system that has been built by people who care about the people in it will respond by lightening your load, so you can do your best work.

Bottom line: a heavy workload is more likely to be a result of incompetence, indifference, or malice, than it is to be caused by somebody who thinks you do great work and respects your accomplishments.

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