Management | Collins McNicholas

I don’t know how to tell my supervisor I’m overworked in my busy public relations firm

I don’t know how to tell my supervisor I’m overworked in my busy public relations firmQuestion: I’ve been working as a manager in a PR agency for five years and have really enjoyed my job until recently. In the past three months my workload – and that of my team – has dramatically increased and I am unable to get everything successfully completed. To try and finish my work, I limit breaks and frequently avoid lunch. We have gained a new contract, so I know we will all be working even harder. How can I gently bring my concerns to my supervisor? Answer: While it is positive that the PR agency you work for is busy, being chronically overstretched can quickly lead to burnout, which will negatively impact your work and your personal life. You need to develop tactics to cope with your workload in the short term, while also developing a long-term strategy to better resource your department to cope with the increased workload. Take your breaks: Research has consistently proven that those who take regular breaks away from their work are more productive in the long run. Creating some mental space from a problem can give a new perspective, remove the tension from a situation, and give you a chance to replenish your energy. The quality of the time spent at your desk is far more important than the quantity. Work smarter: Take some time as a group to list your daily tasks and examine how they are shared among your team. This exercise can highlight areas of duplication and inefficiency. For example, two people generating a very similar report but for a different purpose. Asking one person to generate a report, which serves the needs of both individuals, can reduce time spent on the task by the team. Explore the possibility of using software, shared platforms, or other IT packages. Raise your concerns: While managing your workload better may improve conditions, as new contracts are secured the pressure on your team will continue to grow. Discuss your concerns with your supervisor, outlining the challenges you are facing, as well as potential solutions. Request a one-to-one meeting and set an agenda Ensure you and your supervisor have set aside enough time and interruptions are minimal. Close the email function on your laptop and turn off your phone to avoid being distracted. Ensure your supervisor is clear regarding the purpose of the meeting. This will help ensure that you don’t deviate into the day-to-day tasks of your business but rather focus on resources. Keep the conversation positive Resist the temptation to “moan” about your workload or the performance of individual team members. Instead focus on the positive nature of the problem – the success of your organisation is such that you have more business or custom than you can manage! Outline the steps you have taken Develop a brief report regarding the steps you have taken to date. If you have allocated workload slightly differently, investigated potential improvements to efficiency, or developed processes or structures, let your supervisor know. This highlights your professionalism, as well as the extent of the issue you are facing. Put forward potential solutions If your supervisor told you that you could have access to any resources you require, what would you request? Prepare notes to present to your supervisor outlining the reasoning behind your request and the potential impact on the business. Follow up to confirm actions and timelines Prepare a summary of decisions made and actions planned. Assign each action a timeframe and indicate who is responsible for its implementation. This will provide a way forward. Continue to build your business A common mistake made by busy teams is to focus too intently on the task at hand. Remain conscious of future timelines and targets, and continue to strive to develop the business further. This will promote the success of your role, your team, and the organisation as a whole. This article was first published in the business section of The Sunday Independent on 10th of December, 2017. To view the original publication please click here.            Caroline Ward HR Services Manager Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services...

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Can Encouraging People to Take Initiative Actually be Harmful?

As organizations face uncertainty and rapid change, taking initiative or being proactive is increasingly encouraged. In the main, being proactive is beneficial for both individual employee performance as well as for organisational performance. There is one circumstance when taking initiative has a negative effect on well-being for employees – when employees are motivated by a sense of pressure and coercion at work (termed controlled motivation) without any sense of interest or identification with their work (termed autonomous motivation). This was demonstrated in a recent article by Karoline Strauss (ESSEC, France), Sharon Parker (UWA, Australia) and Deirdre O’Shea (UL, Ireland), published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior. Proactivity at work involves self-initiating change or ‘making things happen’. It requires effort and thus drains employees energy, one of the reasons why it is associated with impaired well-being.  This research demonstrated that proactive work behaviour was positively related to job strain when controlled motivation was high and autonomous motivation was also low. Under all other conditions, there was no effect of proactive behaviour on job strain. Thus, proactive behaviour has costs for employee well-being when employees experience a sense of pressure and obligation in their work in the absence of any compensating interest or identification with their work. Under these circumstances, engaging in proactive behaviour is unlikely to be sustainable in the long-term, and it could result in more extreme forms of well-being impairments such as burnout, sickness absence and turnover. There is increasing pressure on individuals to engage in proactive behaviour in order to meet the expectations of the organization. It would be wise for organisational leaders and managers to take...

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Disciplinary Procedures & Employer Liability

For the purpose of today’s article, I will briefly focus on disciplinary procedures as this is an area in which employers most often come into difficulty and furthermore is the area where there is the greatest potential liability from an employer’s perspective. Also, this is a topic in which some serious considerations were raised for employers following the Judgement in Lyons v Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board [2017] IEHC 272. The background to the abovementioned case is that an external investigator was appointed by Mr Lyons employer to investigate a bullying complaint which had been made against him. The High Court noted that the process implemented during the investigation (separate meetings and the taking of statements without cross examination) is one which is routinely adopted by many companies but went on to state that “the exclusion of solicitors and counsel, and the refusal to allow cross examination … is a breach of the Constitutional right to fair procedures.” This represented a departure from previous case law in that it apparently extended the right to legal representation to investigation meetings and further it extended rights to cross examine witnesses. In essence, on the face of it the Decision in Lyons means that once an employer engaged in an investigation of a serious matter that could ultimately lead to a dismissal, then every employee involved would be entitled to bring a lawyer to each investigation meeting and, not only that, the lawyer must have the opportunity to cross-examine each witness who is saying something about his/her client. As alluded to above, the decision in the Lyons Case represented a departure...

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How do I cope with the gaps left by staff going sick at short notice in my small team?

Question: I manage a small team in an accountancy firm. As you can imagine, this is a busy time of the year for us, but it is the time when people end up going off sick, with flu and other illnesses. It can be devastating to a small team, especially when someone phones in sick in the morning. Can you give me advice on getting cover at short notice and on how to plan for this in the future? Answer: Absence can be disruptive at work, particularly when a team is already stretched. It is important to consider both the solutions and the underlying causes in the short, medium and long term, from a tactical and strategic perspective. Analyse the data While it comes naturally to you to analyse data in your day-to-day role, perhaps you have not done the same regarding this issue. Based on the attendance data for last year, it may be possible to identify days when absences are most likely. For example, is there an increased level of absence on certain days of the week, or following particularly busy periods? Having access to this information may allow you to take a more strategic approach to your contingency worker solutions. Improve reporting At a tactical level, it may be useful to review the process by which employees notify you of an absence. The sooner you are aware of an issue, the better equipped you are to deal with the gap. Requesting employees to contact HR or their manager prior to the commencement of the working day is unlikely to have a negative impact upon the ill...

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Preparing Your Team to Cope While You Take Extended Paternity Leave

Question: I am a senior manager at an engineering firm heading a team of six. My wife is due to give birth to our first baby and I want to take time off when the baby comes. However, I’m worried about missing too much time at work and not being around to support my junior team members. How can I prepare them to work efficiently and confidently while I take extended paternity leave? Answer: Firstly, congratulations on the impending arrival of the new addition to your family – an exciting time for you. You do need to be able to have confidence that your team will continue to work effectively while you are away. Employees need guidance but also need to be empowered to make the decisions necessary to be productive, and carry out their duties, when their manager is not present. This is what you need to work on now. Managers will say they want to empower their employees, but few actually do. This can be the result of a lack of trust on behalf of the manager who may think that the employees will not perform equally as well when they are not there or fear that employees will become too independent. Some managers fear that if they let the power go, then they may not be required any longer. On the other hand, many employees are afraid to take on added responsibility and be held accountable for their decisions. Empowering employees requires a great deal of trust by a manager – they must be willing to hand over the decision-making process, and elements of a task or...

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How can I tell my sister her son is not a suitable candidate for a position in my office?

Question: Our engineering company is hiring and I am in charge of selecting interview candidates. My sister told me her son (my nephew) is applying and that he could do with the confidence boost, as he has been unemployed since finishing college two years ago. The problem is he doesn’t have any experience. How can I tell him he is not suitable without affecting his confidence? Also, what advice can I offer him? Answer: This is a very common dilemma faced by professionals, particularly in management or HR positions. It is important to consider the potential impact on your career, your reputation, your team – and your nephew. While he may receive an immediate confidence boost, gaining a role that is beyond his capability may have a more damaging effect on his esteem in the long term. Evaluate your nephew’s potential ‘fit’ for the role objectively: Encourage your nephew to apply for the role as any other candidate might. Explain that he will not receive any preferential treatment. This will allow you to consider his application objectively. Is he a potential junior option? Are there other roles that may be suitable in future? There may be aspects of your nephew’s ability that you have not witnessed as your relationship with him has been personal only. If you decide not to progress with his application, you can stand over your decision, content that you have given his application due consideration. From your nephew’s perspective, he has gained the experience of applying to a role, preparing his CV and cover letter and considering his ‘fit’ to the organisation. Provide feedback: The real...

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