When Being Great Isn’t A Good Thing

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By Christine Muncy, M.Ed., GCDF
Contributor, Associate Vice President of Career Services

Being skilled in many areas and picking up new processes quickly is a great asset to an organization, but it can also place you in uncomfortable situations, such as too many projects that are not directly related to your position. This can become problematic for many reasons, such as being able to appropriately prioritize work, meeting deadlines, and meeting the expectations of varying stakeholders. Finding yourself in a situation where you are sought out for tasks not entirely related to your direct responsibilities is bad news, even if you do enjoy the change in scenery. If you find yourself in this situation, address it early and quickly with your direct manager.

While there are many factors that play into how an employee should approach their manager, such as the managers preference for receiving concerns, don’t let your fears prevent you from bringing up the topic, as your failure to say something could result in poor performance reviews.

One-on-One meetings are vital to your success! Make the most of these opportunities to share, collaborate, and shine as a star employee.
Make sure your boss knows someone asked you to do, create or assist with something. There are two things supervisors do not appreciate; learning about something a direct report is doing from someone else, and colleagues (or their boss) assigning additional work when there may not be the capacity. By sharing the information with your manager, you are giving them a gift. Yes, a gift! It’s the gift of knowledge and respect. Your openness will allow them to feel closer to your projects, they will trust you more because they know you are honest and upfront about what is on your plate, and they believe you respect them enough to allow them to manage your workload (so be kind if something is removed from your plate). However, you must also do this in an appropriate setting, and toe the line of not appearing to be whining, tattling, or showing off.  

One-on-One meetings are vital to your success! Make the most of these opportunities to share, collaborate, and shine as a star employee. To do this, set-up an easy to manage process for tracking what you are working on, then use your meetings to discuss each project. There are many methods for being organized, one of which is building a list in a draft email, so that the morning of your meeting you can email it to your manager and say “This is what I have worked on since our last meeting and I wanted to discuss some of the projects with you, so I am providing them in advance just in case you needed it.” Another method is creating a list in Excel. This allows for easy tracking of the priority, due date, status, and time commitment. By taking the initiative to discuss these with your manager, you can prevent a situation where you are underperforming on what matters because you are focused in the wrong area.

There are great articles out there that address approaching your manager, and in 6 Steps to Make Your Manager’s Job Easier, specifically steps 5 and 6, are useful tips to help in this situation. While it feels good to be sought out, it won’t feel good losing your paycheck because your manager is frustrated and disappointed in your work quality. The key to success is being great at communicating with your manager.

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