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10 Ways to Get on Top of Things at Work

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

One of my coaching specialties is working with people who are facing a setback at work. Maybe they have a new boss, are struggling with constantly changing priorities, or questioning whether they have the skills required to rise to the challenges.

A recent client (let’s call him Marcus) was referred to me by his boss (Diana) Marcus is in a newly created assistant director role. After three months on the job, he finds the work environment difficult. His workload is overwhelming, when he tries to prioritise, he doesn’t seem to get it right and deadlines are starting to be missed.

He is finding it difficult to have an impact and get himself taken seriously in a well-established team. Mostly worryingly for Marcus is Diana’s increased irritation with him – she will ask for an update on an issue, Marcus knows he has it in hand but cannot recall the detail. Diana gets annoyed is starting to question his suitability for this level of job. Marcus is working long hours, has largely abandoned his out-of-work interests, and is seriously questioning whether this is the job for him.

Diana recognises that the role is a step up for Marcus and has suggested some coaching to help him work through the challenges.

Sounds familiar? Read on for some ideas to help.

  1. What is the quality of the interactions between Marcus & Diana? She is always pushed for time so how can that scarce amount of time be used to best effect?

  2. Is Marcus clear on what is expected of him, given there is no culture of regular appraisal how can he present and agree on the top priorities as he sees them in the context of the organisation’s objectives?

  3. How does Diana like to be kept informed of progress? A summary weekly email, short briefings, verbal ad hoc updates in corridor conversations. Marcus hasn’t asked & she hasn’t said.

  4. Marcus plans to create his own simple live system/log to record current actions on the vital issues he keeps getting asked about.

  5. What is the organisational environment and culture? Is there a reason for seemingly ever-changing priorities and deadlines? What are the pressures Diana is under that she (rightly or wrongly) may be passing on to her team?

  6. What are the things that Marcus can influence directly and what are those that are worrying him, but he can do absolutely nothing about? Identify these and mentally “park them”.

  7. The team Marcus has joined has worked together for a while and he feels like the newcomer. Time and effort in conversation to build new peer relationships and networks will not be wasted. What does each of the team members require from Marcus for their work and what does he need from them? What unique skills do each bring to the team?

  8. As Marcus is struggling currently, he is forgetting all that he has achieved in the past including the times that he was happiest at work and why. A look back at these times (with your coach) can build resilience and confidence.

  9. It is worth questioning whether the approach that has proved successful for you in the past is right for the current role, or is something different required?

  10. What would Marcus say to a friend who describes the situation he currently finds himself in? Chances are Marcus would be far kinder to his friend than he is to himself.

I have found that a setback like Marcus’ can occur at any point in a career and often after a solid history of success and promotion. Sometimes people are in the wrong job for them or have an abrasive tricky manager who is unlikely to change. But in my experience as a coach practicing the suggestions above can improve things enormously.

My coaching approach uses coaching conversations to explore your issues and priorities. I have developed practical tools and techniques to help you work through your situation. I also draw on material produced by a range of current leadership and coaching experts.

Interested in seeing how I can best assist you? Wonderful! Here is the link to schedule an initial consultation.

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