In almost every line of work and any industry, it’s possible to be overwhelmed by the amount of work or projects that you have to complete. Even managers find themselves in this situation often, although they’re also frequently the ones who get their team members overwhelmed.

In these situations, it’s essential to communicate and set priorities effectively to ensure that the critical tasks aren’t lost in the sea of immediate ones. When you need to tell your manager you’re overwhelmed without saying no, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Let’s have a closer look at this problem and how to solve it on the organization level as well.

Communication of Issues

If a team member has an amount of work that is not reasonable for their role, they’re being assigned too much by their manager. It can happen due to various reasons, one of them being an inefficient delegation of work. Sometimes managers don’t remember how much they’ve assigned, so it’s important to remind them when communicating the issue.

However, there are a few other things that are critical during communication to facilitate cooperation rather than strife within the team. The overwhelmed member of the team should acknowledge the priorities of the manager, and work with them to figure out which tasks to prioritize and how to handle deadlines. It means delegating the least important tasks to someone else or delaying it until later.

If the issues are communicated and solved this way, both sides will feel heard. What’s more, neither of them will waste time chasing impossible deadlines and failing to accomplish what’s being asked. Communicating issues efficiently is going to make a big difference in the internal processes of the organization.

Organization-Wide Setting of Priorities

Even managers have a boss, so it’s entirely possible for the entire organization to be bogged down in work without communication and the effective setting of priorities. This process starts at the highest level of an organization — with the CEO, who also has accountability for the task of managing.

Only the managers have the necessary context to help team members determine their priorities. It is essential for managers not to neglect their managerial duties in addition to their regular daily workload. Every manager, on every level of the organization, should ensure that each one of their subordinate roles has a good grasp on:

  • Their priorities;
  • The delegated work for which they are accountable;
  • The authority they have to do the work;
  • The resources available to do the work;
  • What to do if they run into issues.

Organizing internal processes this way will ensure that everything fits together and that there is going to be significant synergy between different teams, all contributing to the organization’s bottom line.

Key Takeaways

Setting priorities and communicating it clearly to everyone in the organization is one of the pillars and most critical concepts of managing effectively. Here at Effective Managers, we’ve developed the Effective Point of Accountability methodology to help managers learn how to delegate work, set priorities and communicate with them in the best way possible.

Dwight is leading a 7-week (one 30 minute session per week) Flevy Executive Learning (FEL) program on effective management called Empowerment 4.0. Not sure? Check out the free 30-minute webinar of the same title. Sign up for the overview webinar here.

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