Saying no at work is hard, especially when you are early in your career or you are really passionate about what you do. Often there is a huge amount of guilt attached, questioning whether you are a team player or not wanting to let your manager down.
But learning when to say no is one of the most important skills to learn in the workplace. Not only does it protect you from being overworked and taken advantage of, but it also helps protect the passion and drive you have for your job. Too often, eager employees are cursed with saying yes to everything, leading them to be exhausted, frustrated, and resenting the job they once loved.
Other times, you may find yourself subject to poor management or unethical behavior if you are asked to complete a task that you know you shouldn’t be doing. Saying no sets a strong boundary with the asked and reinforces that their request is wrong.
Below are some scenarios where you should say no at work and how to do it.
The task interferes with your actual responsibilities
Before saying no to a task, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your actual responsibilities. Review your job description, talk to your manager about priorities, and ask for clarification if needed. Make sure you’re not simply hesitant to take on a new task because it’s unfamiliar or challenging.
How to say no: I would love to help, but I don’t have the capacity at the moment.This response acknowledges the request while also setting a boundary. It’s important to be honest about your workload and priorities, and to avoid overcommitting yourself. This response also shows that you’re willing to help in the future when you have more capacity…..
Workplace communication is the process of exchanging information and ideas, both verbally and non-verbally between one person or group and another person or group within an organization. It includes e-mails, videoconferencing, text messages, notes, calls, etc. Effective communication is critical in getting the job done, as well as building a sense of trust and increasing productivity.
Workers may have different cultures and backgrounds, and may expect different ways of working and understanding how things should be done within an organization’s workplace culture. To strengthen employee cooperation and avoid missed deadlines or activity that could affect the company negatively, effective communication is crucial. Ineffective communication leads to communication gaps, which causes confusion, wastes time, and reduces productivity.
Managers and lower-level employees must be able to interact clearly and effectively with each other through verbal communication and non-verbal communication to achieve specific business goals. Effective communication with clients also plays a vital role in the development of an organization and the success of any business. When communicating, nonverbal communication must also be taken into consideration. How a person delivers a message has a large impact.
Another important aspect of effective workplace communication is taking into consideration the different backgrounds of employees. “While diversity enriches the environment, it can also cause communication barriers. Difficulties arise when a coworker’s cultural background leads him or her to think differently than another. It is for this reason that knowing about intercultural communication at work and learning how to treat others without offending them can bring several benefits to the company.
Workplace communication can be more than the transmission of facts and direct expectations. This communication can be about the forming of relationships amongst the staff and stakeholders, i.e. those inside or outside the organization that are affected in some way by the organization (a simple example would be stockholders). The communication that builds relationships can form or be affected by organizational culture
For most business owners, the saying “one step forward, two steps back” sounds miserable, but in many cases, taking a step backward can propel you forward and actually change your life for the better.
As an entrepreneur, you have responsibilities outside work. These might include providing for your family’s needs, teaching your children values and growing your relationships. It’s a lot to manage, especially when you’re bogged down fixing issues in your business or exhausted from overwork.
If your business demands so much time that it becomes the obstacle that keeps you from doing the things you’ve always said you wanted to do, it can leave you feeling defeated and depleted, no matter how “successful” you are.
Business owners who feel stuck in their business must first create systems. These systems not only benefit you and your family. They benefit the people in your business and can fuel the growth of your business like wildfire when implemented properly.
My company recently walked a client through this process. I hope following this process will be transformative for your business and life, as well. The client and his family lived a life that from the outside would seem normal. They would take a vacation once per year and go out to dinner once or twice per week.
They would spend as much time together as they could, but something was missing, causing him and his family to suffer because of it. As a business owner, you can likely relate to this story. Things are going well enough — but not great. It’s not what you envisioned your life looking or feeling like.
Our client was a reliable and diligent business owner. He showed up when he said he would. His attention to quality fed his business so he got most of his business through word of mouth. In fact, he would have to turn business away because he was too busy. So, where’s the problem?
The problem was that he was the business. He had a couple helpers working for him, but it was just one small crew. If he couldn’t schedule something on his personal calendar, it couldn’t get done. He came to us looking to outsource his accounting. It was his first step to buy time back.
Over a few calls, he opened up about how much he hated his current business situation, so I asked him, “Why don’t you do what you did with your accounting and unload more of the workload and responsibilities in other parts of your business?”
The first step is always the hardest, because oftentimes, it’s a step back. Most business owners know that if they can start delegating in more areas of their business, they will be able to do what they want. They can live a life of financial freedom and time freedom. They can create more memories with their family and take back control of their life.
After some review, I explained to our client that he would easily qualify for equipment financing with little upfront capital. This would mean he could hire another crew, doubling his ability to serve his customers.
The key to duplicating yourself is duplicating the systems and processes that allow for quality of work to remain high. For most, this is the biggest step back. You see margins drop and your time expenditure temporarily increases. It is predictably more chaotic and uncomfortable.
On the other side of that hard work, though, is a fully operating replica of your workmanship without you doing the work. For people like the client above, this means not having to turn down jobs or work overtime. You can then duplicate your craftsmanship as needed to service growing business inquiries.
To do so, there are a couple of steps you can take in your business to help ensure it stays healthy as you grow. First is ensuring you have a personal runway: Lower margins will mean less available money for you as the owner. Be ready for this with your own finances by not making any large personal purchases that will overextend you before scaling. This should be obvious but can get you into trouble if you’re expecting to be able to pay yourself more in the beginning of the scaling process.
If you’re financing equipment and hiring more crews, your monthly expenses will increase drastically. Be prepared for this by ensuring you have a full pipeline. Make sure you allocate some of your budget to ramp up your marketing, and pay attention to the number of projects you earn from word-of-mouth referrals so you can estimate how many leads you’ll get per project your first team accomplishes.
Also, ensuring you have a lead generation system in place that you can dial up or dial back is key. Not just relying on word of mouth but having an avenue of getting leads through paid ads and understanding how much those leads generally cost and how many convert to customers will also allow you to have more security in scaling. It will feel less risky and you’ll have a feeling of investing your money into your future instead of risking the future of your company trying to build it bigger.
Eventually, you will be able to fully step back and own the business instead of being owned by the business. But how? Create leaders from within your organization. Train them to take ownership of their work by incentivizing with bonuses tied to profit earned and created. Create bullet-proof standard operating procedures that allow high-quality work to be replicated on every job. Invest in your team members’ success so they’ll invest in yours.
What happened with our client? Within 18 months, he has four crews and only has to work 20 hours a week doing the creative stuff he prefers. The best part? It’s attainable for you, too, if you are willing to take the leap of stepping back to skyrocket your business growth.
Entrepreneurship is a challenging endeavor that requires a lot of effort and dedication. Entrepreneurship is full of times when stress and pressure come into play, but most entrepreneurs will only show the sales and hundreds of orders. Nobody shows the slow months, disputes, rude customers and difficult vendors, lost packages, delayed shipments and long work days. In reality, entrepreneurs are forced to overwork, experience doubt and worry about getting consistent sales.
Keeping up with the demands of running a business is difficult, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. A correct approach can make it easier for you to run a “small” business and make it happen! This article will discuss a few solutions that can help you to manage pressure and stress in running your business. Let’s dive in!
1. Have a positive attitude
A positive attitude is one of the most important traits of a successful entrepreneur. A positive attitude towards work, customers and business partners is essential to achieving goals and building a successful business. Stress and pressure are inevitable in any business, but a positive attitude can help you deal with them and stay focused on your goals. A positive attitude can also help you to see challenges as opportunities, and it can also help you to stay motivated and focused on your goals. A positive attitude is not always easy, but it is worth it.
2. Find a support system
Support systems can be a helpful way of managing stress and pressure as an entrepreneur. Many people find them helpful in relieving the pressure and helping to stay organized. Many different support systems are available, so it is important to find the one most comfortable for you. Some of the most common support systems include joining an entrepreneurial community and finding a mentor.
A properly functioning support system can help entrepreneurs deal with issues without worrying about them. This can help them to focus on their business and not have to worry about the personal aspects of their life. An effective support system translates to increased individual and business productivity.
3. Maintain a work-life balance
A work-life balance is something that is often talked about but not always practiced. Many people consider work-life balance a luxury, but it’s not. With the ever-growing levels of pressure and stress in today’s society, finding a way to balance your work and personal life is more important than ever. Working too much and neglecting our personal lives can lead to much pressure and stress.
Lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, and too much caffeine can all add up over the long run and hurt our mental and physical health. Without mental and physical fitness, we may feel like we can’t succeed without putting in the extra hours, and we may start to feel overwhelmed by our work. While there are many ways to maintain a work-life balance, some of the most common methods are setting reasonable expectations, exercising, resting and maintaining a healthy diet.
4. Find a hobby
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of being an entrepreneur, consider finding a hobby to help take your mind off things. Hobbies offer a sense of relaxation, a diversion from the hectic tasks of running a business and the opportunity to share one’s creativity with others. Choosing something you’re passionate about can help reignite your enthusiasm and help you stay focused.
Many options are available when choosing a hobby, and you don’t have to be an expert to start. Just be sure to choose something you’ll enjoy, and you’ll be able to stay focused while you work. Hobbies can provide a sense of accomplishment and contribute to a sense of well-being.
5. Hire staff to help or delegate duties
Delegating duties as a way of dealing with pressure and stress can be difficult, but with the help of the right people, it can be done. When faced with high-stress levels, many entrepreneurs turn to hiring staff or delegating some of the work to other team members. This helps them take some of the load off and enables them to create time for themselves. For example, hiring an administrative assistant can help to alleviate some of the pressure and stress associated with running a business.
6. Develop an action plan
Action plans are an essential component of any successful business. They can help you deal with pressure and stress and, ultimately, increase your chances of success. With a plan in place, you can anticipate challenges and make the necessary adjustments to keep your business on track.
An action plan can help you stay on track and set goals and progress. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your plan. Make sure to consider your goals, the available resources, and the time commitment you’re willing to make.
7. Ask for help
Entrepreneurs are often lauded for their ability to go it alone. But many people don’t realize that even the most successful entrepreneurs have a team of people they can rely on for advice. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It shows that you’re willing to admit when you need help and are open to suggestions from others. Asking for help is a sign of maturity and wisdom.
There’s a psychological and physical price to entrepreneurship that simply needs to be acknowledged by every entrepreneur, both novice and experienced. Building and running a business is more stressful than you initially imagine or anticipate
There’s always the pressure of failing – as simple as that. Not every business goes well. You’re taking responsibility for a team of partners and employees. You make promises you’re not always entirely sure you can deliver. Even when you’re experiencing success, it’s not entirely a 100% sure thing. I almost shut down a business that was profitable because I didn’t count on it growing so fast.
It’s a great thing to see and experience but my cash flow deficit was nine times more than in the beginning. Once that ball starts rolling, it’s difficult to stop it. You scramble to find money and solve the problem (which is a bit absurd as the business isn’t going under) in real time, all the while taking care of your employees who are hanging by a thread of your actions.
The thing is – you can’t really shake off their pressure and incoming stress because they want to feel secure, and you project the image of that security. Even though entrepreneurs are a self-determined and intelligent bunch, many feel the profound and influencing pressure effects that the surroundings exert on them. Yet, they also feel they can’t be leaders and at the same time admit they’re struggling.
Whether as a group we are embarrassed to admit we’re vulnerable, see it as a weakness, or whatever the reason is, entrepreneurial pressure isn’t discussed nearly enough. That’s a mistake. Don’t be fooled by the successful image the leaders you look up to convey. It’s like social media – people only show the highlights. But I assure you – all entrepreneurs struggle with pressure and the sooner you address it, the faster and better you can manage it and become a better entrepreneur.
Too many times as entrepreneurs we get so focused on success that taking care of ourselves takes a backseat. Such MO takes a toll on the wellbeing of an entrepreneur. The very nature of this job is to juggle many roles while facing the constant risk of failure, various setbacks and ongoing voices in our heads and around us telling us we must succeed. And every single one of us, regardless of how experienced or inexperienced we are, face some version of these defeats along the way.
Being aware of the amount of pressure this line of work entails is an important first step in managing and mitigating the potential negative effects. For some, this is still a taboo topic despite recent efforts to popularize discussions about mental health. It shouldn’t be and we mustn’t let it be.
Dealing with pressure ultimately boils down to personal perspective and the importance you place on the task at hand. By being aware, you can prevent (or stop) sabotaging yourself and lead a healthier and more productive life and business. Will the world really end tomorrow if you don’t succeed 100% of the time? I don’t think so. And the paradox? The less stressed you’ll be, the higher your success rate.
Once you’re aware of what you’ll be likely facing down the road, it’s easier to be prepared to deal with it head-on. Learning to cope with and perform under pressure is crucial not only to be successful but also to be effective while doing it. Speaking from a competitive standpoint, you risk falling behind those who do master handling the scenarios where a major hurdle comes up. And in this often cutthroat environment, recovery will be extremely hard.
Even companies with the best intentions can sometimes take a wrong turn when trying to do right by their employees. Damaging habits and behaviors can inadvertently get absorbed into company culture; and when this happens, it can send the wrong signal about a company’s priorities and values. One of the biggest challenges lies in finding the sweet spot between business needs and employee welfare and happiness. Naturally, you want a high-performing team; but not at the expense of employee well-being and mental health.
Here, we take a closer look at some common workplace conventions—and the ways that they might be inadvertently undermining your mental health objectives.
1. Having a “hustle” culture
It’s great to be productive, but over-emphasizing hard work and profitability can be a slippery slope to toxic productivity. It can lead to individuals attaching their feelings of self-worth to the amount of work they’re doing, and feeling like performance metrics are more important than their mental well-being.
Similarly, celebrating employees who stay late—or even lightly teasing those who start late and leave (or log-off) early (or on time)—can subtly contribute to a culture of overwork and performative busy-ness. Left unchecked, this can result in resentment and burnout among other employees who feel compelled to prove their own commitment to work .
A small fix:
Instead of celebrating regular overtime, try opening up communication about ways to include breaks and downtime throughout the day. You can support this with anecdotes about the healthy mental habits of people in the team (assuming they are open to sharing). For example: “Hey guys, Dave’s found a clever way to schedule regular breaks into his day around meetings!”
Also be sure to address long hours and overwork if you see a rising trend in the company, as it could be an indicator of unachievable work expectations.
2. Sending work emails or messages after hours
It happens to us all: maybe you only received a response on something late in the day, or you had an out-of-hours brainwave.
Sending the occasional evening or weekend message is fine, but doing it regularly implies that after-hours work is expected—which could pressure people into feeling they have to respond immediately.
The same goes for emails sent at the end of a working day with next-day deadlines (or, for example, Monday morning deadlines for work given out on Friday). These practices put a hefty burden on the recipient, which adds to stress and can contribute to burnout.
Now, it gets a bit harder to draw a line when you take into account the increasingly globalized world of work, which necessitates out-of-hours communications due to different time zones. But even in these cases, it helps to be explicit about expectations when sending messages, especially when you know the recipient is either about to log off or has signed off for the day.
A small fix:
If you need to send emails after hours or on weekends, be sure to add a note about how the email can be read or dealt with on the next working day. This takes pressure off the recipient and assures them that they won’t be penalized for not responding on the spot.
If you have a global team, it also helps to establish clear working hours for different countries, and to be clear about the fact that nobody is expected to read or respond to emails out of hours.
Also, no matter where in the world you or your recipient are, be sure to schedule enough time for them to deal with the task during their office hours! And remember—they may have other pre-existing work on their plate that might need to take precedence.
3. Only engaging in “shop-talk”
It’s easy to find things to talk about around the water cooler in the office. But take those organic run-ins out of the equation, and what you’re left with is often work chat and little else.
Working from home has made it harder to bond with colleagues. The natural tendency is to get work done and to only chat about the process, rarely (if ever) about other things.
This removes a big social aspect from work, which can take a significant mental toll on employees and affect their enjoyment of work. This is especially apparent for employees who don’t already have solid work friend groups, either because they’re new or because their friends have since left the company.
A small fix:
There’s so much more to people than just who they are at work. To get some non-work conversations going, design interactions that aren’t work related.
You could set up a monthly ‘coffee roulette’ to group random employees up for a chat. This can help to break the ice a bit and link up individuals who might not otherwise speak during work hours. Or you could arrange sharing sessions where people are encouraged to talk about their challenges and triumphs from life outside the workplace.
Another alternative is to set up interest groups in the company, to help like-minded employees find each other and bond over a shared interest in certain hobbies or things.
4. Only having group chats and check-ins
Big group check-ins and catch-up meetings are important. But group settings can pressure people to put a good spin on things, or cause them to feel like they’re being irrational or weak for struggling when everyone else seems to be doing well.
This could result in problems being missed and getting out of hand, which in turn can take a big toll on mental health and well-being.
A small fix:
Some people may not be willing to speak candidly to a large group, so be sure to set aside time for employees to speak one-to-one to a manager who can address any problems that may arise. It’s also important to make sure everyone understands that they won’t be penalized or looked down on for speaking up about any issues they may be having.
5. Not talking about mental wellness
Perhaps the biggest way your company might be undermining mental health is simply by… not talking about it.
Some managers may not feel equipped to have these conversations, or may not be sure about the etiquette or convention around holding these conversations. But by not broaching these topics at all, employees may feel like they can’t speak out about things they’re struggling with.
The result is a rose-tinted veneer that may be hiding deeper problems under the surface. And studies show there likely are problems. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 employed adults in the U.S. experienced a mental health issue back in the previous year, with 71% of adults reporting at least one symptom of stress. That number has likely shot up now.
A small fix:
Be candid about mental health and encourage people to share their burdens and struggles—especially leaders. You can help by actively promoting good habits like mindfulness and meditation, proper work-life balance, and reaching out for help when necessary.
By being more honest about struggles and mental wellness challenges, managers can reduce the stigma and create a more open culture where people feel able to admit they’re struggling.
As a company, it’s important to be careful about the ripple effects that even small actions—or, in some cases, inaction—may have on employees. The simple fact is that the signals you send may be reinforcing unhealthy habits.
That’s why it’s so important to be aware of deeper currents that run in your organization and to proactively address any harmful behaviors.
By staying aware and making a few small tweaks and behavioral changes, you can hit the reset button when necessary and encourage good habits that protect employee mental wellness.
For more tips on how to build a more inclusive workplace culture that supports your employees’ mental well-being and happiness, check out:
Is Mental Health important in the workplace? Tom explores all things related to workplace mental health, including mental health in school workplaces, in this insightful video. Tom helps employers figure out mental health at work. He reviews workplaces, trains managers and writes plans. Since 2012 he has interviewed more than 130 people, surveyed thousands and worked across the UK with corporations, civil service, charities, the public sector, schools and small business. Tom has worked with national mental health charities Mind and Time to Change and consults widely across the UK. He lives in Norfolk and is mildly obsessed with cricket and camping.
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It seems like employees are busier than ever before, indeed, a paper published last year argued that business was almost a form of status. A humblebrag that we’re so important we’re over-run with work.
Indeed, a Boston University study from a few years ago found that many of us are fond of exaggerating the number of hours we work. The research found that such boasting was particularly common among men, whose bold claims of doing 80 hour weeks are often enormous exaggerations, with the reality typically more akin to 50 or 60 hours.
Let’s assume that we are actually getting busier however, rather than making it up to puff ourselves up. What impact is this having on our productivity and creativity? That was the question posed by a recent study from Columbia Business School.
The research wanted to test the hypothesis that “if you want something done, give it to a busy person,” whilst exploring the impact business has on our motivation and productivity as individuals, and then collectively as an organization.
Finding the sweet spot
It perhaps stands to reason that there will be a sweet spot for most of us whereby we reach peak productivity and fill our day with useful work, but after which our productivity plummets as our workload swamps us. That isn’t really what the researchers found however, especially when productivity was viewed through the lens of things such as missing task deadlines.
“Busy people believe that they are masters of using their time efficiency, which in turn makes them feel like productive workers,” the authors explain. “But missing a deadline is a widely-accepted sign that one has failed to manage his time efficiently, and busy people feel the burden of this failure moreso than people who are not busy, which in turn leads them to complete the missed task quickly.”
This phenomenon doesn’t really materialize in people who aren’t busy, yet who also miss a deadline. For these employees, they still have a sense of failure, but they weren’t all that motivated to complete the task on time in the first place. As such, their motivation is largely unaffected (ie still at a low level).
Using time efficiently
Even if busy people miss a deadline however, they are still convinced that they’re using their time effectively. The sense of business can be used to over-ride the sense of failure they feel from missing their deadline.
“Employers hope that all workers – whether they feel busy or not – will take immediate action to address missed deadlines. And employers are likely to expect non-busy workers to complete tardy tasks more expeditiously than busy workers, simply on account of the fact that they have more free time. But our research shows that this is not the case, and that people who feel that they missed a deadline because they were so busy are more likely to complete a task as quickly as possible,” the researchers explain.
It underlines the risks inherent in overloading employees with too much work, but this should not only be regarded as a problem for productivity and engagement however, for overwork also inhibits the innovative capabilities of employees.
A recent study explored things from the other perspective, investigating how employees behave when they don’t have enough work to do, or are under-employed. As before, the research found that there is a sweet spot. If workers have insufficient work to do, they get bored and therefore not creative, whereas if they have too much to do, they lack the free time to realize their innovative potential. Instead, there was a sweet spot whereby they felt sufficiently valued by their employer to be engaged effectively, yet had enough free time to create.
The secret for managers therefore, seems to be helping your employees find that sweet spot.For more, visit adigaskell.org.