We all need to ask for help sometimes – even the most experienced professionals can get saddled with an enormous workload or get stuck on a problem and see other tasks mounting up. If you are overloaded at work, suffering through it in silence won’t benefit anyone – not you, your manager or the team. So, take a deep breath and consider these tips for getting through.

Pinpoint the cause and the effect

Book a future meeting with your manager and set some time aside to prepare. Try to identify the why. Are you overworked because it's a busy time of year?

Or have been asked to do more work than you can fit into the hours in the day? It might be that you are suddenly covering for a colleague on sick leave, or a ninja project is eating into the time you allocated for your daily tasks. Taking some time to determine why your workload has escalated, and finding the right words to communicate how that is impacting your performance and team deliverables is a good starting point to your discussion. 

Could you hurt your career by asking for help?

Asking for help shows strength rather than weakness. With the correct approach, it not only shows that you strive for the highest quality in your own work, but that you are also accountable and have the company's best interests at heart.  If you are in need of help, your options are broader than you think: most people, whether it’s a member of the team or a manager, will feel flattered that you’ve approached them for assistance. It shows that you place significance on their advice, and that you trust them to be helpful.

The only risk of a negative outcome if you go to your boss complaining that you can’t handle your job. Approach the situation in a way that shows you have the will to be able to do your job more effectively and the humility to ask for guidance.

Here’s how to ask your boss for help

  1. Act swiftly – the longer you delay asking for help, the worse the issue can become
  2. Be clear – identify the cause, the impact and present the information to your boss in a clear and simple way
  3. Show accountability – offer potential solutions while acknowledging the challenge

The last point is crucial: it shows that you have made a real effort to think through the issue on your own and that you’re fully invested in making the situation work for everyone.

Remember, your manager will be there to both guide you and, in the end, reward your initiative. Take a challenging workload as an opportunity to reaffirm your positive relationship with your boss and demonstrative both your responsibility as a professional and your willingness to find a solution.

Discover more tips about how to improve your working life in our advice section.

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