transcript of “My Team is Overworked – and I’m the Boss”

This is a transcription of the Ask a Manager podcast episode “My Team is Overworked – and I’m the Boss.”

Alison: I hear from a lot of people who feel overworked — that they’re expected to work unreasonable hours and their workload is just unmanageable. Today’s guest is approaching this issue from the other side. She’s a manager whose team seems to be working too much and she’s wondering how she can help them get it under control and work fewer hours. Hi and welcome to the show.

Guest: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Alison: So you wrote to me and you said you’re a somewhat new manager at a nonprofit and you found that the dominant culture on your team is one where people work all the time, despite your attempts to help people manage their workloads. You’re seeing people routinely working during vacations, even when someone else has been assigned to take care of their email for them, and you see other people just never taking any time off at all. Is that basically the situation?

Guest: That’s pretty much it.

Alison: And you mentioned that you’re new to the job. When did you come on board?

Guest: So now I’ve been here a year. I still feel new is the strange part, I think because my team as a team predates me and our colleagues who work at our worksite abroad all predate me by many years. And so I still, I think, feel like I’ve walked into a situation that exists outside of my control.

Alison: That makes perfect sense. Okay. And in your email to me, you wrote, “I’d like to help change the culture, but I can’t figure out if I’m being ineffective, if I’m battling personalities that overwork feeds like workaholics, people pleasers and over committers, if they really are too overworked to find balance, or if I am somehow creating an environment that reinforces the tendency to overwork while paying lip service to wanting balance.” I will add one more possibility to that list. It could be that the broader culture of your organization puts pressure on people to work crazy hours — or that the last manager on this team before you came in did, and so people don’t really believe that they can and should shift gears.

Guest: I think that’s a big problem.

Alison: Tell me a little bit about the broader culture of the organization beyond just your team. Are you seeing that kind of behavior on other teams as well?

Guest: I am. So we’re the only team in this country and everyone else is six hours ahead of us. We’re a small group and the people abroad are a very big group and they work all the time. They work at our work site with our clients, and some of them live there so they don’t have a break. I mean, they get time off, but in the regular 24-hour cycle, they’re working or in that space all the time. The other thing that I think we see is that because we’re all very mission-driven people and our mission feels urgent, there is this sense that if you can do something, you will do something because you care about the mission and you want to better the lives of our clients as much as you can. And in addition, I think the broader culture is also impacted by the time difference. That because so many of our working hours don’t overlap, there is an impulse to want to be available when your colleagues are.

Alison: I think the thing that you’re identifying about mission-driven nonprofits is probably a huge part of this. I spent my whole career in nonprofits and I know exactly what you’re talking about. When you feel like you’re doing very important, crucial, urgent work, it’s hard to say, “Well, it’s 5 o’clock, I’m going to stop working for today,” when you know that if you did put in more work, you could have a real impact on people’s lives or on an issue that you care deeply about. It’s hard to work what other people would consider regular hours in that context and especially, I mean, nonprofits fall prey to this all the time. It can very quickly become that that is the culture there and people can start to feel like if they don’t work those sorts of hours, that they either are less committed or they’ll look less committed and they’ll be judged for it. Whether or not they really would be judged for it — I mean, in many organizations they would be, but I think there are also ones where they wouldn’t be — but it’s hard to know which one you’re in.

Guest: Yes, I agree with you and I think that it becomes a way of proving it to yourself, and I think that’s part of it too, the thing that we tell ourselves about working in a nonprofit and being paid less because you work in a nonprofit, you make up for it in meaning and so you want that meaning to be as big as it can be. It drives itself somehow that way too.

Alison: Yeah, and I think working on an important issue day in and day out can take over your life in some ways. I used to work for an animal protection charity where we were dealing with animal suffering and animal abuse and that gets into your head and it stays there all the time. It’s hard to get the balance right and feel like you’re fulfilling your moral obligations, even though if you had a regular job, you wouldn’t question if you were fulfilling your moral obligations by going to work at a bank and then coming home at 6 o’clock.

Guest: Yes. Yeah, I think it’s really, it’s difficult. You get so much meaning from it, you get so much worth. And then you always know, like you can see the gaps. You can see, “If I had done this better, we would have gotten this money. If I had done this better, the clients would have felt this.” And those are tangible and they can haunt you in a way. And I think that drives it.

Alison: Yes, absolutely. Well, let me ask you this: do you have a sense from your own boss and from management of the organization above you in general, is there room — if you were able to get through to your team members and actually succeed in getting them to work more reasonable hours — is there room for the organization to be okay with it? Or is your sense that maybe that would make waves?

Guest: That’s a great question. I think for some of my staff, there could be room for that. I mentioned in my letter that we recently grew our team, and part of the reason we did that is that we had work that needed to be done, new work, and I said to my board essentially that our existing person who gets everything dumped on them, couldn’t get anything else dumped on them, and that if we were going to take on this project, we needed to hire for it. And they heard me and they hired for it. And so I was able to get the organization to make space in that way. But I do think there are limits to that. In sort of a day to day way, do I think that our colleagues overseas are going to stop having needs at 5:00am our time? No. That’s just the nature of the beast. And I don’t know if I can convince my staff that it’s okay not to wake up at 6:00am to check your phone when you don’t need to be getting up until seven.

Alison: Yeah. Well the fact that they did respond with more staffing is a really good sign, because a lot of organizations wouldn’t have. So that’s good, that indicates there is some degree of reasonable awareness at least — but I’m sure you’re right, that there are limits to that. I mean, that’s the financial reality for most organizations is that there will be limits to that. Let me ask you this: you’re talking about people needing things at 5:00am your time — do they? I mean, is it urgent that they get a response then? What would happen if they didn’t?

Guest: This is something I think about a lot. Sometimes they do need a response then and sometimes they’re writing it because they have the moment in their workday to write it. And we have to be able to triage, right? We have to be able to say, “This is urgent and you need me to do this now,” or “I know something urgent is going on. I’m going to make sure I check my phone at 11:30 before I go to bed, or wake up early to check my phone because of this specific time sensitive need.” But most of the time it’s not those things. And I think recognizing that is really important. And I also want to encourage a little bit of self- reliance on the part of some of my colleagues overseas, and that we don’t always have the answer here and if it’s the middle of the night, unless it’s a truly urgent matter, they shouldn’t expect to get an answer from us. And that’s not because I don’t want to be available when they need me. It’s more because I don’t always know that it’s a need. There’s somehow been a culture of learning to rely on us for certain kinds of information, as opposed to feeling secure in your knowledge base yourself. We’re the fundraisers and they’re the program people, but they know about both sides.

Alison: That makes perfect sense. Do you trust your colleagues overseas? If you were to explain to them, “Hey, we have people who aren’t getting sleep because they’re getting up at 5:00am our time because they’re worried you might need something,” would you trust them to hear that context and to say… Let me actually back up and tell you what I’m thinking. I wonder in this case if there is a way for you to have them channel urgent stuff differently. If there could be a particular phone number or a particular email address that is for middle of the night urgent stuff, and I wonder if you would trust them to have the right judgment to decide what needs to go there and what doesn’t. Because if you could trust them to do that, you could set up a channel that is just for truly urgent stuff and you could even have that set to wake someone up if it needed to. Or you could have like one person who was charged with checking it for everyone, who maybe agreed to work those hours, like a different sort of shift almost. But to make that work, you would have to trust that your overseas colleagues would use it appropriately.

Guest: I think this is a really great question. What I think I would love to do, just listening to what you’re saying, is to say essentially: “When it’s urgent, Whatsapp me and I’ll make sure my Whatsapp notifications are always on.” The qualm I would have about doing that is that my boss is one of our overseas colleagues. Our executive director is based overseas and while he doesn’t think I should do what he does, he only sleeps a handful of hours per night. And so I’m even hesitant to say to him, “Do you mind not emailing me from these hours to these hours because I want to sleep,” when I know he doesn’t. But I know he works himself way too hard and he doesn’t want me to do to myself what he does to himself. But you know, I understand how overwork happens, right? I see the tendencies in myself to not want to make waves there too.

Alison: It might be that you actually need someone on your staff who works a weird schedule who can handle those nighttime things. I don’t know enough about the context to know, but I don’t want the solution to be that we just move the whole burden over to you. But I do think there’s probably something there that if you just have a specific emergency channel and people know to use that, then they can go on emailing you just like normal. But then the other piece of this is that you have to convince your staff to stop waking up at 5:00 a.m to check their email, but part of that will be that they know that emergencies are getting handled through this other channel.

Guest: Right, I think you’re definitely onto something there. That if we said Whatsapp is going to be our emergency means of contact, that we would turn our notifiers off on our email or turn the ding off on our email and trust it after a period of time. And I do think some of my staff would respond to that and would trust it. One of my new staff was getting emails on the weekend and — it was really nice — was new enough to this world that she said to me, “What do you want me to do when I get emails from this person on the weekend?” And I said, “Don’t respond to them until Monday.” She said okay, so she trusted that. I think some of my older staff, my existing team from when I came in, would would have a little more trouble trusting the limitations.

Alison: Yeah, and sometimes it takes seeing it working for people to begin trusting it, so it might mean that you have to do a lot of coaching and reinforcing on the system for the first few weeks — and also that you have to really talk explicitly to people about why this is okay, and also don’t assume they’ll just believe you. They might be thinking, “Yeah, you say it’s okay, but I can think of all these times that it wouldn’t have been okay.” And so it might really help to walk through a bunch of concrete situations — to say to them, “Let’s think back to the last three months. What sorts of things came up that would have been a problem if we were handling our workflow this way?” And then talk those through. And if you can talk those concrete worries through with them and say, “Okay, well in that situation, here’s how we would handle that now,” that might be really key in putting some of their fears to rest.

Guest: I think that’s a great idea. And I think that also might be how I try to handle the checking email on vacation behavior — which look, a person wants to check in their email once a day on vacation, I’m not really gonna fight that, that’s in some ways their decision. But I’ve had more egregious problems with that, where I had a staff member who was gone for a few weeks on a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was checking that staff member’s email while they were gone, and this was the agreed upon response, and I was in the mailbox and I saw emails moving around around me and going read and unread. And I knew they were in there. And on the one hand I thought, “You have a really special opportunity. I really wish as a person in your life that you would have this opportunity to enjoy it. But also I’m spending my work time trying to do some of your work, and you doing it as well is not actually a good use of anybody’s time.”

Alison: Yeah. Did you ever have any version of that conversation with them when they got back?

Guest: Yeah. So when they got back, I focused more on the first one — I was very new at this point, I had been the manager six weeks — and I really focussed on, I’m hoping to build some kind of work-life balance in here and it’s really important to me that when you’re gone you have the ability to be gone and it’s important for all these reasons, including burnout and including your mental health and the fact that you’re a very valued staff member and I want to keep you as long as I can, and I can’t do that if you’re going to end up feeling burnt out or overburdened by work. But I think the second part about staff time didn’t really occur to me until I’d been working with them longer and realized that there was some duplication of efforts there. And I haven’t had that conversation, now that I think about it, and that might be a better avenue because it doesn’t appeal to their personhood, right? It appeals to their worker identity, which is so strong anyway.

Alison: I think that is worth saying. I mean, I wouldn’t go back if this happened a year ago, obviously. But if it happens again, definitely. And also you could say it preemptively. If someone is going on vacation and you know that they’re likely to have that tendency, you could say, “I know that you’re really dedicated and you might be tempted to do this. Here is a reason that I’m asking you not to.” So it might be interesting to say that ahead of time. The other thing I think you can do is maybe — it’s funny, I always tell people to take this approach when they’re talking to their manager when they want something from their manager and they’re worried the manager won’t agree — I always say ask for a limited time experiment because that’s easier to get a yes to. And I think there’s a version of that that could work for you here too. Which is that I think you might have better luck if you say to someone who’s about to go on vacation, who you know is a workaholic, you could talk about all the reasons why this is important and then you could say, “I know this might not be a permanent change that you want to make. I want to ask if we can do it as an experiment this time because I think we can find a way to make it work. Will you agree to see this trip as an experiment and that we can see how it goes when you’re back?”

Guest: I think that’s a great idea. I could definitely do that.

Alison: It’s so much easier for people to commit to that than to commit to what might feel like a really fundamental change in the way that they relate to work.

Guest: That’s true.

Alison: I want to go back to something you said earlier about your boss never sleeping, because I can understand why that would unsettle you a bit. And even if your boss has been very explicit about not expecting that of you, our bosses model stuff for us and that’s hard. My strong suspicion is that if you have seen evidence in other ways that your boss is a reasonable person, that they probably do not in fact expect you to only sleep three hours a night too. But I think if you’re ever feeling weird about it, you could tackle that head on. You could say, “I’ve been thinking about these workload issues on my team. I’m trying to find ways to make sure that people are actually coming to work well-rested because I want them not burning out and I want to be able to retain people in the long term and have them doing their best work.” You might not even need to explain all that. It might be obvious. But if you feel like in your culture, you need to explain it, do. And then you could say, “It hasn’t escaped my notice that you sleep hardly at all and sometimes I worry that it will make me or other people on our team feel like they don’t really have standing to say, ‘Hey, I really need a full night’s sleep.’ And I just want to check that with you and make sure that I’m being crazy in thinking this.” And I suspect you will get reassurance.

Guest: I suspect so as well. And I hadn’t thought until you said that about the impact that his schedule and his habits probably have on my team, even though they’re insulated both by distance and now by me. Because for a long time, in the absence of my predecessor, they were not reporting to him but working more closely directly with him, and I bet his habits and his needs had a strong impact on them. And I know you raised this at the beginning, but I think you’re probably right — I don’t mean to sound surprised — that probably had an impact on the culture here too. And it also reminds me, frankly, and this is something I wonder about — I know as a manager, it’s important to model what you want your staff to do. And I try to. I stick very firmly to when I leave every day, in part because I have a small child, but I do work in the evenings and I have told my team explicitly, “I have to work sometimes in the evenings. I have a little bit of a shorter day because I have to be able to do daycare etc. If you need accommodations of these kinds, I’m happy to work with you on them too. But if you get an email from me at night, it’s just because I’m getting the work done. I do not expect you to respond to it.” But I wonder about the impact of those emails on them. And so I’ve tried to say something similar about the mode of communication — that if I send you a text in the evening (though it’s not actually texting but some kind of message in the evening), that’s how I”ll communicate something urgent, but please don’t respond to or feel that I am asking you to respond to email. But it’s a complicated situation because I do have to get that work done to get my work done and as the head of this office that just is my responsibility, but I don’t want it to trickle down to my team. And when we’re in busy periods of time and I am working a number of nights during the week, I worry about that impact.

Alison: I used to send emails to my staff really late at night, like 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., because I am just a weird night owl and I am just highly productive at strange hours. And it took me a long time to realize that I was freaking people out because they were getting work emails from me at 2:00 a.m. And I did two things. I started being much more explicit with people, just as you have, that I’m just up and working then because that’s my choice, but I’m certainly not expecting anyone to respond before they get into the office the next morning. But also I had to start saving them as drafts and sending them the next morning. Because some people just never believe it, I think, regardless of what you say. So there might be some workarounds like that. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense for the work, especially if you’re working with people in lots of different time zones, you might not be able to wait to send the email and you might need to send it then. I think probably for you it’s going to be just a lot of explicit talking to people and reminding them and if you are really reinforcing it — you know, if it’s one conversation they might think “Yeah, okay, maybe,” and then promptly forget about it. But if you’re reinforcing it, if you’re talking about it on an ongoing basis — I mean, not every day that’s going to be weird — but on an ongoing basis and it’s coming up and you’re reminding people, I think it will start to feel more real. And the other thing I would say is, I would lay all of this out for your team and just talk to them about it and say, “Here’s what I’m seeing. These are the reasons that I know are in play.” You don’t want to sound obviously like you’re completely out of touch — you want to make it clear you do recognize that this is the culture and there are all of these pressures on them, but that your sense is still that even within that context, people are too connected to work when they don’t need it to be. And ask for their input about what might help because there might be obstacles to solving this that you don’t even realize. And hearing their perspective would probably be really helpful.

Guest: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. I don’t know that I’ve done that enough lately. I think one of the things that has made me worry about it, coming into an already existing structure and culture is that, what if their jobs are just a lot harder than I realized and it’s really taking them this amount of time? In which case, are they going to tell me that? Are they going to be upfront about it? Are they going to end up feeling bad or inefficient about the way they’re doing their work? There’s a point at which I start to worry about looking like I don’t know what their lives are like and actually not knowing what their lives are like.

Alison: When you say people are working long hours, what kind of hours are we talking about? In an average week, what do you think people are working?

Guest: It’s hard for me to actually know because I do leave the office because I have to, so I don’t always know when they leave. But I have, for example, a staff member who basically doesn’t have internet at home, it just is a very bad connection, and I will regularly get emails from him at 7:30 at night. And I realize that if you work in consulting, the idea 7:30 at night is joyous, but if you work for a nonprofit and you’re making what you make at a nonprofit and you’re doing this regularly and also not taking any of your paid time off, this is a problem. Or at least I feel like it’s a problem. I have another staff member who I think starts working her work week on Sunday morning every weekend and I’m getting emails from 6:00am to 10:30am off and on, on the weekdays.

Alison: Okay. I think one of the issues that you want to get a handle on here is, is the workload forcing them into this and do they legitimately feel like if they pull back they would miss deadlines and important things would go undone? Because if that is the case then the solution isn’t just telling them, “Hey, work less.” In that case, you would have to take a bigger picture look at the workload and figure out: do you need to cut projects? Do you need to bring in more staff? Do you need to backburner things? There would need to be some solution that’s outside of their control, but hopefully is in your control. So it might be worth sitting down individually with people, or at least the ones — like definitely the person who seems to be working all day Sunday  — at least the ones where you think that the problem seems the most pronounced. And explain that you are concerned about how high the workload seems to be and that you want to get a more nuanced understanding of exactly what’s on their plate so that you’re better able to figure out solutions. And then maybe have them walk you through what’s going on at a pretty nitty-gritty level. So maybe ask them to walk you through what they’re juggling this week and how long things are taking and why. When you do it, you want to be careful not to put people on the defensive. You don’t want them to feel like you’re questioning whether they’re efficient enough or not. So you need to be really explicit that you’re seeking to understand. It’s not a Gotcha. You’re not looking for a problem with the way that they work. But if you get really into the weeds, I think you’ll be better equipped to judge, “Oh yes, this is just an insanely high workload,” or maybe it’s not. But you also might realize when you do that, that there are some obvious places where you could cut back. To give you an example of what I mean, if you really dig into it, you might realize someone is putting hours every week into something that actually doesn’t need to be that high of a priority, or that they’re putting hours into getting something perfect when they could put in 20% of the time and have it be good enough, but maybe they don’t know that because it’s never been discussed. Or you might find there’s some kind of system problem, like maybe someone can’t move something forward until they get input from another team and that other team is constantly a roadblock. Or who knows. We can’t predict it, but I think if you dig in with an eye toward thinking about whether things have to be done the way they’re happening now or whether there might be shortcuts that would be okay for people to take, or even whole projects that could be put on the backburner temporarily or forever. Or you might come away thinking, “Okay, yeah, this is a really insanely high workload and there aren’t any obvious easy ways to lighten anyone’s burden here.” But even that last thing, that’s the hardest one to handle, but that at least tells you the solution isn’t that I just keep nudging people to work less. The solution has to be something that you’re working out with your management.

Guest: Right.

Alison: I think if you do that, you’ll come away with more information about what’s going on. And also that’s a good time to ask people for input too, and you might even ask them whether they can identify places where they or other people can be cutting back — because they might have opinions that they’ve kept to themselves about a program not having much impact or not being worth the energy that gets put into it, or a process being really onerous that maybe the old manager didn’t want to change and so everyone’s just kept doing it, or who knows what. But I think having those conversations and explicitly asking for that can maybe draw some of that out. If there is anything like that.

Guest: I think that’s a great idea. That’s not something I had thought of, about are there places they see that can be simplified or that aren’t having impact? And I do think that just because of the particularities of our situation, it took them many months to trust that when I said, “I’m concerned about the amount you’re working,” it wasn’t in any way having to do with their performance or that I wasn’t luring them into a trap where I was going to yell at them. But I think I’ve been here long enough now that they feel a little more secure. And so this might be a good time to start having those conversations.

Alison: Yeah, I like that a lot. And I think also it might be, there’s so many things that could be at play here and I think you’re going to get to most of them if you do this kind of really digging into it, but another one could be, and this is so common and nonprofits where there’s this ethos of if something seems like a worthy project, let’s just find a way to fit it in. So you could have a team of horribly overworked people who aren’t saying no to anything new that comes up because, their plate is full, something new comes up, it feels like it would be worthy and have a valuable impact. And so they just take it on without looking for, “Well, what are we going to cut to make room for this?” That happens in every sector, but oh my God, it happens in nonprofits so much. So you might need to do some work on resetting your team’s culture in that regard, and training people that when they or your team as a whole is taking on something new, you talk about where the time for it is going to come from. That the assumption isn’t just, oh, you’ll pile this on top of the already overwhelming pile that you already have. That you’ll talk about what to cut or what to push back to make room for it. And that is something that very much has to come from you. They’re going to have to see you asking that question every time, and then backing it up by actually helping them cut things so that they know that you really mean it and it’s not just lip service.

Guest: Yes, I agree so much and I’m just thinking about the once or twice where I’ve had someone say to me, one of my team members say, “Can you help me figure out how to prioritize this?” And I see that as this window into, “I don’t know how I’m going to get this done. How do you want to get this done? What do you want me to not do?” So I do this — which I think is great, that someone’s coming and saying that to me — but I think I probably do need to give that opening a lot more. And I think that was the beauty of having this new staff member start who was able to take projects off our, let’s say our most burdened team member.

Alison: Yeah. And I might even start, just make a little note for yourself that every time something new comes up that someone is taking on, maybe for the next few months say to them, “What do we need to cut to make room for this? Or what do we need to push back to make room for this?” Because they might not even give you the opening on their own because they might not even be thinking that that is a possibility.

Guest: Yeah, I think that’s true. I think the expectation and just the feeling around here, especially because how mission-driven we are, is: if this is a thing we need to do to make possible what we need to make possible for the clients, then we’ll find a way to do it. And I know that I’m not always as good as I could be about modeling that in my own workload. And I think I do it a good deal of the time, but I think for my own insecurities or whatever reason, I don’t do it all at the time that I should, to my boss or to my board. And so giving them explicitly the opportunity is going to be important.

Alison: Yeah. And I think too, I mean we all sort of inadvertently fall into this thing where we assume that if someone is asking us to do something, they must expect us to make the time. And they must know all the other things that are on our plate, and if they’re putting this on there too, we’re just expected to handle all of it. But so often we train people to think that because we don’t speak up.

Guest: Right, right. I agree.

Alison: Is it helpful to talk about if you do take a look at this and you realize, “Oh, it’s just an insanely crushing workload and there isn’t a lot that people can do about it.” Is it helpful to talk a little bit about what to do if that is what you realize?

Guest: Yes, because I think that might be the case in at least one situation.

Alison: Okay. So if you do what we were talking about earlier, you sit down with people, you have them really walk you through this week or this month and you try to really get a feel for how much time does stuff take. And you take out all the stuff where you realize, “Oh, here’s an inefficiency, we can cut this out.” And then you’re left with still this whole pile of work. I think ideally you would do that for everyone on your team or close to everyone on your team so that you have this whole long list of all the stuff that has to be done and roughly how much time stuff takes. I would take that information and then I would write out a reasonable work allocation for each people. So taking all the stuff from that big pile of work and assigning to each person, in order of how important things are, each of those items and then stop when each person has a list that represents a full workload. So maybe for you guys, it’s not 40 hours a week, maybe it’s 45, maybe it’s 50, I don’t know what number it is that you want to get to, but it’s probably less than what it is now. Whatever that number is, stop your list when each person’s is full and then see what is leftover. And if you have a bunch of stuff left over that did not fit on anyone’s plate, and I suspect that you will, then there is your list of the stuff that your team doesn’t actually have time to do but is cramming in anyway, and there’s your problem. At that point you could reshuffle some of the things on that list. You could take some things off and put some things on. You could decide that some are going to come off the list altogether, but at some point you might need — and I suspect you will find that you’re probably at this point — you would need to bring your own boss into the conversation. If you were contemplating cutting things entirely or if you’re realizing, okay, if we’re going to do all this, we need more people to get it done. That’s the point where you’d bring your own boss in. But when you did that, you would have this very stark written illustration of what the problem was. So it wouldn’t just be this amorphous, “Oh, people feel overworked.” It would be, “Here’s what people can get done in 45 hours a week and here’s all the stuff that is still happening on top of that.”

Guest: I think that’s incredibly helpful.

Alison: Good. Well, so do you feel like you have some next steps to try to tackle this?

Guest: I do. I feel like I have a couple great next steps. Thanks for talking that through with me.

Alison: Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Guest: It was great to be here. This was a really helpful conversation.

Alison: Thanks for listening to the Ask a Manager podcast. If you’d like to come on the show to talk through your own question, email it to – or you can leave a recording of your question by calling 855-426-9675. You can get more Ask a Manager at, or in my book Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work. The Ask a Manager show is a partnership with How Stuff Works and is produced by Paul Dechant. If you liked what you heard, please take a minute to subscribe, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Play. I’m Alison Green and I’ll be back next week with another one of your questions.