How to negotiate workload limits

1.    Earn the right.
Asking for fairness in work limits is easier when you have a reputation as a hard worker. Before raising concerns, evaluate if you are truly doing more than your share.

2.    Clarify intent.

Don’t start the conversation with complaints—start by establishing mutual purpose with your boss. Begin with, “I have a concern about my workload, but I want to be clear that I care about helping our team succeed. I don’t want to request changes that will make your life harder or put our goals at risk.”

3.    Focus on facts.

Don’t start with broad conclusions or generalisations that put others on the defensive. Build the case for the point you want to make by sharing objective facts. For example, “I’ve observed that those who do their work get rewarded with more work.”

4.    Clarify boundaries.
Be clear about any hard and fast limits you have on your workload. If, for example, you have family commitments or personal time values you won’t compromise, lay those out clearly and stick with them.

5.    Propose solutions.
Don’t just come with complaints—come with recommendations for how to make this work for your boss. If you just dump the problem on your boss, he or she may help you solve it, but you’ll strain the relationship.

6.    Invite dialogue.

Finally, invite your boss or teammates to share their viewpoint. People are willing to listen to even challenging views as long as they believe you are also open to theirs.

Need more help? Pick up a copy of Joseph Grenny's Crucial Conversations from The Human Edge.
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