Tactics To Handle Unrealistic Expectations at Work

Tactics to handle unrealistic expectations at work


Employees find far more work on their plate than they can manage. Sometimes, as Indeed describes, bosses unfairly expect workers to put in time outside of working hours or during vacation. Other times, managers presume that tasks will be completed when they haven’t been communicated. When workers aren’t able to meet their employers’ demands, they become frustrated, depressed and burnt out.

Many people are often too anxious to raise their concerns because they fear losing their jobs. They’re scared of being perceived by their superiors as incompetent but, to be successful in any given field, your targets need to be attainable. You can’t surpass expectations if they can’t be met.

How to tackle unrealistic expectations in a pragmatic way

If you’re feeling the strain of being overworked but you’re not sure how to address your issues with management, you’ll need to learn some handy tips and tricks for navigating this discussion tactfully. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Chat with colleagues: It’s often helpful to talk to your coworkers to see if they’re experiencing the same difficulties. If you can recognise a trend, you can raise that as an issue. By contrast, if it seems that you’re being unfairly prejudiced, then that’s how you need to frame the discussion.
  2. Identify specific problems: Before you initiate the dialogue, you need to have a comprehensive list of what’s bothering you. Having a strategy in place is going to be extremely useful so that you don’t become sidetracked or flustered if nerves are an issue for you.
    talk, coworker, jobTalking to your coworkers can help you figure out if there’s a problem with workplace expectations.
  3. Gather evidence: While this may seem confrontational, if you’re armed with proof that you’re being overworked (like time stamps on emails that you’ve had to send after-hours), you’ll be able to show far more easily that there’s actually something amiss. It’s far harder to dismiss concerns when there’s documentation to back your claims.
  4. Choose your words carefully: Create a “script” ahead of time that you can use to get the ball rolling. Take some time to decide what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. You can even run this by close and trusted friends or family to get their input. Remember to be polite and frame your concerns in the context of the organization’s best interests.
  5. Be prepared for all outcomes: Your manager might take your concerns on board and take appropriate action, and they might not. Either way, you need to follow some ground rules for avoiding unrealistic expectations in the future:
  • Learn to set boundaries: When your assigned targets aren’t feasible, mention why that is to the person assigning them.
  • Communicate openly and regularly: Make sure to inform your supervisor when your workload is unreasonable or when people want you to work at unsuitable times.
  • Take breaks as needed: You must prioritise your health and well-being. It’s crucial to rest regularly so that you can perform at your best.

If you need further assistance in managing expectations, check out our conflict management course. Alternatively, contact us to find out how best ICML can support you.

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