Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I love my company, but am available by email 24/7, travel internationally, and am nicknamed the Go-To Queen for everything from strategic support for 15 departments, to sales, to customer and vendor relationships. I refer to the work that I do every weekend as catching up. The problem is, I never really catch up. How can I be a collaborative team member and save myself from burnout?
Answer: The first step in combating collaboration overload is to take a hard look in the mirror. How much of what you do is driven by your desire to maintain a reputation as a helpful, knowledgeable, or influential team member? Alternatively, do you have trouble letting go of control and trusting that others will do the job to your standards?
Either way, you need to get clear about why you take on more than you can effectively do. Effective collaboration means that saying yes to something means saying no (or not as much) to something else. It means thinking carefully about your areas of expertise and when you do, or don’t, add value. It also means finding opportunities to step out of the way to allow others to grow and develop their value.
Next, take time to write down your own “north star” objectives. What personal strengths do you have and values can you embody that align and support your company’s priorities? How can you streamline your work life to buffer yourself against nonaligned requests for your time?
Finally, take off the Go-To Queen crown. Work to reset your team members’ expectations about the level and timeliness of your involvement. Talk about your key priorities so that others know where you want to spend your time to be most effective for the organization. Think of collaboration not as something that only adds to your to-do list, but as a network to actively engage others who are eager to mutually contribute to success.