Q: My role at work is being revised following some reassignments and additional hiring by other teams. Assistance that I have been providing to those groups for the past couple of years will no longer be needed so I’ll be able to focus more on my official position. This should be good news, but I’m feeling a lot of loss and anxiety. What should I do to get more comfortable in my situation? — Andy, 50, operations director
A: Understand the roots of your concerns and focus on the benefits you can realize.
When you step up to help other teams, there are a variety of possible intangible rewards. There can be a hero effect, with you coming in to save the day. That feels good, right? Or, in a company that rewards activity level over results, being busy might be seen as a route to security. And it can also be a shield to not fully coming through on some responsibilities because you are so desperately needed elsewhere.
At the same time, you might simply really like the other tasks you have picked up and not want to go back to focusing completely on your main job.
Motivations like these are based on increasing pleasure or reducing fear. Give some thought to understanding your underlying emotions so that they are not unintentionally driving your actions. If you are being driven by fear, reflect on whether it’s realistic. Typically fears tend to be exaggerated, so you may be able to set some of this aside.
Then use this as an opportunity to optimize your job.
Examine the tasks you have been doing, identifying those that particularly resonate with you and that you are good at. For those that may not actually be part of “your” job, try to make a reasonable case for having them assigned to you rather than shifted to someone else. Most managers just want work to be done well, so it’s plausible to think you could officially take on some of those responsibilities. If not, though, be sure to support colleagues who take them on, helping them succeed.
However, your most important focus should be on the work that is part of your core role.
With the removal of some workload, you have the opportunity to really shine. You will first need to identify gaps in your past performance.
Look for places where you could have really made a difference if you had given more effort or had used a different approach. Too often this type of reflection occurs too late, when insights can no longer be put into direct action. Take this time as a luxury, recognizing that finding ways to excel in your role will build enthusiasm and energy. Create specific action plans. For example, you may realize that you haven’t done much mentoring of staff. Outline the steps you will take and hold yourself accountable.
As time goes on, review your performance, adjusting your actions to continue to meet your expectations for contributing to the company and having high satisfaction in your position.