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How to Cope When Responsibilities Increase at Work

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How to Deal with Increased Responsibility at Work

A new job, a new promotion, a new project…

You dream about these goals and you hatch plans to make them a reality. But you may also feel a degree of inner resistance. 

Because you know that stepping into more responsibility at work will bring increased pressure. You worry about facing new challenges like: 

  • Office politics
  • Dealing with more aggressive personalities
  • Having so much riding on your decisions and behaviors
  • Knowing that more people are counting on you

…Or a combination of all of the above.

You may wonder if you have the emotional fortitude to withstand the pressure of your new opportunity.

The good news? You absolutely do.

Here are strategies that will help you rise to the occasion like the top-performer you are.

How to Cope with Increased Responsibility at Work

Shift from execution to empowerment

When you step into more responsibility, you’ll likely have to remove yourself from the day-to-day execution you’re used to and move towards strategy and people management. Instead of being the one doing the work, you’re the one empowering and influencing the people above, below, and across from to do what needs to be done.

This isn’t always easy. Sensitive Strivers who find themselves with more responsibility can get so sucked into over-functioning. They take on so many of the day-to-day tasks themselves, that their team doesn’t learn how to function independently. In an attempt to accomplish everything they did before and their new tasks, these Sensitive Strivers find they’ve painted themselves into a corner, crushed under the burden of expectations and an increased workload.

In order to succeed, the expectations you hold yourself to need to change because what got you here, won’t get you there.

Recognize what others see in you

Remember, you’re the only one who can see all of the insecurities whirling around your head. You may feel paranoid that senior leaders are judging you during your morning meeting, or that your boss is judging you for not having an answer during a 1:1. But you’re the only one who knows you feel that way. Everyone in your orbit sees you as the competent, capable professional you are.

So try to reconsider how other people actually see you. This can be eye-opening, particularly when you discover that they’ve picked up on strengths that you didn’t even realize you had. And knowing that other people think you excel in certain areas can make it far easier for you to call on those strengths when you need to.

Root into your resilience

Perhaps you’ve been the one tasked with overseeing a vital project and have had to deal with dissenting co-workers. Or maybe you had the pressure of senior executives who have changed the goalposts on a project right before the deadline. When chaos hits and your initial response is, “I can’t do this, I can’t handle this”, know that you can. Because you already have.

Sure, maybe you haven’t faced this exact situation before. But facing ambiguous challenges, feeling overwhelmed because everything is new, getting your bearings with new tasks, new procedures, new people —none of this is unchartered territory for you.

Recognizing that you’ve coped in difficult situations before, and rooting into those past experiences where you’ve overcome challenges can give you a blueprint for mindset shifts and habits that will serve you now. Try shifting your response to, “how can I model what worked back then to make it work now?”

Hang out in your comfort zone (at least for a while)

Many Sensitive Strivers come into new positions of responsibility and immediately put pressure on themselves to make big things happen right away. They shift to proving themselves.

However, as a Sensitive Striver, your comfort zone is listening and observing, which is exactly what’s required when encountering increased pressure. Spend learning as much as you can from different leaders and stakeholders so you can get a pulse on relationships, dynamics, and how decisions are made.

You’ll find that time spent absorbing data about your surroundings and the context of the organization, project, and team is time well invested in the long-term. When you synthesize the information you gather during this period (synthesizing information is another Sensitive Striver strength, by the way), you’ll be perfectly placed to spot opportunities, create a strategic plan, and develop relationships.

This is the very foundation you need to be successful and cope with responsibility at work.

Grow your confidence

Comparison is a confidence killer, so be aware of times that you start judging yourself against others who have different traits and characteristics than you, and take a moment to focus on your own strengths. Reflect on what you’re doing well instead of concentrating solely on areas in which you need to improve.

That said, there are times when it can be helpful to step into someone else’s shoes. If you’re facing a challenge and you’re convinced you can’t do it, pretend you can. Suspend your disbelief for a second by thinking of someone you admire, someone who shares your values, and imagine how they would act, what they would say, or what they would do. Then realize that because their values are your values, you’re every bit as capable as they are.

Landing a new job, a promotion or anything that brings new responsibilities is always going to come with a steep learning curve. So the fact you’re feeling overwhelmed is not a reflection on you or your ability to handle the change. 

Allow yourself to ease into the challenges and know that the pressure won’t always feel this intense. Above all, remember that you worked really hard to get to where you are now, so take a moment to congratulate yourself — and let yourself enjoy it.

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Hi, I'm Melody

I help smart, sensitive high-achievers overcome insecurity and overwhelm so they can thrive in the workplace.

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