Have you worked so hard on a task, aiming to solely impress your boss, only to realize that your boss is not impressed at all with the results? It’s always a delicate situation when you feel like you’re not meeting expectations at work. You might start to worry that your boss might call you into his or her office and – God forbid – ask you to resign. But let’s not get too hasty here. If you’re dealing with a similar situation at work, then here’s how you should handle these unrealistic expectations from your boss:

Is It Really “Unrealistic”?

Has your boss ever asked you to do something and the first thing that popped into your head is “That is so unrealistic. There is no way I can do that!”? Well, you’re not alone. We do ask you to pause for a second however and ask yourself if what your boss asked you to do is actually unreasonable. Although you might feel like the deadline is too close or the task is just beyond your capabilities, good managers usually know how when to push you beyond your comfort zone in order to help you develop new skills.

So this is where you should ask yourself, do you find it unrealistic because you’re not comfortable with doing something new, or because it really is just beyond your capabilities? If the reason for your anxiety is simply insecurity then you should probably give yourself more credit and start taking more chances. If that’s not the case for you, then by all means, read on.

Discuss It With Your Coworkers

So if in fact the workload is beyond your capabilities, then maybe your coworkers (who may have a bit more expertise) can offer some great tips. Maybe your boss has made them feel a similar way early on in their career. Ask your colleagues if they can give you any insight on handling such workload from your boss. For instance, your coworker from Marketing might tell you that your boss tends to give the hardest tasks to his or her most trusted employees. So if you never asked around for some insight, you might have just continued on to presume that your boss’ sole purpose in life is to make your work experience a living nightmare.

Set Your Priorities and Break Your Silence

Now that you’ve talked to your coworkers, grab a pen and paper, and jot a few things down. Organize your thoughts in a list. Why do you feel like your boss’ demands are unrealistic? Is it because the deadline is on Thursday and you have only two days to get it done? Or is it because Sarah from Accounting is usually assigned to such tasks? Write down all the tasks you’re working on, and how this new tasks differs from the rest. After writing down a timeline, you’ll now be ready to proceed to the next step.

This step is probably the hardest step, and yet the most important one. Talk to your boss. This is your only chance to inform your boss of the challenges you’re facing. First of all, do it early. Don’t wait out a month until you face your boss to address your concerns. Speak up to your boss as soon as you believe your boss is overestimating your capabilities. Be confident, but don’t step the line. Address your boss in a clear, cohesive and professional manner. Ask him or her for the reasons behind their demands, and try to reach common ground. The truth is, after all, you might end up exceeding their expectations anyway!

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