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By: Dr. John T. Self

Work Related Stress
 

Q: I have a love-hate relationship with work. I'm always stressed and I worry about my job when I'm at the restaurant and even when I'm home. The sad part is that I love my job and I think I'm very good at it. My wife complains that all I do is work. I don't know what to do to just enjoy work, not worry and have less stress. Got any ideas?

A: It sounds like you're not sure how you're doing at work. You're pushing yourself to do better by working longer hours. You've probably always worked a lot, so it is very hard for your wife to understand why you feel you have to work even more.

Basically, we always fear what we don't know. Take a look at the real problem - the uncertainty of how you're doing at work. You've got to find out how your boss really thinks about your performance. You never know, your boss may think you're great and there's nothing to worry about. Working longer hours is never the answer.

Ask your boss for a meeting. Go over your performance, and any concerns your may boss have about you. (Don't wait for a formal assessment; asking for an assessment means you can do it on your OWN terms.)

At the meeting, voice your thoughts and concerns along with your solutions. Then ask your boss for advice; It is vital to get your immediate superior to "buy in" to solutions to overcome any points of contention about your performance.

Don't leave the meeting before you know the following:

  1. Specific points to work on.
  2. Ways to improve or overcome each point.
  3. Agreement on a schedule of follow-up meetings, such as every two weeks, so that you can receive timely feedback.

It is important that your boss understands that this is important to you. Don't ask for the meeting in a casual, it's-not-a-big-deal way. It IS a big deal to you.

One caution; If you're not committed to follow through with each item, don't ask for the meeting because you have put yourself in the spotlight. There won't be any room for excuses.

The meeting may be hard for you, but it will pay off by letting you know where you stand, and what you should work on. As an added bonus, it will make your boss will realize that you're serious about your job. The results are worth it; You'll have a game plan for improvement, meaning you won't have to work longer hours in an attempt to "work harder".

About the author:  John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academe, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

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