Managing your Workload – Is Your Working Style Hindering you?

How often have your struggled to get on top of your workload? How often have you promised yourself that you’ll try to put in place that one top tip that you read in a magazine, only to fall at the first hurdle?

Most people in schools have horrendous workloads and all the top tips in the world will do little to help individuals successfully tackle their workloads, if in conjunction, they don’t have a clear understanding of how their own working style or driver behaviour impacts on the way in which they engage with their work.

So …what are driver behaviours?

Driver Behaviours develop subconsciously in childhood. They are ways of behaving that we adopt to help us to develop a sense of feeling OK. Within the field of Transactional Analysis there are five main drivers that have been identified:

1. Please Others
2. Be Perfect
3. Try Hard
4. Be Strong
5. Hurry up

Most people have a dominant and a secondary driver. These drivers serve as an important function because they give us shorthand cues about staying OK under pressure. However, and this is the important point, they can become so familiar and over-used that they can actually stop us from feeling OK.

They can get us stuck with behaviours that compound feelings of stress and in terms of life in school, can impact negatively on our ability to manage our own workloads.

Awareness is the First Step

Take a look at the tables below. They detail the positive aspects of each driver, and the behaviour traits that are shown when workload begins to get too much and what this can lead to. Identify the driver that you think is the most dominate one. Then answer the questions for reflection that follow.

1. Please Others

Positive traits

When work load gets too much may do the followingCan lead to…
· Good Team Worker
· Able Communicator
· Nurturing
· Bend over backwards to please others
· Disregard their own needs and wants
· Say “Yes” when they mean “No”
· Avoid conflict
· Avoid difficult conversations

· Emotional exhaustion

·Divided loyalties/relationships

· Taking on too many tasks

2. Be Perfect

Positive traitsWhen work load gets too much may do the followingCan lead to…
· Very high standards
· Good attention to details
·  Extremely logical
· Procrastinate
· Overthink
· Put in too many hours
· Micro-manage
· Adopt a fixed mindset
· Extreme self-criticism
· Pre-occupation with detail
· An unwillingness to let go

3. Try Hard

Positive traitsWhen work load gets too much may do the followingCan lead to…
· Initiates projects
· Energetic and enthusiastic
· Creative
· Set unrealistic goals
· Create situations in which they need to be rescued by others
· Avoidance of task completion
· Use excess energy to create distraction
· Missing essential details
· Failure to arrive and finish on time
· Self-sabotage

4. Be Strong

Positive traitsWhen work load gets too much may do the followingCan lead to…
· Great Negotiator
· Self-Directed
· Usually calm
· Not ask for help
· Shut down own feelings
· Shut down emotional expression of others
· Compartmentalise
· Bottling things up
·  Snapping in private
· Withdrawing from others

5. Hurry Up

Positive traitsWhen work load gets too much may do the followingCan lead to…
· Lively
· Adventurous
· Enthusiastic
· Become busier
· Add even more to their to do list
· Work harder, not smarter
· Become very visible
· Inability to think straight
· Juggling too many balls
· Making ‘silly’ mistakes

Now that you have read through the definitions, have you identified the driver/s that are most familiar to you? If you have, now spend a few moments reflecting on your answers to the questions below.

Once answered, they will help you to engage with your role with a greater sense of self-awareness and an increased ability to manage your workload! Meaning more time for yourself and hopefully, more time for you to develop a life outside of school!

Questions for Reflection

1. When your ‘driver behaviour’ start to make you feel not OK, what do you notice?
2. What has been the impact on you/others?
3. What do you think the reason for that might be?
4. To help you better manage your workload what do you think you need to either STOP/START or CONTINUE doing?

Ensuring that you don’t Burn-Out

When you are working in a school, engaging day-to-day with children and their families, teachers, support staff, Governors and other adults, you know that in addition to expending great amounts of mental and physical energy on your workload, you expend equal (if not more) amounts of energy meeting the emotional needs of others.

So in order that you can effectively manage your workload, you must also ensure that you invest the time in meeting your needs. If you don’t, you can end up carrying a huge emotional debt and become increasingly emotionally overdrawn, with no readily identifiable means for bringing your emotional account back into credit. This is particularly dangerous if you’re like most Heads in our school system, you’re incredibly under-supported.

For many Headteachers, there are few people who you can talk to who really gets your job and all the stresses that come with it, leaving you stuck with coping mechanisms and busy-ness to get you through the day — not a great set up for good leadership. As a result, you run the risk of emotional ‘burn out’. When this begins to happen, not only do we experience extreme levels of mental and emotional exhaustion that can be debilitating, but we also can begin to derive less satisfaction from our lives.

Having been a Head myself, I know all too well what this feels like and equally what must be done to prevent it! It is for this reason, that I now offer free “Coaching for the Soul” support calls, for Heads who feel that they could benefit from a confidential space that will allow them to:

–  Talk through the challenges they’re facing and find solutions
–  Receive support and encouragement in their current situation
–  Reflect on recent events and the impact they are having
–  Gain clarity around their thoughts and plan a way forward

Learn More

Places are very limited, so to avoid missing out – please register your interest today!


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