Unpacking Stress at Work Part 1: Mismatched Expectations!

By Nicki Gilmour, Executive Coach, CEO and Founder of

As a coach, many clients come to me because they are somewhat dissatisfied at work. Often they have been happy for years and a new structure or a new job in the firm has made them question if they should leave the team or even the firm.

It is rarely ever the tasks that make people wrestle with the big question of “Should I stay or should I go” as senior people find ways of navigating and delegating where appropriate. In fact people can love their tasks, the day to day of what they actually do, but hate their role.

How come? Simply put, because a role can consist of responsibilities that are not aligned with the appropriate authority to execute leaving people feeling like they cannot succeed on their mission. This can show up as having no formal authority around managing the people who have to deliver on a product or a behavior, or having no budget or resources to make the goal happen.

If you suspect you are there, ask yourself three questions:

  1. “Does this role have definitive responsibilities that require tangible results?”
  2. “Am I the type of person who needs to see tangible outcomes for my own well-being/sense of self? or for my formal reward or evaluation?”
  3. “In this role, will I have the ability to deliver part or all of the solution or product via myself and a team that I have control over in some way or another such as reporting line, resources and budget? What could stop this from running smoothly?”

If you say yes to needing to see tangible results, your job requires it and your current position gives you the ability to execute on your responsibilities such as call clients, sell them a product and let a qualified and competent team fulfill on the order (or even deliver it yourself), then my guess is, things are good unless you are a horrible boss (which is for another day).

However, if you say yes to the tangible results piece and your job has you taking on a nebulous or aspirational mission, without any team, budget or ability to infiltrate and change core aspects of the company or system, then you might feel the tension.

Lastly, maybe you do not need or have not been given formal responsibilities around tangible results and in this case then advocacy or influencer work tends not create such a rub organizationally or for the individual except when the individual has a high sense of tangible achievements for their own validation.

If you would like to work with a coach because you are experiencing any of the above and want to talk through your options and make a plan of action, Nicki Gilmour is taking on 5 new clients for summer only and you can book a free exploratory chat with her here.

Nicki is a qualified coach and holds a masters from Columbia University in Organizational Psychology and is the Founder of