How to Avoid Burnout
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Burnout is spiritual, physical, emotional and/or mental exhaustion, usually resulting from one or more long-term, unsatisfying efforts. Burnout seems to be on the rise in organizations, resulting in poor health, poor performance and conflicts in the workplace (internal conflicts and conflicts with others).
© Copyright Sheri Mazurek
Carrie walks in to your office this morning with an unfamiliar look on her
face that reminds of the look your seven-year-old gives when they break a rule.
The conversation goes something like this:
“Good morning Carrie! What’s going on?”
“Um, I need to talk to you.”
“Sure. What do you want to talk about?”
Carrie slides a sheet of paper in front of you. You immediately notice the word resignation. It’s there screaming at you. You take a breath.
“You are resigning. I’m surprised. Why did you decide to leave?”
How common is this scenario in your office? How often do you and your manager’s find themselves shocked by the notice? Are there signs you may have missed?
- When you manage a team of high performing, high potential employees, missing the signs of an unsatisfied employee has a much greater cost to your organization than just recruiting. These are signs most managers can’t afford to miss. Below is a list of things to notice:
- Change in performance or productivity. It’s very common to dismiss a few performance misses with your top performers because most of the time because you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. That may be okay, but don’t ignore it. Monitor and address as necessary.
- Increased absences and tardiness. When the workplace becomes a source of stress for an employee, they will find reasons to avoid the environment. Look for any change in attendance. Does the employee seek ways to leave the office? Do they leave immediately at quitting time opposed to staying late as usual?
- Changes in demeanor. Have you noticed a change in mood from positive and upbeat to quiet, sullen or depressed? Does the employee seem irritated and negative? Also, look for any change that is not typical of that person including changes in focus. There may be an explanation from an outside source; engage in dialogue with them to determine this.
- Changes in break times. Is the employee taking more time than usual? Be careful of the clock watchers especially if this is a new behavior.
- Change of relationships with co-workers. Employees often form tight connections with co-workers. In times of stress those connections can be supportive or destructive. What to watch for in this case would be a change in behavior.
© Copyright Sheri Mazurek
Engage your employees.
Spend time each day engaging your employees. Whenever possible, spend a few minutes with them in person. Monitor for changes as described above.
Provide clear communication on expectations and success.
Provide all employees with consistent fair feedback on performance. Thank you employees for coming to work and meeting expectations. Praise them when they exceed expectations and communicate with them when they miss expectations.
Give employees as much control of their work as allowed.
Most people assert negative control when they feel as though they have none. They do this by choosing to not stay late and coming in early. They make choices to “show you” that they don’t have to do anymore than they have to do.
Communicate the importance of their role in the organization.
Employees want to feel that they work is valued. Share how their work contributes to client and company success.
Provide opportunity for growth and learning.
This doesn’t mean requiring them to go to company provided training sessions that were planned by someone else (although it may be depending on the individual and the learning topic and environment). Let the employee guide this process. Discuss development with them.
Avoid the following questions:
- “In what areas do you want to develop this year?”
- “What kind of training would you be interested in taking this year?”
Try Theses Instead
- “What parts of your job do you most enjoy?”
- “If you could create your dream job, what would it be?”
Use the dialogue to help identify stretch assignments or goals you can establish for the employee.
Ensure the work environment is cooperative and respectful.
Employees want to be treated fairly and with respect. As the supervisor you need to model this behavior and hold everyone accountable to it.
Look for ways to remove obstacles to proficiency.
Look to see what obstacles are blocking employee’s success and find ways to remove them. Look for unnecessary duplicate processes that can be removed.
Engage employees in finding solutions.
Operate an open door to bring concerns and questions. How you respond as a supervisor sends a key message to an employee. If an employee comes to you with a valid concern or suggestion, hear them out. Ask some of the following questions:
- “What suggestions do you have to improve in this area?”
- “How will this work in our department?”
- “What benefits does it have?”
- “What are the obstacles?”
- “What support would you need to help implement this suggestion?
Set realistic work expectations.
Don’t expect everyone to work at the same pace and with the same strengths. Set expectations that are reasonable and as previously mentioned remove obstacles to success. Be flexible with how work is accomplished whenever possible to meet individual differences.
Offer ways for employees to relax for a few minutes during the work day. Host a potluck or special lunch for employees to socialize and network with one another in a relaxed setting. If you can’t find an idea, there are multiple books available with tons of ideas. Or just ask your employees what ideas they have.
Motivating and Inspiring Yourself
For the Category of Personal Wellness:
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