The pandemic has brought the conversation of burnout and employee wellness into the spotlight. As many professionals start considering different career options to decrease their stress and burnout. As the world looks to return to some sort of “normal”, some questions we should all be asking ourselves; do we want really want to go back to the way things were?
Professionals are beginning to expect more from the companies they devote their time to. Many are starting to see benefits such as open work spaces, in-office games, employee outings, and vacations as veils that companies use to mask overwhelming, high-intensity work environments. Those that usually demand long days and nights.
The busy trap that many enterprises struggle to escape is that the feeling of being persistently overwhelmed can easily cause even the most devoted employee to start losing interest in the work. This eventually leads to a loss in motivation and brings on a state that leaves them feeling powerless, helpless and extremely worn out. This happens when we put too much on any one person – much more than is realistic to handle.
Today, we’ll show you how to escape the busy trap. We’ll show you how to undo the effects of burnout and things you can do as the leader to prevent it from happening again in your organization.
Burnout goes beyond exhaustion
When looking at burnout in your team, it’s important to remember that it’s not just mere exhaustion that each member of your team experiences. It doesn’t just affect their performance in their work, but every aspect of their lives. For instance, work may become unbearable, but soon they lose interest in almost everything else that they do. Fun stops being fun, while every insignificant thing or minor delay will seem to start conflict between employees.
This brings a cloud over your workplace that you don’t want to have in your business. Once companies get into this high performance state, the feeling of burnout in the team never fully goes away. In fact, when working at a consistent, high intensity pace, what you don’t know is that some of your employees will begin to believe that there’s no alternative. That this is how things will always be, and that’s when they look for a way of getting out.
So as a leader, how to you pull your organization out of this rut? By practicing Focused Leadership. There’s a relatively simple formula that will come in very handy for managing your team members when they’re overwhelmed.
By using this, you can sort out issues by focusing on the critical factor that’s causing the feeling of being overwhelmed. Is it that they have too much on their plate? Too many meetings? You’ll be able to clarify what’s important and what should be prioritized and help them understand why it is and when to deal with it. Once you collectively have the answers to these questions, you can then start working with your employee to untangle that feeling of being overwhelmed.
Use Focused Leadership to undo the effects of burnout in your organization.
Once you’ve identified the triggers, whether it’s being pulled in too many directions, or lack of clear directions, be prepared to make some changes in your processes. This effort will take a lot of focus on your part as the leader, because you’re not only making serious changes to your day-to-day operations, but also have to get everyone to stick with them for a while.
The bright side to this entire transformation is that once you start making the shift, you’ll see your team members begin to feel more motivated again. A good place to start is by focusing and working on cutting off the source of the burnout.
Do you have too many projects that require overtime to be completed? Does your team hate the idea of another status update meeting? Are high priority tasks assigned before the current task is complete? Where possible, cut back on the behaviors and processes that cause your team to feel overwhelmed. Job related burnouts often happen from too many hours working and too little personal time.
The long-term organization impact of being overwhelmed
As the leader, when your organization is unfocused, and your team members overwhelmed, things can go horribly wrong in terms of your long-term strategy. The business world is only getting even more fast-paced. Continuing to bombard you with opportunities, competition, projects, deadlines, delivery. With all the information piling up, it becomes really hard to stay focused on your long-term strategy. And while you may not be able to detect it right away, there are certain red flags that can identify when your organization is going off-course due to burnout.
What happened to the plan?
It’s very difficult to stay focused on your long-term strategy, when you’re busy putting out fires in your daily work. You might have noticed that you’re working through your days on a whim, rather than with a strategic approach. Or, that you’re spending your time getting status updates because you “think” those are important without really knowing why.
When your organization is focused and your employees balanced, you won’t need to spend so much time overseeing projects and can move through your own agenda progressively, rather than randomly.
What happened to the time?
If you find that most or all of your team’s projects and tasks are late, you’re probably not focusing on good time management. They might be getting too deep into things where it’s not required, and end up spending too much time on one specific task. Which, with focus and planning on your part, could have been possibly split into multiple tasks instead.
Closely tying in with poor time management, when your team is overwhelmed, they will most likely always be late. Unfocused people not only tend to not manage their time well, but also have unrealistic ideas about time. For instance, a common example is having an unclear idea about how long it actually takes to complete a particular task.
When your team is in a constantly frantic pace and burnout sets in, it becomes the norm for people to miscalculate how long things might take, or how outside factors might impact their ability to get the job done on time.
What happened to my …?
Another common red flag of burnout in your organization is when your employees are taking on (or being assigned) new projects before the previous ones are complete. The result is nothing but chaos where you end up with not many projects getting done. Leaving your employees to scramble to finish up while falling behind on the other responsibilities of their roles.
Every time you take your employee’s attention away from an activity, or have them switch from one project to another, there’s a time lag in between. If you’re in an organization with regularly shifting priorities, this void is easily filled with sneaky little distractions like getting on their cell phones, browsing social media, or even simple conversations with coworkers are enough to take them far way from their assigned task.
Does that something that happens a lot within your team? If so, you’ll need to work on your focused leadership so you can better manage and prevent these red flags.
The Bottom Line
The impact of burnout can have long lasting effects on both the employee and the organization. As the world slowly reopens and many return to work, you can escape the busy trap that leads to increased stress and employee turnover by practicing focused leadership.
Start by cutting off the source of the burnout by working with your team members individually to identify what the problem is and what’s important. Then be prepared to make changes in how you work. As you’re making this change, you want to also cut back on the behaviors and processes that created the burnout in the first place. To learn more about practicing focused leadership, and what you can do everyday to prevent burnout in your organization, click here.