A bold but true statement is that all of us have experienced burnout in someway during the span of our career, possibly several times given recent state of the world we have been living in. When working with clients on systemic transformations at a high level, we take into consideration that part of the reason why the change you’d like to see implemented isn’t sticking could be due to a considerable percentage of the employee population suffering from burnout. We suggest that hiring a coach for individual change is also paramount, especially at the leadership level. These efforts can work in tandem to make sure change is sustainable & successful.
In the following article, Meredith Turney – a conscious leadership coach, consultant, and communicator – shares not only her insight on burnout, but also how you can bounce back from it.
What is burnout?
Burnout is different for every person, but usually it’s characterized by lack of motivation for a job you once found interesting and rewarding. It can be a sense of overwhelm, of constantly being exhausted, and feeling like you’ve expended all your internal resources. There is often a feeling of hopelessness, like nothing will improve and you have nowhere to turn for rejuvenation. According to a 2020 CNBC article, over 69% of employees working from home feel some form of burnout.
When I coach conscious leaders on building strong teams, we talk about the tell-tale signs of burnout and how to prevent it. The first signs are lack of energy, missed deadlines, sub-quality work, or a feeling of disconnection from the team. These are all signals that the team member is probably struggling with burnout and could use some help.
How do you prevent burnout?
Burnout is preventable; it just requires empathy, open communication, and awareness to help team members avoid it.
If your whole team is struggling, then examine your internal policies. Have you structured workflow to accommodate plenty of downtime? Do you provide adequate opportunities for honest feedback from team members? Does each person feel empowered to take mental health days or vacation?
Goldman Sachs is the latest example of an employer that didn’t provide this type of empathetic leadership and it resulted in brand-damaging headlines. Overworked junior staff leaked an internal survey that showed a horrifying work culture of 100+hours and lack of support or empathy from leaders. This is a culture-wide issue that a conscious leader can remedy to avoid burnout.
If it’s an individual person, and not the entire team, there could be extenuating circumstances. Some team members have learned resilience skills over the years and are able to handle work and life stress. But others may have not learned those skills and are struggling. Especially in a paradigm-shifting year like 2020, many are facing circumstances they never anticipated. Juggling working from home with educating kids, while worrying about personal safety and loved ones, and so many other unique tensions–it can be overwhelming for anyone.
For conscious leaders to address individual burnout, it requires building a relationship of trust and honesty. Does the team member feel like they can be honest about their struggles without fearing their job is in jeopardy? Do you seek to understand and truly help, instead of just finding quick solutions that don’t solve deeper issues? These are sensitive matters that require building your own conscious leadership in order to adequately address them.
How do you bounce back from burnout?
Even in the best cultures or with the right tools, we can still find ourselves suffering from burnout. There are some things conscious leaders can do to help themselves and their teams:
- Get to the root of what’s causing the burnout. Is it workload? Is it a personal matter? Is it feeling like the work has become stale? Is it a health or mental issue?
- Once the source is determined, ensure you and/or your colleagues don’t feel ashamed to take the time they need to recover.
- Show empathy in working with a colleague to address burnout. Burnout causes can be multi-faceted. Determine a way to help the team member find balance and restoration in a way that’s a win-win for everyone.
- Hire a coach or provide external support to help the team member walk through their burnout challenge. This may not always be necessary, but sometimes an external partner can look at things objectively.
The key to overcoming burnout is to create the trust and psychological safety on your team where each member feels like they can share their struggles and know they will get the help they need. A conscious leader can then work with the burned-out staffer to determine what they need to heal and thrive once again.