Almost every leader will deal with burnout in some way at some point in time. It may affect you personally bringing a sense of mental or physical exhaustion. You may even develop an attitude of indifference or a sense of failure. In business burnout can translate to lack of motivation and reduced performance even bringing increased conflict and a high rate of turnover.
Most people associate burnout with too much work and too little time off. Over-achievers and folks with an excessive desire to please or “look good” are prime candidates for the problems related to burnout. Consequently, the most common advice includes taking a vacation, avoiding overtime or using delegation to lessen the workload. In extreme circumstances professionals may even suggest quitting your job or changing your career.
In most cases reductions in stress can decrease the probability and severity of burnout. Stress builds up when there is not enough balance in life. Find time for relaxation and fun with family or friends. Taking time to enhance your spiritual side will also prove to be a valuable stress buster. Get away for some quiet reflection, meditation or prayer.
Current research indicates that workload, pace and balance are not the only contributors to stress and burnout. Some workplaces seem to be alive with excitement and enthusiasm. Performance is high, the pace is quick and often, the hours are long. Yet employees in these businesses often seem immune to burnout. What is their secret? They have ignited passion and learned to overcome the more subtle causes of burnout.
Here are three less talked about factors and some things you can do to avoid them. These factors are not limited to business but can arise in non-profit and volunteer organizations as well.
• Repetitive or tedious work with little meaning. Be sure that everyone understands the connection between their work and the success of the business. Assign several diverse tasks and allow time to move back and forth between them to break the monotony. To ensure the sense of accomplishment, set specific short term goals for each type of task and celebrate the success of reaching those goals.
• Lack of positive feedback and recognition. Get out of your office, get around to the workers, catch them doing something right and thank them. Acknowledge everyone’s efforts as often as possible. Look for good things happening in your team or company and use this as a reason to bring everyone together, celebrate the success, and recognize each person that contributed to the success.
• Unrealistic demands or objectives. Be sure that your expectations are realistic. Watch out for “piling on.” Often tasks are assigned without consideration for existing priorities. The result is a pile of tasks that all need to be done right away. Being overwhelmed, there is a fear of failure and a significant increase in stress. Remember to establish realistic expectations for all tasks and with each new task. If you are the recipient, ask how the new task fits into current priorities.
Follow these simple tips and the light in the window of your business will never burn out.