Are You Burning Your Team Out? 

Take a stroll through LinkedIn and no doubt you’ll see at least one post about burnout. Employees say they frequently feel negative emotions and fatigue. Recently, Deloitte’s second Well-Being at Work Survey revealed that many employees are still struggling with unacceptably low levels of well-being, with around half “always” or “often” feel exhausted (52%) or stressed (49%), and others report feeling overwhelmed (43%), irritable (34%), lonely (33%), depressed (32%), and even angry (27%).  

 It begs the questions: When will this end and what will end it? This is an issue that goes well beyond giving employees a little more time off and a gym membership and adding to your ‘mental health’ budget is simply ignoring the root cause.  

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: Burnout isn’t an individual’s problem, it’s a leadership issue.  

Here at The Roundtable, we use a lot of the tools, assessments and research from our partner, MRG (Management Research Group). From MRG’s research, fewer than 6% of leaders effectively balance both the rational brain and the social/emotional brain. 

Fewer than 6%. Let that sink in for a minute. 

Put differently… if leaders need to be able to balance both people and results to be effective, close to 95% of us don’t do it well! 

When it comes to trying to stem the issue of burnout, leaders who lean more heavily towards results are likely contributing to the problem. And let’s face it, if you’re on an executive team, you’ve likely been repeatedly rewarded for driving results and backing off a target feels decidedly uncomfortable. No wonder we have a hard time figuring out how to bring the right balance. 

While there is no silver bullet for burnout there are some simple actions that those of us that lean our approach more directly towards the results drive can do to relieve the pressure. 

In a Roundtable webinar on balancing people and results, Tricia Naddaff, President of MRG, recommended that leaders put their attention to three key behaviours to reduce stress during times of uncertainty and overwhelm:  

  1. Clarity of communication: repeat expectations often, keep things clear and stay focused on what matters most. 
  2. Chunking down deadlines into shorter term deliverables: celebrate small progress. For results drivers, it’s easy to only focus on the big win. In times of overwhelm we want to shift the focus to celebrating successes along the way to buoy motivation. 
  3. Recalibrating priorities on a regular basis: it’s very easy to add to the to-do list. A regular culling of what to stop doing is a muscle that needs to be flexed in times of overwhelm. 

For individuals, a relentless drive to deepen our understanding of self and curiosity about our internal motivators and impacts is the first step, but the next evolution of leadership will be to tap into the strengths of the leaders around us. 

Results-driven leaders can benefit from leaning on the expertise of their relationship-driven colleagues to recalibrate their approach. Collective leadership – leaning on and with each other – is truly the way to change the burnout game. 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can cultivate collective leadership in your organization, feel free to reach out to me to discuss your strategic priorities. Together we can break down those strengths silos in your organization and create an exceptional place to work. 

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