The Burnout Battle: Why Leaders Must Lead the Charge By Jessica Rector

The Burnout Battle: Why Leaders Must Lead the Charge By Jessica Rector

Burnout is impacting every industry, company and role. There are no exceptions.  Leaders often find themselves in the trenches, navigating through the chaos, and driving their teams towards success. However, amidst the pursuit of goals and objectives, there’s a lurking enemy that can undermine all efforts – burnout.   In the burnout battle, we often find the great divide.

Leaders believe that their employees aren’t being impacted by burnout or that their people have everything they need to beat it.   Yet, employees are struggling in the day to day and believe they don’t have the strategies, tools or support to help them.   We call this the burnout gap (the distance between what leaders think and how employees feel).

Much of the burnout battle, begins with educating leaders not only on the importance of burnout but also the urgency of it, because burnout won’t go away on its own or work itself out. You must be intentional and strategic as a leader and organization to prevent it.  Our research has uncovered two components of burnout: the company and individuals. More specifically, a company’s culture and an individual’s habits.  If one of these is misaligned it will lead to burnout. Your organization might have a wellness program, but that solely focuses on what employees can do to prevent or beat burnout in themselves, so it leaves out almost half of the contributing factors for burnout.

In other words, if employees work through a wellness program, they will still be headed toward burnout, because it doesn’t incorporate the company side of the contributing factors to burnout. For leaders, preventing burnout is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must do.   Here’s why it’s crucial for leaders to take proactive measures to prevent and combat burnout within their teams, along with microstep, a small action leaders can take for massive results.

Burnout Kills Productivity

Burnout doesn’t just sap employees’ energy and enthusiasm; it also wreaks havoc on productivity. Exhausted and disengaged workers are far less likely to perform at their peak, resulting in missed deadlines, more mistakes, and decreased efficiency. The detrimental outcomes often can lead to safety issues and enhance cybersecurity attacks. When leaders fail to address burnout, they inadvertently sabotage their team’s performance and jeopardize the organization’s bottom line.

Microstep: Find one way to acknowledge or appreciate your people at least on a weekly basis. When employees get recognition six times a year (once every other month), performance increases by 32%, according to WorkHuman. Imagine if they received recognition weekly how much their performance would increase.

Burnout Breeds Disengagement

A burned-out workforce is a disengaged workforce. When employees feel overwhelmed and undervalued, their commitment to the job dwindles, and they become more prone to absenteeism and turnover, which costs U.S. employers $300 billion annually due to burnout. Leaders who turn a blind eye to burnout risk losing their top talent to competitors and creating a toxic culture of apathy and discontent.

Microstep: Address the elephant in the room and start talking about burnout. When you talk about burnout, employees lean in and become engaged, knowing that you’re creating a safe place where they will be met with compassion, empathy, and understanding. They recognize their work community is operating on the same foundation on which they can all build and thrive.

Burnout Undermines Creativity and Innovation

Innovation thrives in environments where individuals are energized, motivated, and encouraged to think outside the box. Unfortunately, burnout stifles creativity and dampens innovation. Exhausted minds lack the clarity and focus needed to generate fresh ideas and problem-solve effectively. By neglecting to address burnout, leaders inadvertently stifle their team’s creativity and hinder their organization’s ability to adapt and thrive in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

Microstep: Encourage frequent breaks. You people are most productive when you work for 50 minutes and take a 10-minute break. Instead of pushing through to finish a project or a task, give their brains the time and space to unwind and decompress. When they get back to it, they’re more creative and innovative and are able to finish things faster by taking that much needed break.

Burnout Damages Health and Well-being

Beyond its impact on productivity and performance, burnout takes a significant toll on employees’ health and well-being. Chronic stress and overwork can lead to a host of physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, cardiovascular problems, and weakened immune systems. Leaders who prioritize the bottom line over their team’s well-being not only jeopardize individual health but also incur long-term costs in terms of healthcare expenses and employee morale.

Microstep: Implement more fun into the work days. Fun and work aren’t mutually exclusive. The more fun employees have at work, the more they will stay at the company. Fun shows up in different ways for people. Trivia, contests, ropes courses, or karaoke—ask them what they like to do for fun and then do it.

Burnout Leads to Leadership Failure

Ultimately, leaders bear the responsibility for the well-being and success of their teams. Failing to address burnout is a failure of leadership. Leaders who ignore the warning signs of burnout, or worse, contribute to its proliferation through unrealistic expectations and poor management practices, risk damaging their reputation and undermining their credibility as effective leaders. The ability to recognize, prevent, and address burnout is a fundamental skill that separates great leaders from mediocre ones.

Microstep: Do a two-word check in. Ask your team, “How are you really feeling,” and don’t allow them to say, “Fine.” Inspire them to tap into other feelings. When they say anxious, stressed, depressed, sad, hesitant or words like these, it’s an opportunity to dive into a deeper conversation and ask, “How can I help,” which lets them know you care about them as a real person and not just a worker.

The battle against burnout is more critical than ever. Leaders who prioritize the well-being of their employees and take proactive steps to prevent and combat burnout are not only fostering a healthier and more engaged workforce but also safeguarding the long-term success of their organizations. By leading by example, cultivating a supportive work culture, and promoting life-work alignment, leaders can empower their teams to thrive under any circumstance. Remember, the fight against burnout begins at the top – and it’s a battle worth waging.

About the Author, Jessica Rector

Jessica Rector, MBA, author of the #1 best-selling “Blaze Your Brain to Extinguish Burnout” and nine other books, helps organizations, leaders, and teams Say Yes to eradicate burnout and enhance mental health.  As a burnout trailblazer, her research is used in her consulting and speaking and often shared on her podcast, “The Say Yes Experience.” For how Jessica can help your organization and team, go to www.jessicarector.com

 

Five Ways to Make Joy a Core KPI by Liz Matthews & Amy Jo Martin

Five Ways to Make Joy a Core KPI by Liz Matthews & Amy Jo Martin

Are you happy at work? Here’s how to boost the often-overlooked KPI of joy.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are foundational to most jobs. These useful measurements help companies understand progress over time. But beyond revenue growth and profit margin, there’s one KPI some managers overlook: JOY!

How happy are your employees? Perhaps more importantly, what’s your own level of joy in your job? At Dell Technologies and at Renegade Global—a consulting practice that helps people invest in their personal brand and growth—we see the people in our businesses, not just the professionals.

Make Play Nonnegotiable!

Play goes hand in hand with curiosity, which in turn fuels engagement. When you prioritize play, you combat opposing feelings of burnout and even depression.

Diversify Your Sources of Happiness

There are different kinds of happiness: “rock star,” which you might experience after a big win; “flow,” which happens when you’re caught up in something you enjoy; and “higher purpose,” which occurs when you focus on something bigger than yourself. You need all three.

Avoid the Three Ps (Perfectionish, People Pleasing & Personalizing)

Of the common pitfalls people tend to fall into at work, three Ps top the list: perfectionism (seeking an unattainable standard), people-pleasing (never putting yourself first) and personalizing (making things “about you”). Be sure to give yourself—and others—the grace to make mistakes. Prioritize your own needs and remember that not everything is personal.

Overcome Difficult Conversations

Effective communication is an art form. When you have a difficult conversation ahead, consider the following steps:

  • Vent to a neutral third party (not colleagues) to release tension.
  • Empathize with the other person’s perspective.
  • Rehearse what you want to say.
  • Ask for what you need—then stop talking.
  • Check in weekly.

Here at Dell and within Renegade Global, we have seen great results with weekly check-ins, asking questions such as:

  1. Which activities did I love?
  2. Which ones did I loathe?
  3. What are my priorities?
  4. What help do others need from me?

With these tips in mind, you can transcend clichés about work-life balance and make joy a core Key Performance Indicator of your job.

Authors:  Liz Matthews is a Senior Vice President of Global Brand, Dell Technologies, and Amy Jo Martin, CEO and founder, Renegade Global

 

Why I Joined the American Business Women’s Association by Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson, Ph.D.

Why I Joined the American Business Women’s Association by Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson, Ph.D.

To view the complete video, “WHY I JOINED ABWA” – Click the link and/or copy and paste the link into the internet search field:  https://youtu.be/iqHYOG_rmcg

About ABWA Member, Dr. Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson

Dr. Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson is a dynamic innovative business executive; her expertise is leadership training and development, strategic planning, and organizational development. An articulate, diplomatic, interpersonal communicator with an uncommon ability to influence, motivate, inspire, and communicate with diverse constituents,

A native of San Francisco, she is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, the University of Phoenix, where she earned a Master’s of Business Administration and Capella University where she earned a Doctorate in Human Services.

Ka’Ryn presently serves as the Executive Director of ACCEL San Mateo County Adult Education Consortium where she leads a Ka’Ryn leads a coalition of regional education, training, business and industry partners bridging the gap between employer demand for an educated and skilled workforce and the supply of workers with the necessary skills for a 21st century labor market.

As a former Associate Director for the American Diabetes Association, San Francisco Bay Area, Ka’Ryn received honors as the recipient of a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in 2015 from the Honorable Barbara Lee 13th Congressional District of California, In Recognition of Dedication to Educating the Community About Diabetes & the Importance of Health Care.

Ka’Ryn has over 20 years’ experience serving in Executive Management in corporate, for profit, not-for-profit, non-profit, and education Sectors.  She is the CEO of A’Ryze Consulting; a Certified Executive Coach, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Facilitator, and has over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry and is a licensed financial services representative.

Awards & Recognition:

  • 2023 Top Ten Business Woman, American Business Women’s Association
  • 2019 Woman of Distinction, American Business Women’s Association
  • 2018 Commendation Board of Supervisors of San Mateo County, California
    for Leadership in our Communities
  • 2015 Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the Honorable Barbara Lee 13th Congressional District of California, In Recognition of Dedication to Educating the Community About Diabetes & the Importance of Health Care.

 

 

What To Do About Burnout When You’re Not Burned-Out, By Jessica Rector

What To Do About Burnout When You’re Not Burned-Out, By Jessica Rector

3 Ways To Keep Burnout From Spreading Like Wildfire

Burnout is impacting every company, position, and industry. With 90% of the workforce experiencing burnout in the last year, you can no longer afford to ignore this epidemic. It’s affecting teams, leaders, and the whole organization…even you.

Even if you’re not the one in burnout, it still impacts you.

Think of it this way. How do you feel the next morning when you don’t get quality sleep the night before? Grumpy? Groggy? Foggy? Impatient, irritable, unfocused? Lack of sleep impacts your perspective, attitude, how you respond to others, and how you react to situations.

The same thing happens with burnout. It doesn’t stay self-contained.

When a team member, let’s say Burnout Betty, has burnout, it impacts how she leads, communicates, listens, focuses, thinks, interacts, her behaviors, energy, mood and disposition.

It literally impacts everything. When one person is in burnout, it also trickles out to others, because burned out people burn others out.

Even if you don’t have burnout, you’re being impacted by it when someone else does or is on the brink of it. You have the power to do something about it.  What can YOU do?

START A DIALOGUE—Begin talking about burnout is the best place to start. Even though burnout is rampant in the workforce, there’s still some stigma around it. People often fear, if they admit they have it, what will others think, do or say. Will my leaders think I can’t do my job? Will they take away responsibilities or will they lose trust in me?

If Burnout Betty (BB) isn’t focused, she becomes distracted, unproductive, and making more errors. She will do the same work multiple times, miss deadlines or forget to meet a client. Those are best case scenarios. BB will easily cut corners leading to cybersecurity attacks, safety issues and possible injuries.

When BB misses deadlines, makes mistakes, or has to redo work, how does that impact you? You might have to stay longer, do some of her work, or maybe your work gets pushed back waiting on her to get her part to you, which means missing dinner with your family, being absent at your kids’ activities, or not meeting your deadlines.

Lean into your storytelling skills. Share your burnout story with BB. When you were in it, what led to burnout in your life, and the strategies you implemented to move past it.

When people are in burnout, they tend to pull away and isolate themselves. When you tell your burnout story, they will start to engage. The more you talk about burnout, the more it reduces this stigma. In the process, you allow others who are experiencing it to not feel alone and to know that someone, somewhere gets it and understands. You create a safe place of compassion and empathy.

This lets others know it’s okay to feel burned out. You can still love your job and be burned out.

CREATE AWARENESS AROUND BURNOUT—Burnout doesn’t discriminate. It’s impacting your people. The more your team knows what to look for and what to do to prevent it, the less likely they will find themselves in it. Develop a keen eye, because you can’t change something you aren’t aware exists.

Since burnout impacts mental health, Burnout Betty is easily frustrated or irritable, making it harder to communicate or interact with her, because others don’t want her mood to affect them. One Burnout Betty, Negative Nancy or Toxic Tim can bring a dynamic team to a halt.

Talking to BB can leave the most positive person in a negative state, because she doesn’t listen or she’s in a bad mood. So, every conversation takes longer than it should, which means less time for you to tend to your daily tasks.

Build a task force of people who want to be the eyes and ears in your organization in regards to burnout. They can gather information, ask questions to BB and other team members, and start creating a strategy to combat this epidemic. Then take the information they gather, and do something now to help them prevent it.

This allows BB to know that she is being heard and understood and that she matters. One of the biggest qualities people want in their company is to know they matter. When BB knows she matters, she feels supported, knowing she will get the help she needs to combat burnout.

Hint: Time off is great, but vacation won’t cure burnout. Once you create awareness around it, share with your people day to day strategies that work to help alleviate burnout.

IMPLEMENT A BURNOUT PROGRAM—This is the key, fundamental element. Talking about it is a great beginning, but it’s imperative to do more. The only way to prevent and address burnout is to be intentional and strategic with it. Workplace wellness programs aren’t enough; 97% of them don’t specifically address or help with burnout, which is also why 80% of employees aren’t actively involved in wellness programs.

As a leader, you have to do your part to help your people with burnout. If you want long term results, your organization MUST implement a continual program (not a one and done) to help people like Burnout Betty with burnout and others to prevent it.

A long-term strategy is where the magic happens with burnout. Burnout is a slow crawl, and working through it is multi-layered. Whether it’s an online course, bootcamp or Train the Trainer certification, burnout training is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s imperative if your company wants to keep their top talent and create a happy, thriving workplace and culture.

The most successful burnout programs have these key components: accountability, support, encouragement, and Q&A.

Burnout doesn’t go away on its own. With most industries incurring staff shortages, it’s up to you, as a leader, to invest in your people if you want to keep them. Since the #1 reason why people leave organizations is due to burnout, it’s a huge opportunity for you to end the burnout epidemic by starting the dialogue, creating awareness and implementing a burnout program in your company.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  What will you do to help your people end burnout?

About the Author, Jessica Rector

Jessica Rector, MBA, author of the #1 best-selling “Blaze Your Brain to Extinguish Burnout” and nine other books, helps organizations, leaders, and teams Say Yes to eradicate burnout and enhance mental health.  As a burnout trailblazer, her research is used in her consulting and speaking and often shared on her podcast, “The Say Yes Experience.” For how Jessica can help your organization and team, go to www.jessicarector.com

 

The Secrets of Visionary Thinkers:   2 Simple Steps to Crushing Subconscious Assumptions by Susan Robertson

The Secrets of Visionary Thinkers: 2 Simple Steps to Crushing Subconscious Assumptions by Susan Robertson

When we think about famous visionary thinkers, we subconsciously assume that they have some magic characteristic that the rest of don’t have or can’t achieve.  But in reality, the only magic they have is an intuitive understanding of how to avoid some very common creative thinking blocks.  One of those blocks is the Curse of Knowledge, a cognitive bias, or mental shortcut, that all humans share.

Stuck Inside the Box:  The Curse of Knowledge

You’ve probably heard the term “Thinking outside the box.”  And you’ve probably, at some point in your career, been asked the think outside the box.  But without any understanding of why the box is there or how it was created, it’s hard to know how to break out of it.  The reality is that we each create our own “box”, through this Curse of Knowledge.

To understand this concept, imagine for a moment that your task is to think of new ideas for salad dressing. Try to come up with a few in your mind right now – don’t skip ahead!

Chances are, the ideas that came to your mind were incremental variations of existing flavors or ingredients.  You may have thought of fruit-flavored dressing.  Or spicy, chipotle dressing.  Or perhaps dressing that’s flavored like your favorite cocktail.  Or your favorite dessert.

All really interesting ideas, IF you are only looking for ideas that don’t change the current nature of salad dressing, nor the way it’s currently manufactured, packaged, sold, or used. The task was to find NEW ideas for salad dressing.  That challenge was not limited to simply new flavors, but your brain likely limited your thinking to mostly just new flavors.

Here’s why incremental ideas tend to be the first, and sometimes the only, kind of ideas to emerge. All humans rely on past knowledge to subconsciously try to shortcut problem-solving. We instantly – and subconsciously – call on everything we know from the past to come up with solutions for the new problem. While this ability to call on past learning is an incredibly useful trait in many situations (it’s one of the reasons we’re at the top of the food chain), when you’re looking for new ideas and solutions, it actually becomes a significant barrier. It limits your thinking to nothing but slight variations of what already exists.

The minute you saw the words “salad dressing”, your brain made a bunch of instantaneous assumptions that you’re likely not aware of.  Those assumptions were probably things like:

  • Salad dressing comes in a bottle.
  • It’s liquid.
  • It’s stored in the refrigerator.
  • It’s used on lettuce.
  • Salad is eaten from a bowl or plate.
  • Salad is eaten with a fork.

Using the salad dressing challenge again, now assume one of the above “facts” does NOT have to be true. What ideas could you come up with then?   You might think of ideas like:

  • Salad dressing that you heat in the microwave (not cold).
  • Dressing for fruit, or for meat (not used on lettuce).
  • A powder whose full flavor is activated when it contacts the moisture of the lettuce (not liquid).
  • Salad dressing in the form of a wrap, so you can eat the salad on the go (salad isn’t served on a plate).
  • Salad dressing in the form of an edible skewer (salad isn’t eaten with a fork).

As you can see, the nature of the ideas that arise after crushing the imbedded assumptions is dramatically different from the ideas that came before.  That’s because your brain is no longer limiting your creativity with artificial guardrails that may not actually exist and that you weren’t even consciously aware of.

Interestingly, the more expertise you have in an area, the more of these limiting assumptions you have subconsciously imbedded in your thinking.  So, as an expert in your field, you likely have MANY imbedded assumptions that you’re not aware of, but that are likely impeding your creative thinking in a significant way.

The Cure: Assumption Crushing™ Process:

Fortunately, there is an antidote to the curse of knowledge.  Assumption Crushing™ is a technique that involves consciously surfacing and challenging our hidden assumptions.

Assumption Crushing™ Step 1:   Surface your subconscious assumptions by generating a long list of statements that start with things like:

  • Well, in our business everyone knows…
  • We have to…
  • Our product is/does/has…
  • Well, of course …
  • We could never…

Be sure to list some really obvious, superficial, or seemingly trivial “facts,” observations, processes, etc.  Sometimes breaking the obvious ones can lead to the most innovative ideas.  For example, the fact that salad dressing is liquid seems fairly trivial.  But breaking that assumption led to some truly breakthrough ideas.

Assumption Crushing™ Step 2:   Once you’ve come up with a long list, pick one that may not have to be true, and start to think of new ideas based on breaking that one. Then pick another and do it again.  And again.  You’ll amaze yourself with the innovative ideas you come up with.

Remember that the Curse of Knowledge is based on experience and expertise.  Many people often assume that the best way to get new thinking, new ideas, and new solutions is to bring together a bunch of experts on the topic.  But the reality is that all those experts will have a very similar set of subconscious mental frameworks.  (They’ll all have essentially the same Curse of Knowledge.). A better way to generate new ideas is to invite a few experts, and then several other people with different experiences, knowledge, and perspectives.  Those non-experts will help force the experts to confront and overcome their curse of knowledge.

The Curse of Knowledge is a formidable adversary that exists in our brains all the time and hinders our visionary potential. By embracing Assumption Crushing™, we can shatter the chains that confine our thinking and unlock the path to visionary breakthroughs.

About the Author:

Susan Robertson empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to more nimbly adapt to change, by transforming thinking from “why we can’t” to “how might we?”  She is a creative thinking expert with over 20 years of experience speaking and coaching in Fortune 500 companies.  As an instructor on applied creativity at Harvard, Susan brings a scientific foundation to enhancing human creativity.  To learn more, please go to: SusanRobertsonSpeaker.com.