Is it the fourth month of 2021, or month 16 of 2020? For a lot of us, 2021 has felt much like a continuation of the uncertainty, isolation, and frustration of 2020, in the workplace and beyond.
A lot of us haven’t had that new year resurgence. Maybe we’ve had to miss out on that holiday to Spain we had planned to recharge our batteries. Maybe we haven’t been able to go to the office and catch up with colleagues that have become our best friends.
Most likely, we haven’t really been able to do any of the usual things that break up our days and our lives and give us a reprieve from the everyday. It’s likely that burnout has either happened, is happening, or is about to happen. In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to check in on how your team is doing.
The initial enthusiasm felt by many leaders and their teams to put in place mechanisms to socially connect with one another has, in many cases, waned somewhat since earlier lockdowns as they strive to be ever increasingly more efficient with their time.
People will never commit to their life’s best work or deliver breakthroughs if they are burnt out. Curiosity, passion, and innovation are left as smouldering cinders and it can often be difficult to re-stoke the flame.
There are innumerable reasons that burnout can occur. In the unusual life of lockdown, a lot of these causes have been amplified. If people were already being overly productive, working from home may have amplified that. If people already felt socially disconnected, not being able to go into the office may have amplified that.
This isn’t just an exercise in returning to productivity. Productivity itself can kill ambition and it often can only be focussed on short-term goals. You need your team to have more juice in the tank if you’re going to achieve more long-term ambitions. Funnily enough, for you to be in the most resourceful place possible to prioritise, make good decisions, innovate and seek out your next opportunity you need full batteries. Which is difficult when you are tired.
Leaders need to be present to their people and identify what issues there are. It’s easy to approach it by only thinking of what would cause burnout in yourself personally. But everyone is different, and what causes burnout for one person might not cause it for another.
A leader can’t just listen from their own perspective, they need to empathise with their team. There are probably things that are affecting the team as a whole – perhaps a lack of access to resources as people are working from home. But there are most likely issues with individuals that might fly under the radar as they may not be considered issues from another person’s perspective.
It is time for leaders to stand in the shoes of every single member of their team and see what’s going on for them. Everybody’s circumstances and approach to work are different, and they will be affected in different ways.
Perhaps it’s the extrovert salesperson on your team — who’s always at the water cooler sharing stories and sales tips — that’s missing that social interaction. Or perhaps it’s an introvert on your team who is unhappy they are not getting to share their learnings with other members of the team.
Maybe it’s someone who lives on their own and is feeling isolated, or someone with children at home who feels overwhelmed. Maybe it’s countless other things that may seem insignificant but can have a big impact on the individual experiencing them — and consequently the team as a whole.
Your role as a leader is to be present to the reality of all of your team members and check in with them. It’s vital to understand that burnout is caused by different things for different people and looks like different things in different people.
No judgement can be cast on those who feel burnt out. It has nothing to do with different abilities and resilience levels. It’s down to different styles, circumstances, and communication preferences.
It’s these differences, after all, that makes a team diverse. So it’s time to check in on your team, extinguish burnout, and spark some passion.
Looking to create an impossible future? Get in touch to explore how we can help you ignite your ambitions.
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