My mission is to help others avoid burnout and find fulfillment. And I’ve been having some wonderful dialogue with others on this topic. But recently, someone asked me what (if any) role a leader has in helping his/her team members avoid burnout and sustain high performance.
I have some thoughts on this. Based on my experience I believe that a leader does play a role and there are several proactive measures to put in place. Here are some of them:
- There is a difference between stretching a team member and stretching too thin. One can lead to growth, the other to burnout. Each team member has a certain high water mark in terms of workload and a leader shouldn’t assume each is the same. Stretch them, then allow for a recharge from the stretch. If a rubber band remains in a stretched position, it will eventually break.
2. A leader should ensure each team member has the autonomy to make the appropriate decisions to execute their job. Imagine how deflating it is to do all the work necessary, take a project right to the finish line, but you have to wait for someone else to make the call that you should be able to make. This sucks the air right out of the process and can quickly introduce cynicism into the equation for your team member.
3. Make sure your team is properly trained and resourced to do their job. This seems obvious, but I’ve been in situations in the past where I wasn’t trained on how to do something and that was really frustrating!
4. Celebrate successes and accomplishments (this presupposes you know how each of your team members prefers to be celebrated). Creating an annual sales budget in October for the upcoming year and then not celebrating along the way if you’re beating that budget is a great way to demotivate your team!
5. Creating a culture of trust within your team such that if/when a team member is feeling exhausted, or burnt out, they feel comfortable telling you and won’t fear you’ll perceive it as laziness.
6. Make sure systems and processes are in place so when a team member is on vacation, they don’t have to respond to emails and phone calls and can actually ENJOY their time away and recharge (critical in order to stay performing at a high level).
7. Probably most important, if you as a leader are burnt out, or on a path towards it, your team members will likely feel it and that can cause an environment and culture conducive to the same result. Making sure you are following the work life rhythm – periods of intense work followed by periods of deep recharging – is the best way you can accomplish this.
I hope this serves you! While ultimately the responsibility to sustain high performance falls on the shoulders of said team member, a leader can assist in these ways!