Leaders Have a Hand in Burnout

Okay, I am dying to know! If you were to take a typical, pretty average workday, and you were to record how you spend every single minute of the day and then you were to go back and evaluate and reflect on it – I’m dying to know what you would say is the worst part of your day. So take a moment and think about that. You could probably figure it out without actually recording how you spend your time. What’s the worst part of your day? Type it in the comments below, I want to know what is the worst part of your workday?

Now, fingers-crossed, I hope that it is not what the average person says – because the average person shares that the worst part of their day is when they’re spending time with their manager.

Spending time with their manager is the average person’s worst part of their day. I hope that’s not the case for you. And if you are a manager, I hope that’s not the case for your direct reports. Now, last week I shared that Gallup found that when organizations take health and well-being seriously, that their actual performance across the organization increases two and a half times compared to companies who don’t take it seriously.

So if you are a manager, a people manager, a leader, how do we take that data about health and well-being impacting performance, and that most people don’t like spending time with their manager? How do we take these two pieces and create change? What could you do as a leader, proactively, to shift that, to make it so that your direct reports and employees are looking forward to time with their manager, and it directly relates to them feeling that health and well-being are important in your workplace.

If you can successfully do that, you will see an increase in their engagement and their performance. And ultimately, we should see an increase in retaining that top talent. So, what could you as a leader do? It’s really simple: start making health, well-being, burnout part of your regular conversation with your employees. Now that may feel uncomfortable for you, you may be thinking, “Well, Colleen, health and well-being, that shouldn’t be a conversation in the workplace. That’s something they should be taking care of outside of work, that’s their own personal business.”

Absolutely false! In fact, burnout is an officially diagnosable condition by the World Health Organization, and it’s directly, directly related to work.

It is a syndrome when workplace stress is not properly managed. So you as a leader absolutely should be having these conversations, because it’s about work; this is where it all stems from. Employees spend more time on their job than they do anywhere else in their life. So how could you start to integrate this into a regular conversation? I just want to share with you, I have a six step effective one-on-one meeting process that I shared that at my Five-Star Leadership Training and Academy.

What I want to share with you is just simply that when you’re meeting with your direct reports, you can ask them, “Hey, if you were to rate how you’re feeling personally or how you’re feeling in terms of burnout, or how is your health and well-being? If you were to rate that on a scale of 1 to 10 today, what would that number be?” That’s a pretty black and white, even for people who aren’t touchy feely. For you as a leader, your employee, that makes it a little bit safer, a little bit more black and white, where they can choose a number.

From there, they can decide whether or not they want to share the details behind that number, whether it’s high or low, but at least you are opening up the door for a conversation to be had. You’re showing that you care more about, or not more necessarily, but in addition to just, “What project are you working on, give me your updates, what results, what barriers do we have?”

We want to treat people with humanity. We want to show that they’re not just numbers, coming in to deliver a result.

So when you ask them to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how they’re feeling today, in relation to health, well-being, and burnout personally, it opens the door for them to have the conversation. But at minimum, it just allows them to see that you care about them as a human being. That is going to help them see what a difference you can make; it’s going to shift that potentially one of their best times of the day is when they’re having time with their manager, being you.

So if you’re a leader, start opening up that conversation. Check in with your employees, show them that you care about their health, their well-being, and that you care about them as a human being.

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