Three Proven Tips to Banish Burnout
During Uncertain Times
Right now we are navigating the most difficult uncertainty imaginable… the tremulous times of the Covid crisis, unlike any we have faced in 100 years. I began to wonder, how should we respond? How do we help our most valuable assets not burnout?
First it is important to make the distinction that there are situations we can control and situations we cannot control. We cannot control the virus, but we can control how we react, how we communicate and how we lead.
Todd Cherches, CEO of Big Blue Gumball and author of VisuaLeadership explains that loss of control can be stressful. We worry about how long we will have to isolate, and whether we’ll ever get back to normal. How can we perform at our best under these strange conditions?
How do you cope with a crisis which, by definition brings about uncertainty, and how do you help your teams remain calm in a stormy sea of strife?
Susan Schwartz, Executive and Organizational Coach and Trainer, and author of Creating a Greater Whole: A Project Manager’s Guide to Becoming a Leader, advises gathering your team
together and brainstorming, using the following three tips to get started. These tips will help you determine what actions to take in order to cultivate your employees’ peace of mind and productivity.
First, revisit your company mission, core values and definition of corporate culture. The employees look to the C-Suite for a strong symbol of leadership, confidence and the courage to plunge forward into the abyss of the unknown.
Make a priority list in order of most strategic. Focus only on what really matters – your employees and your customers. Without employees you cannot create your product, deliver your service or satisfy your customers. Without your customers, you obviously cannot generate
Create a communication strategy for each of these groups. Decide what you need to convey and how to convey it most effectively. Remember, it’s the employees who communicate with the customers, so Schwartz recommends starting with the employees.
Employees are worried about their finances, their health, and their families. How are they going to do their jobs while working in the new normal, a home-work environment, all while managing their children’s education.
Jim Purcell, Former CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Founder, Returns on Wellbeing Institute explains that employees want reassurance that their job will be there and that you, the leadership, will do your best to keep their jobs intact. They want a promise that you will keep in touch with them weekly and more often as the situation unfolds. They want to know that if you have to deliver the worst case scenario, you do it with grace and clarity and helpful support.
All this unknowing and fear cause stress, and different people experience stress differently. So first and foremost, it is important to be empathetic to the various reactions your teams will exhibit.
When stressed it is very difficult to “keep our heads.” In my new book, Banish Burnout Toolkit, I break down the two most common forms of stress-induced behavior: over-reaction and overgeneralization. The best way to combat those two reactions is to reality spin them. And the best way to help your employees stay grounded in reality is to communicate often and with integrity.
Purcell recommends not hiding behind your desk, even your virtual desk. Ask questions and then listen carefully. Be approachable. Set up a psychologically safe online suggestion box. Employees want to be heard.
On the other side of the coin are the customers. They want to know that they are going to receive the same level and quality of service that they have grown to expect. They want to know what you plan to do to maintain those standards of integrity. They want to be acknowledged and they want to know your plans for their care.
Navigating the testy waters of uncertainty during the Covid era starts and ends with your employees. Without them you would have no company and with emotional intelligence you can banish their burgeoning burnout by caring for them like you would your own children. Express concern when they come to you with a problem and help prevent and eliminate their fears by staying connected often and with empathy. That is how to banish burnout in times of uncertainty.
Janice Litvin is a keynote speaker and workshop leader, specializing in stress and burnout. Her new best-selling book, Banish Burnout Toolkit shows teams how to manage stress from the inside out. The result: lasting behavior change for life. www.JaniceLitvin.com