In today’s ever evolving corporate world, the only constant is change. And with change comes learning new technology, new responsibilities, taking on greater workloads and covering roles that may not necessarily fall to you or your team’s area of expertise. Even the most amazing Rock Star Teams BURNOUT – yes whole teams of people burn out! According to the Mayo Clinic, “Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress – a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”
Right now my team and I are teetering on the edge of this. We ALWAYS have multiple major deadlines to hit (the massive assembly line of deadlines never seems to end). We work non-stop without taking a lunch break or a breath of air. Our eyes burn from looking at excel docs. Our backs hurt from being hunched over our laptops and we feel incredibly anxious about hitting these important timelines.
So as a Leader, what do I do?
- While a corporate culture may exist, as a Leader I create my own CULTURE for my team which may differ from the corporate culture. I didn’t invent this idea. I learned this from a former manager who is an amazing leader. (So, you can see how being a great leader has a wonderful ripple effect). My team culture is very people focused and involves a lot of communication, time to celebrate wins and check-ins with the team to see how they are holding up under all the pressure. We still need to hit our deadlines, but it is done with a tremendous amount of humanism. It’s easy to feel like a mere cog in a wheel of a big money making machine in the corporate world, so it’s important to have a human element in everything I do. I also constantly remind myself of this, because it becomes very easy to slip into the corporate culture of “Go, go, go, move faster, get more done…!!” Sometimes I have to pause and say, “Wait a minute, at the end of the day, what is this really all about? What is life really all about?” To me, it’s about people, relationships and human interaction…and that brings me back to my foundation again.
- We all work as a TEAM. Of course each person on my team has their role and responsibilities, yet I am as hands-on as everyone on my team when we have a major deadline. No one on the team is beyond doing menial or administrative work to get it all done, regardless of title or salary.
- I encourage creative thinking and new ideas. I tell each person on the team not to be afraid to ask questions and collaborate. I’m open to hearing new ideas to shape our team and department’s structure. Technology and the corporate world are constantly evolving and it’s imperative to keep up with it all so, we as professionals, don’t become obsolete. I give my team the freedom to bring their point of view and new ideas into the mix and it makes us all stronger. As a Director I can’t possibly be in the “know” of all new technology, industry developments, agency insights, etc. I am smart enough to know that I can’t go it alone, so my team’s fresh eyes and fresh ideas are of great value. And they, in turn, feel heard and valued.
- I know when my brain and body need to shut off; and that means my team also will need to shut off. There just comes a time when I have don’t have an ounce more of brain power. I can no longer focus and I know I will make errors if I continue. That is when I shut off, head home, relax and focus on ME time. I tell the team to do the same. I also respect their personal time (vacations and weekends) so that we have time to re-energize.
- I encourage the team to work from home one a day a week because sometimes working in your PJ’s just feels GOOD.
The end result? We work hard, we adapt to new ways of working, we move swiftly and we work late when we need to. We are creating something that has not been done before, so being open-minded and flexible is important. These strategies allow me and my team to feel like our hard work is recognized and rewarded. AND we also have time for the things we love to do outside of our corporate careers – a Winning Strategy all around in my book of Leadership!