People are sociable beings and they take their energy from socializing with other people and being part of a group. This is one of the reasons companies have work-groups and teams that can help and support each other with emotional and informational resources.
More and more people feel exhausted which prevents them from coping with challenges and hardships in a healthy manner. Burnout has been declared a mental disease and many people are beginning to be aware of its effects that have long been ignored.
People have begun to understand the importance of mental health and well-being at the workplace. Poor mental health will affect your motivation and productivity levels which also has effects on your team.
Burnout can happen to anyone, from managers to team members; yet knowing how to deal with it and helping others do the same can make the difference. Here are some ways you, as a leader who may be experiencing burnout yourself, can help your team cope.
Lead by Example
As a leader you need to set and be an example for your team. This is more difficult when talking about burnout, especially if you are experiencing it yourself.
I have worked for an IT company for five years. In the last 3 three years I was the leader of the recruitment team. Being a manager comes with pressure from the higher-ups and with constant efforts to keep my team motivated and engaged.
Its effects on my behavior were obvious: I was angry, irritated, stressed by any task, never available for my team and forever busy. This is not okay considering that I was the leader. I was the one who should guide and help them, especially during difficult times when they experience burnout.
I tried to help my team even though I was dealing with difficulties myself. I learned that it is important to take regular breaks and not stress over anything. It is important not to run from meeting to meeting, then rush to accomplish important tasks before the deadline.
Be an example for your team/ This will help them understand that stress is damaging for their mental health and it has an effect on the whole team. Encourage them to take breaks and relax. Find some short and engaging games to play with your team at the office.
Openly Discuss the Topic with Your Team
As everyone already knows, communication is very important when working in a team. You need to share information and support each other. As a team leader, you must pay attention to your team’s behavior. When team members experience burnout, their motivation and productivity levels drop. They can’t accomplish easy tasks and are always irritated.
Experts point to team communication as a way to solve problems and overcome hardships. I noticed that my team members were starting to copy my behavior. They started to have bad eating habits, not taking any breaks and always rushing candidates or colleagues. I was aware that I displayed the same behavior so I held a face-to-face casual meeting where we discussed details about our jobs and tasks.
We were compassionate towards each other which helped us form a more cohesive team. We shared our knowledge on burnout and on methods to overcome it. This was one of the best approaches I could have taken. We also shared and discussed team behaviors that worsen the situation.
For example, I was always irritated when they sent me an email and then rushed to my office to ask me if I received it. They were frustrated because they had tight deadlines and lots of tasks to accomplish. We eventually worked that out through group communication.
Take Care of Your Team
That first face-to-face meeting with the team opened my eyes. All that time I was selfish and naive to think that we can do everything in no time. I have always thought that my team and I are capable of recruiting for all the open positions within the company in just one week. I have since realized that I pushed my team too much because I was being pushed and stressed by the higher-ups.
Mental health is important at the workplace and you, as a leader, need to advocate for your team. If you have too many tasks, too tight deadlines, too few breaks, you need to make a change. Talk with your superiors and expose the situation as it is. Burnout is a real thing and it affects employees’ and teams’ productivity as well as their health. Always being tired and not having the mental resources to cope with difficult moments makes you feel worse.
Propose some solutions and discuss them with your boss. Maybe the meetings can be shorter. Maybe deadlines can be extended or the number of tasks reduced. Maybe you need to increase job resources so some training can be organized. Find the best solution for you and your team.
Be a Source of Positivity
This is difficult and challenging if you are experiencing burnout, too. Negative emotions and feelings can easily absorb you and prevent you from seeing the full part of the glass. Positivity, compassion, kindness and optimism can lift you up and help your team overcome these moments.
Feeling you are part of a group that has the same problems, but is trying to cope with them together, can help gain your energy and resources. Even if I found it hard to smile, I tried to be positive for my team which helped me be more present. I have started to thank them for their efforts and express appreciation for the work they have done.
It might seem like a small, insignificant thing; but it lifted their mood instantly. The team began to be more optimistic and mindful which led them to be more at peace with themselves and the team. Just like writers celebrate hitting a milestone, you can do the same with your team. Celebrations are a source of positivity and they will help everyone cope with future challenges.
Burnout is real. As a leader, one of the most difficult moments is when you and your team are experiencing this. Discuss the topic openly with your team, share your knowledge on the subject and try to find solutions together. Be positive and promote mindfulness within the team. Talk with your boss and consider extending deadlines and reducing the workload.