The Burnout Battle: Why Leaders Must Lead the Charge By Jessica Rector

The Burnout Battle: Why Leaders Must Lead the Charge By Jessica Rector

Burnout is impacting every industry, company and role. There are no exceptions.  Leaders often find themselves in the trenches, navigating through the chaos, and driving their teams towards success. However, amidst the pursuit of goals and objectives, there’s a lurking enemy that can undermine all efforts – burnout.   In the burnout battle, we often find the great divide.

Leaders believe that their employees aren’t being impacted by burnout or that their people have everything they need to beat it.   Yet, employees are struggling in the day to day and believe they don’t have the strategies, tools or support to help them.   We call this the burnout gap (the distance between what leaders think and how employees feel).

Much of the burnout battle, begins with educating leaders not only on the importance of burnout but also the urgency of it, because burnout won’t go away on its own or work itself out. You must be intentional and strategic as a leader and organization to prevent it.  Our research has uncovered two components of burnout: the company and individuals. More specifically, a company’s culture and an individual’s habits.  If one of these is misaligned it will lead to burnout. Your organization might have a wellness program, but that solely focuses on what employees can do to prevent or beat burnout in themselves, so it leaves out almost half of the contributing factors for burnout.

In other words, if employees work through a wellness program, they will still be headed toward burnout, because it doesn’t incorporate the company side of the contributing factors to burnout. For leaders, preventing burnout is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must do.   Here’s why it’s crucial for leaders to take proactive measures to prevent and combat burnout within their teams, along with microstep, a small action leaders can take for massive results.

Burnout Kills Productivity

Burnout doesn’t just sap employees’ energy and enthusiasm; it also wreaks havoc on productivity. Exhausted and disengaged workers are far less likely to perform at their peak, resulting in missed deadlines, more mistakes, and decreased efficiency. The detrimental outcomes often can lead to safety issues and enhance cybersecurity attacks. When leaders fail to address burnout, they inadvertently sabotage their team’s performance and jeopardize the organization’s bottom line.

Microstep: Find one way to acknowledge or appreciate your people at least on a weekly basis. When employees get recognition six times a year (once every other month), performance increases by 32%, according to WorkHuman. Imagine if they received recognition weekly how much their performance would increase.

Burnout Breeds Disengagement

A burned-out workforce is a disengaged workforce. When employees feel overwhelmed and undervalued, their commitment to the job dwindles, and they become more prone to absenteeism and turnover, which costs U.S. employers $300 billion annually due to burnout. Leaders who turn a blind eye to burnout risk losing their top talent to competitors and creating a toxic culture of apathy and discontent.

Microstep: Address the elephant in the room and start talking about burnout. When you talk about burnout, employees lean in and become engaged, knowing that you’re creating a safe place where they will be met with compassion, empathy, and understanding. They recognize their work community is operating on the same foundation on which they can all build and thrive.

Burnout Undermines Creativity and Innovation

Innovation thrives in environments where individuals are energized, motivated, and encouraged to think outside the box. Unfortunately, burnout stifles creativity and dampens innovation. Exhausted minds lack the clarity and focus needed to generate fresh ideas and problem-solve effectively. By neglecting to address burnout, leaders inadvertently stifle their team’s creativity and hinder their organization’s ability to adapt and thrive in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

Microstep: Encourage frequent breaks. You people are most productive when you work for 50 minutes and take a 10-minute break. Instead of pushing through to finish a project or a task, give their brains the time and space to unwind and decompress. When they get back to it, they’re more creative and innovative and are able to finish things faster by taking that much needed break.

Burnout Damages Health and Well-being

Beyond its impact on productivity and performance, burnout takes a significant toll on employees’ health and well-being. Chronic stress and overwork can lead to a host of physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, cardiovascular problems, and weakened immune systems. Leaders who prioritize the bottom line over their team’s well-being not only jeopardize individual health but also incur long-term costs in terms of healthcare expenses and employee morale.

Microstep: Implement more fun into the work days. Fun and work aren’t mutually exclusive. The more fun employees have at work, the more they will stay at the company. Fun shows up in different ways for people. Trivia, contests, ropes courses, or karaoke—ask them what they like to do for fun and then do it.

Burnout Leads to Leadership Failure

Ultimately, leaders bear the responsibility for the well-being and success of their teams. Failing to address burnout is a failure of leadership. Leaders who ignore the warning signs of burnout, or worse, contribute to its proliferation through unrealistic expectations and poor management practices, risk damaging their reputation and undermining their credibility as effective leaders. The ability to recognize, prevent, and address burnout is a fundamental skill that separates great leaders from mediocre ones.

Microstep: Do a two-word check in. Ask your team, “How are you really feeling,” and don’t allow them to say, “Fine.” Inspire them to tap into other feelings. When they say anxious, stressed, depressed, sad, hesitant or words like these, it’s an opportunity to dive into a deeper conversation and ask, “How can I help,” which lets them know you care about them as a real person and not just a worker.

The battle against burnout is more critical than ever. Leaders who prioritize the well-being of their employees and take proactive steps to prevent and combat burnout are not only fostering a healthier and more engaged workforce but also safeguarding the long-term success of their organizations. By leading by example, cultivating a supportive work culture, and promoting life-work alignment, leaders can empower their teams to thrive under any circumstance. Remember, the fight against burnout begins at the top – and it’s a battle worth waging.

About the Author, Jessica Rector

Jessica Rector, MBA, author of the #1 best-selling “Blaze Your Brain to Extinguish Burnout” and nine other books, helps organizations, leaders, and teams Say Yes to eradicate burnout and enhance mental health.  As a burnout trailblazer, her research is used in her consulting and speaking and often shared on her podcast, “The Say Yes Experience.” For how Jessica can help your organization and team, go to www.jessicarector.com

 

Five Ways to Make Joy a Core KPI by Liz Matthews & Amy Jo Martin

Five Ways to Make Joy a Core KPI by Liz Matthews & Amy Jo Martin

Are you happy at work? Here’s how to boost the often-overlooked KPI of joy.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are foundational to most jobs. These useful measurements help companies understand progress over time. But beyond revenue growth and profit margin, there’s one KPI some managers overlook: JOY!

How happy are your employees? Perhaps more importantly, what’s your own level of joy in your job? At Dell Technologies and at Renegade Global—a consulting practice that helps people invest in their personal brand and growth—we see the people in our businesses, not just the professionals.

Make Play Nonnegotiable!

Play goes hand in hand with curiosity, which in turn fuels engagement. When you prioritize play, you combat opposing feelings of burnout and even depression.

Diversify Your Sources of Happiness

There are different kinds of happiness: “rock star,” which you might experience after a big win; “flow,” which happens when you’re caught up in something you enjoy; and “higher purpose,” which occurs when you focus on something bigger than yourself. You need all three.

Avoid the Three Ps (Perfectionish, People Pleasing & Personalizing)

Of the common pitfalls people tend to fall into at work, three Ps top the list: perfectionism (seeking an unattainable standard), people-pleasing (never putting yourself first) and personalizing (making things “about you”). Be sure to give yourself—and others—the grace to make mistakes. Prioritize your own needs and remember that not everything is personal.

Overcome Difficult Conversations

Effective communication is an art form. When you have a difficult conversation ahead, consider the following steps:

  • Vent to a neutral third party (not colleagues) to release tension.
  • Empathize with the other person’s perspective.
  • Rehearse what you want to say.
  • Ask for what you need—then stop talking.
  • Check in weekly.

Here at Dell and within Renegade Global, we have seen great results with weekly check-ins, asking questions such as:

  1. Which activities did I love?
  2. Which ones did I loathe?
  3. What are my priorities?
  4. What help do others need from me?

With these tips in mind, you can transcend clichés about work-life balance and make joy a core Key Performance Indicator of your job.

Authors:  Liz Matthews is a Senior Vice President of Global Brand, Dell Technologies, and Amy Jo Martin, CEO and founder, Renegade Global

 

Why I Joined the American Business Women’s Association by Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson, Ph.D.

Why I Joined the American Business Women’s Association by Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson, Ph.D.

To view the complete video, “WHY I JOINED ABWA” – Click the link and/or copy and paste the link into the internet search field:  https://youtu.be/iqHYOG_rmcg

About ABWA Member, Dr. Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson

Dr. Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson is a dynamic innovative business executive; her expertise is leadership training and development, strategic planning, and organizational development. An articulate, diplomatic, interpersonal communicator with an uncommon ability to influence, motivate, inspire, and communicate with diverse constituents,

A native of San Francisco, she is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, the University of Phoenix, where she earned a Master’s of Business Administration and Capella University where she earned a Doctorate in Human Services.

Ka’Ryn presently serves as the Executive Director of ACCEL San Mateo County Adult Education Consortium where she leads a Ka’Ryn leads a coalition of regional education, training, business and industry partners bridging the gap between employer demand for an educated and skilled workforce and the supply of workers with the necessary skills for a 21st century labor market.

As a former Associate Director for the American Diabetes Association, San Francisco Bay Area, Ka’Ryn received honors as the recipient of a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in 2015 from the Honorable Barbara Lee 13th Congressional District of California, In Recognition of Dedication to Educating the Community About Diabetes & the Importance of Health Care.

Ka’Ryn has over 20 years’ experience serving in Executive Management in corporate, for profit, not-for-profit, non-profit, and education Sectors.  She is the CEO of A’Ryze Consulting; a Certified Executive Coach, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Facilitator, and has over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry and is a licensed financial services representative.

Awards & Recognition:

  • 2023 Top Ten Business Woman, American Business Women’s Association
  • 2019 Woman of Distinction, American Business Women’s Association
  • 2018 Commendation Board of Supervisors of San Mateo County, California
    for Leadership in our Communities
  • 2015 Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the Honorable Barbara Lee 13th Congressional District of California, In Recognition of Dedication to Educating the Community About Diabetes & the Importance of Health Care.

 

 

The Secrets of Visionary Thinkers:   2 Simple Steps to Crushing Subconscious Assumptions by Susan Robertson

The Secrets of Visionary Thinkers: 2 Simple Steps to Crushing Subconscious Assumptions by Susan Robertson

When we think about famous visionary thinkers, we subconsciously assume that they have some magic characteristic that the rest of don’t have or can’t achieve.  But in reality, the only magic they have is an intuitive understanding of how to avoid some very common creative thinking blocks.  One of those blocks is the Curse of Knowledge, a cognitive bias, or mental shortcut, that all humans share.

Stuck Inside the Box:  The Curse of Knowledge

You’ve probably heard the term “Thinking outside the box.”  And you’ve probably, at some point in your career, been asked the think outside the box.  But without any understanding of why the box is there or how it was created, it’s hard to know how to break out of it.  The reality is that we each create our own “box”, through this Curse of Knowledge.

To understand this concept, imagine for a moment that your task is to think of new ideas for salad dressing. Try to come up with a few in your mind right now – don’t skip ahead!

Chances are, the ideas that came to your mind were incremental variations of existing flavors or ingredients.  You may have thought of fruit-flavored dressing.  Or spicy, chipotle dressing.  Or perhaps dressing that’s flavored like your favorite cocktail.  Or your favorite dessert.

All really interesting ideas, IF you are only looking for ideas that don’t change the current nature of salad dressing, nor the way it’s currently manufactured, packaged, sold, or used. The task was to find NEW ideas for salad dressing.  That challenge was not limited to simply new flavors, but your brain likely limited your thinking to mostly just new flavors.

Here’s why incremental ideas tend to be the first, and sometimes the only, kind of ideas to emerge. All humans rely on past knowledge to subconsciously try to shortcut problem-solving. We instantly – and subconsciously – call on everything we know from the past to come up with solutions for the new problem. While this ability to call on past learning is an incredibly useful trait in many situations (it’s one of the reasons we’re at the top of the food chain), when you’re looking for new ideas and solutions, it actually becomes a significant barrier. It limits your thinking to nothing but slight variations of what already exists.

The minute you saw the words “salad dressing”, your brain made a bunch of instantaneous assumptions that you’re likely not aware of.  Those assumptions were probably things like:

  • Salad dressing comes in a bottle.
  • It’s liquid.
  • It’s stored in the refrigerator.
  • It’s used on lettuce.
  • Salad is eaten from a bowl or plate.
  • Salad is eaten with a fork.

Using the salad dressing challenge again, now assume one of the above “facts” does NOT have to be true. What ideas could you come up with then?   You might think of ideas like:

  • Salad dressing that you heat in the microwave (not cold).
  • Dressing for fruit, or for meat (not used on lettuce).
  • A powder whose full flavor is activated when it contacts the moisture of the lettuce (not liquid).
  • Salad dressing in the form of a wrap, so you can eat the salad on the go (salad isn’t served on a plate).
  • Salad dressing in the form of an edible skewer (salad isn’t eaten with a fork).

As you can see, the nature of the ideas that arise after crushing the imbedded assumptions is dramatically different from the ideas that came before.  That’s because your brain is no longer limiting your creativity with artificial guardrails that may not actually exist and that you weren’t even consciously aware of.

Interestingly, the more expertise you have in an area, the more of these limiting assumptions you have subconsciously imbedded in your thinking.  So, as an expert in your field, you likely have MANY imbedded assumptions that you’re not aware of, but that are likely impeding your creative thinking in a significant way.

The Cure: Assumption Crushing™ Process:

Fortunately, there is an antidote to the curse of knowledge.  Assumption Crushing™ is a technique that involves consciously surfacing and challenging our hidden assumptions.

Assumption Crushing™ Step 1:   Surface your subconscious assumptions by generating a long list of statements that start with things like:

  • Well, in our business everyone knows…
  • We have to…
  • Our product is/does/has…
  • Well, of course …
  • We could never…

Be sure to list some really obvious, superficial, or seemingly trivial “facts,” observations, processes, etc.  Sometimes breaking the obvious ones can lead to the most innovative ideas.  For example, the fact that salad dressing is liquid seems fairly trivial.  But breaking that assumption led to some truly breakthrough ideas.

Assumption Crushing™ Step 2:   Once you’ve come up with a long list, pick one that may not have to be true, and start to think of new ideas based on breaking that one. Then pick another and do it again.  And again.  You’ll amaze yourself with the innovative ideas you come up with.

Remember that the Curse of Knowledge is based on experience and expertise.  Many people often assume that the best way to get new thinking, new ideas, and new solutions is to bring together a bunch of experts on the topic.  But the reality is that all those experts will have a very similar set of subconscious mental frameworks.  (They’ll all have essentially the same Curse of Knowledge.). A better way to generate new ideas is to invite a few experts, and then several other people with different experiences, knowledge, and perspectives.  Those non-experts will help force the experts to confront and overcome their curse of knowledge.

The Curse of Knowledge is a formidable adversary that exists in our brains all the time and hinders our visionary potential. By embracing Assumption Crushing™, we can shatter the chains that confine our thinking and unlock the path to visionary breakthroughs.

About the Author:

Susan Robertson empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to more nimbly adapt to change, by transforming thinking from “why we can’t” to “how might we?”  She is a creative thinking expert with over 20 years of experience speaking and coaching in Fortune 500 companies.  As an instructor on applied creativity at Harvard, Susan brings a scientific foundation to enhancing human creativity.  To learn more, please go to: SusanRobertsonSpeaker.com.

Why Innovations Should Be More Like Easter Eggs by Susan Robertson

Why Innovations Should Be More Like Easter Eggs by Susan Robertson

Every year in the spring, Amy B., a buyer for a large retail chain store, hosts an Easter egg decorating teambuilding party, where she and a bunch of her suppliers spend an entire afternoon coloring and bedazzling hard-boiled eggs. None of them bring their kids—they do this for the sheer pleasure of out-of-the office bonding, creating interesting and attractive objects. The group is always amazed at the creativity of the resulting eggs. (And in case you’re wondering, no, none of them are artists.)

So why, as adults, don’t people exercise their inner child-like creativity more often? And what is it about the Easter egg party that allows them to so freely generate and express such range and diversity of ideas? There are several factors—all of which also apply to innovation.

Each egg represents a very low commitment.

It is cheap in both time and materials to try any idea they think of, so they try lots of ideas. If one doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter—it’s just one egg. Similarly, in your innovation work, you need to consider and try out many ideas, to ensure that only the best ones move forward. As innovation projects proceed through a company, they get more expensive—in money, time, and labor—at each successive phase. Developing Fail Fast, Fail Cheap methodologies allows you to try out lots of ideas early on, while it’s still cheap.

They leverage not only individual creativity, but also use the power of the group.

Someone will think of an idea to try, and then toss it out to the group. Then everyone contributes ideas for how best to accomplish it. No one ever says, “Yes, but that won’t work.” Everyone just thinks of ways to help make it better. The resulting final solutions are nearly always significantly better than what the person would have tried originally.

In many companies, the “Yes, But” phenomenon is all too common, and can be very damaging to creativity and innovation. Most ideas aren’t perfect when they’re first conceived, but teams act like they should be. They point out all the problems in an emerging idea before they ever attempt to find out if there’s anything good about it. For innovation and creative problem solving to thrive, it’s critical to create an environment that nurtures ideas rather than stifles them, so you get the benefit of the best thinking of the entire team.

They are willing to start over when something clearly isn’t working.

One woman brought eggs that were not naturally white; instead, they were brown. It wasn’t clear that dyeing them would work very well, if at all. And, in fact, the first few attempts didn’t work. So, she scraped off all the color on her unsuccessful eggs several times. But when she chose red, yellow, and orange colors and left them in the dye bath long enough, she got some of the most uniquely rich and vividly colored eggs anyone had ever seen.

Unfortunately, in large organizations, too many innovation projects that aren’t quite hitting the mark proceed too far. It’s important to recognize when an idea isn’t working, and then be willing to start again when you need to.

Reframing the goal results in more divergent ideas.

The woman with the brown eggs also tried other methods of decorating the eggs, not just coloring them with dye. Once she reframed the problem from coloring eggs to decorating eggs, everyone else also began creating the most innovative and unusual eggs of all. This reframing of the problem is a critical step in effective problem-solving and innovation. This is because the way a problem is stated affects the potential solutions you will think of. So when addressing any obstacle, it’s a good idea to question the way the challenge or problem is worded, to see if you can reframe it to get to different and better solutions.

So the next time you find yourself with eggs to decorate—or a challenge to meet—keep these tips in mind to help you think more creatively and come up with more innovative solutions.

  • Fail fast, fail cheap. Test many possible ideas.
  • Leverage individual and group creativity; “Yes, and” instead of “Yes, but”.
  • Be willing to start over when the idea isn’t working.
  • Reframe the opportunity to expand your thinking.

About the Author:

Susan Robertson empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to more nimbly adapt to change, by transforming thinking from “why we can’t” to “how might we?” She is a creative thinking expert with over 20 years of experience speaking and coaching in Fortune 500 companies. As an instructor on applied creativity at Harvard, Susan brings a scientific foundation to enhancing human creativity. To learn more, please go to: SusanRobertsonSpeaker.com.

Gather, Grow And Refill Your Team’s Energy Tank With These Four Steps By Laurie Guest

Gather, Grow And Refill Your Team’s Energy Tank With These Four Steps By Laurie Guest

There’s never a perfect time to pause your day-to-day work and focus on the internal team, but when you do make the effort, the dividends are immediate. Setting aside an hour, a half-day, a two-day retreat or anything you can manage as a team will provide the opportunity to gather together, grow as a team and refill your collective energy tank in order to bust out of service fatigue and return to delivering excellent customer service in every interaction.

Refill the Team’s Energy

Your first step to regaining the capacity to do your work at your fullest potential is to heighten self-awareness and lean into the responsibility that you must refill your tank. Just like a video game avatar who seizes every opportunity to grab more energy for their harrowing journey ahead, you also need to seek out and embrace the chance to replenish yourselves wherever you find it. The good news is there are easy, actionable ways to find and create more energy for yourself and your whole team. It starts with committing to a “Gather and Grow” mentality that brings a team together (virtually or in person) and facilitates the kind of growth that fills your team’s energy tank and returns your business to a thriving state in the marketplace.

This four-step G.R.O.W. process will show you exactly how.

G – Game On!

Gaming at work might not be an intuitive way to encourage your team to spend their time. But gaming on the job is an easy way to bring hearts and minds together in pursuit of your common professional goals. Friendly sales competitions, staff meetings with moments of levity, and experiential outings with your team are all impactful ways to bust out of service fatigue.  To take your workplace gaming to the next level, consider uniting over a cooperative strategy that can break the boredom or monotony of a day. You can boost teamwork qualities through games that bring a team around a collective purpose and goal. These types of efforts are shown to reduce stress and help participants cope with work-related fatigue.

R – Rule Reminders

It seems every business needed to adjust rules, policies, and offerings over the last two years to accommodate the global crisis. Process procedures changed for everything from hotel housekeeping to checking out books from your local library! Frequent change without strong internal communication leads to trouble. Making time to “accuracy audit” will help your team find their footing again when it comes to customer instruction.

Conducting an accuracy audit is easier than it sounds, and it’s the perfect agenda for the next time the team gathers together. Does your website match the current offerings? Do all members of the team know the current rules, even if they only work a few hours a week? Is everyone clear on the current processes of your organization internally and externally? Francis Ford Coppola, the famous film director, was once asked what his secret to success is. He answered, “The first thing I do is make sure that everyone is set is making the same movie.” You are the director of your workplace set. Get all the characters on the same page.

O – Optimism

The dedication to sincerely working toward a better tomorrow is imperative for personal and professional growth. That’s not to say that finding the silver lining in every situation is easy. Far from it. However, when a crowd gathers, its members can feed off each other’s attitudes, mindsets, and perceptions, the good and bad vibes quickly dominoing from one person to the next. For example, observe any boat-rocker on staff who starts a rumor laced with a little over-the-top emotion and see how fast the fire spreads ill-will among the team. Disaster!

However, only you can prevent forest fires! Take the time to gather regularly (even if in a virtual format) and stay in positive communication to decrease the chance of an unnecessary negative spark. Strive to provide frequent updates, truthful status reports, and lead by example with your own optimistic attitude.

W – Warm Welcomes

The odds are good that when your team gathers the next time, there will be new faces on board. Don’t underestimate the power of a warm welcome. No one likes the feeling of being the “new kid in school” and your compassion and kindness (regardless of your position at the company) can go a long way to get new staff off to a great start with the team. Remember to share those unwritten rules everyone else knows about (like, “Use any coffee mug except the purple one with the smiley face. That’s Sandy’s and you all know not to touch it.”) Consider assigning a first-week buddy to each new team member to help shave the learning curve and make them feel at more at home.

Making the time to G.R.O.W. (group gaming, rules review, optimistic outlooks, and warm welcomes) will reboot the energy tank of your organization and make sure everyone is busting out of Service Fatigue with full power and a positive outlook.

About the Author, Laurie Guest

A Hall of Fame keynote speaker and author, Laurie Guest, CSP, CPAE, is an authority on customer service excellence. Laurie blends real-life examples and proven action steps for improvement. She is the author of two books and is writing a third on the topic of service fatigue. To learn more or connect with Laurie, visit www.LaurieGuest.com