I Thought It Was a Job…But It Turned Out to Be Research
It’s been a long time since I posted to this blog. I had accepted a full-time faculty position shortly after my last post, but never thought that the workload would literally overtake my waking hours. Even though I have taught business and HR classes at universities for over 12 years and have always loved the experience, this wasn’t anything that I had anticipated. In fact, I inadvertently proved my theory on what causes and maintains employee burnout during organizational change!
My Burnout During Organizational Change Model (B-DOC, for short) was based on extensive interviewing and research of employees who had burned out when their organizations were attempting to create transformational change. I found important differences in not only the way in which these workers burned out, but also when they started on burnout’s downward spiral. These are the 3 basic burnout-creating categories (what I call the Burnout Triumvirate – or Triple Whammy):
- The individual’s personality and expectations
- Organizational factors that were outside of the employee’s control
- The physical malaises that emerged as a result of these high levels of stress
I also discovered that change leaders burned out at a much slower rate than the change targets (those workers who could not control the changes that they were required to make). Here are the time frames that I found:
- Change leaders usually felt burned out after approximately 1 to 2 years from the launch of the change initiative.
- In sharp contrast, the change targets burned out within 6 months of the start of these changes.
That’s a big difference. Since I was only a faculty member and not in a university leadership position, I too burned out right on schedule at the 6-month mark.
I also found that women tended to burn out much more quickly than men. Once again, I proved my findings by burning out in less than 6 months.
However, one important finding in my initial research was not supported by my experience: I did not deny my symptoms. (My research found that over 35% of workers initially denied that they were beginning to burn out.) Maybe that’s because I’ve been researching burnout during organizational change for over 10 years…
Fortunately, I am no longer involved with this university as a full-time faculty member. However, I think that my experience is very important in fully understanding the burnout phenomenon that is (in my humble opinion) taking over American workforces and consequently leading to poor organizational performance.
It is said that writing about your experience is the best way to fully understand it. If you’ve also been burned out, come with me and follow my journey as I talk about how I descended into and eventually arose from the ashes of burnout. Perhaps I can give you some ideas so that you, too, can once again take control of your life.
Here’s to a GREAT new year!
Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout: Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources. An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI. To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com.