A New Way to Work

Success and change without burnout by Dr. Geri Puleo

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Paradigm Shifter #23: Seek proof before delegating

Paradigm Shift

People are generally very good about telling others about their KSA’s (knowledge, skills, and abilities).  Whether it’s strategic planning, employee motivation, balancing work and life, or even making the perfect spaghetti sauce, I’ve observed that people tend to profess to be quite good at a number of things.

As a result, we tend to take others at their word and accept their help in completing projects or tasks.

The problem occurs when the results don’t live up to their professed talents and KSA’s. Why?

Are people intentionally lying about their skills – or are they confusing talent or potential with mastery and results?  Are they exaggerating their scope of knowledge – or are they really talking about areas of interest rather than actual experience?

While the disconnect between professed competencies and corresponding outcomes can have a variety of causes, the real challenge is what to do when the person to whom you’ve delegated responsibility for a project or task is really not adequately prepared for it.

A second challenge is the frustration and anger that you often feel when others don’t do what they said that they could do.

How to Enhance the Probability for Success When Delegating:  In my own experience resulting from many episodes of colleagues not being able to do what they said that they could do, I’ve learned that proof is critical prior to delegating a task to someone.  The challenge, of course, is how do you obtain that proof prior to delegating responsibility?  Here are some tips to consider before delegating:

Proof #1:  Discover what the KSA means to them.  Don’t simply rely on the word that someone uses to describe his or her KSA.  In addition to the denotative (or “dictionary”) meaning of a word, all words have different connotative meanings that are unique to each person.  For example, “strategic planning” to a CEO or entrepreneur requires creative visioning, hard core business analysis, and internal negotiations with stakeholders; in contrast, “strategic planning” to a middle manager often focuses on operationalizing tasks to achieve a pre-assigned goal.  As a result, the competencies necessary to strategically plan are quite different.  By understanding the competencies associated with someone’s KSA’s, you can better determine if they are the same ones that are needed to successfully perform the task to be delegated.

Proof #2:  Ask for examples of their KSA in action.  Once you understand what they mean by the term used to describe their KSA, use behavioral-based questions to find out more about the context in which this KSA was used.  These questions do not focus on how they might manage the delegated responsibility in the future, but rather focus on how they previously managed a similar project in the past.  This is a critical step in determining whether or not someone actually has the necessary skills to complete the delegated responsibility.  For example, subject matter experts (SME’s) are often delegated with the task of training others on the SME’s area of expertise; however, subject matter expertise may or may not include the ability to effectively train others.  Training requires not only understanding the subject, but also being attentive to the needs and experiences of students, then creatively presenting the concepts in a way that resonates with those experiences.

Proof #3:  Investigate how they used their KSA.  This is an extension of Proof #2.  Probe for specific behaviors, attitudes, etc. used in implementing the KSA in the past.  For example, “leadership” comes in many forms.  Will the way in which this person previously led others be effective in leading others in this particular situation?  Also focus on the context or environment in which the KSA was used.  Is it aligned with the values and goals of the current culture?

Proof #4:  Seek specific results of their previous use of the KSA.  This is often overlooked prior to delegating.  Just because someone has done something in the past does not necessarily mean that they achieved the level of success that you need for a potential delegated task.  This is also when many people will offer too many rationalizations or excuses if the results did not meet certain standards.

Proof #5:  Don’t be afraid to pull someone from the task if he or she is not performing.  Although it’s important to give the individual some time to ramp up, it’s equally important to monitor how he or she is progressing on the delegated task.  Offer coaching and restate the desired outcomes, but also be courageous in assigning someone else if it isn’t working out.  While this may seem to be cruel, it is just as cruel to keep someone on a task if he or she is insufficiently prepared to take responsibility for it.

Proof #6:  Above all, never assume that someone possesses a KSA or competency based on his or her job title.  Job titles change at breakneck speeds and require different skills in different environments.  For example, the title of “Vice President” is quite different in a Fortune 100 company than it is in a 5-person start-up.  By seeking proof and conducting due diligence prior to delegating, you are much less likely to pay the consequences of inaccurate assumptions of others’ professed KSA’s.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Why People Leave Their Careers: The Connection Between Career Change, Organizational Change, and Burnout

Figure decidingHave you ever known anyone who “suddenly” quit their jobs and the careers that they spent years developing?  Did they leap into the unknown even though they didn’t really know what they wanted to do next?

Has this ever happened to you?

Many people change jobs due to downsizing, the completion of advanced degrees, or changes in one’s personal life.  It is a natural next step and is cause for celebration.  However, this does not address the millions of workers who “suddenly” quit even if they haven’t planned a logical next step.

Based on my career consulting practice as well as the experiences of my friends and peers, many workers are taking this dramatic step in their careers.  The question is “why?”

  • Are American workers expecting “too much” from their work experiences?
  • Are companies providing insufficient resources and recognition to help employees meet an ever-increasing list of job demands?
  • Is the stress of working in the modern workplace reaching such a critical level that workers must choose between a job’s financial security and their own emotional and physical health?

These “sudden” career changes are often met with shock, fear, and even anger – by both the individual as well as his or her colleagues, peers, family, and friends.  But the “suddenness” of the change is actually the result of a series of events that built up to the proverbial breaking point.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the average U.S. worker will have 7 careers in his or her lifetime.  Not jobs – but careers.  This means that most workers will only be with an employer for approximately 4 to 5 years.  Interestingly, Kotter & Schlessinger (1979) found that companies undergo change initiatives at the same rate.

Is there a connection?

In my research on burnout during organizational change, over 92% of my participants changed jobs as a result of the burnout that they experienced during their employer’s change initiative.  50% changed industries or careers in an attempt to avoid additional burnout.

Even as employers attempt to better “engage” their workers, they continue to downsize, rightsize, outsource, and offshore.  Considering that 70% of change initiatives fail, is it any wonder that employees choose to “jump ship” rather than continue to experience the emotional, psychological, and physical effects of stress and burnout?

Puleo’s Pointers:  Shifts to Help You Better Navigate Constant Change

The lack of corporate stability and employee loyalty is a critical component of the modern workplace – but this reality is often ignored by employers and their workers.  To better navigate this era of constant, unrelenting change requires a shift in our assumptions, perceptions, and expectations.  Here are 3 ideas to help get you started:

  1. Recognize that change is the new status quo.  Don’t expect that either your business or job will remain the same.  Rather than viewing change as something to avoid, re-frame change as something that is an invigorating opportunity to learn something new.  This simple shift will help increase your confidence and feelings of control in response to both small and large changes.
  2. Specifically identify your priorities in terms of work-life commitments.  If you are an individual, understand what you can comfortably give to a job so that you also have time and energy for a personal life.  If you are responsible for business strategy, recognize the effects on the bottom line that are the direct results of employee creativity, enthusiasm, and commitment – are your expectations and performance standards creating an environment that is “employee-friendly?”
  3. Plan for change.  One of the biggest challenges to burned out workers who desperately want to leave their jobs is that they simply don’t have time to launch a job search.  Try spending 10 minutes a day thinking about what you want in terms of job responsibilities and work environment.  Not only will you feel that you have greater control over your professional life, but your energy will increase as you make you a priority in your daily activities.  If you are planning an organizational change, don’t forget to include the “soft metrics” or the human side of your change initiative when calculating the costs, benefits, and probability of success.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Paradigm Shifter #4: Don’t let your fears control your actions

Paradigm Shift

What are we afraid of?  Although we live in a time where economic uncertainty and mindless violence threaten our security, the fear that I’ve observed (and even experienced) is something much more intangible – something that often arises from our internal (rather than external) environment.

While we live in times that are challenging, threatening, and often just plain scary, I’m sure that earlier generations felt the same way.  Nothing remains the same.  Everything is constantly changing.  Despite our best attempts, we can’t predict the future.  To sail forward, we must leave the shore.  But fear is an anchor that refuses to budge.

Sadly, many of our fears remain nameless, yet they influence not only what we will and will not do but also how we do or do not do it.  The sources of fear often exist on a subconscious level, but direct our conscious actions.

The good news is that because fears are thoughts, we can learn to control them.

How to Control Your Fears:  The key is to identify your root fear.  Surprisingly, many fears share some common sources:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of both failure and success

The fear of failure is often intuitively understood by most people.  Failure undermines our self-esteem, can lead to negative effects in our environment (e.g., job loss, financial insecurity, etc.), and degrades our image in the eyes of others.

Fear of success is just as pervasive.  Succeeding requires time and effort.  It requires us to lose sight of the shore and take advantage of opportunities whose outcomes might not be immediately evident.  Success requires changing that which we currently know into that which is currently unknown.

Finally, the double whammy of the fear of both failure and success is perhaps the most challenging.  Despite the strong desire to succeed, we’re too afraid of not only what will happen after we succeed, but also along the path to take as we move toward that success – so we sabotage, procrastinate, and “almost” succeed.

These are powerful fears – but they can be changed to support (rather than hinder) you.

Step #1:  Admit that you are afraid.  Recognizing your fears, understanding them, and consciously accepting that they are affecting your actions are extremely effective in getting to the root cause of your fears.

Step #2:  Define success on your terms.  Why do you want this particular type of success?  (See Paradigm Shifter #6:  Define what success means to you, not for somebody else.)

Step #3:  Be specific as to how your fears have undermined your success.  Think about the connections between your fearful thoughts, your actions, and the outcomes.

Step #4:  Change your self-talk and the associated images.  Addressing the emotions associated with your fears is just as important as intellectually understanding them.  Your self-talk is not only words, but also images that determine your behaviors.  So, rather than just focusing on the messages in the endless “self-talk” loop, also try focusing on the images associated with these messages.  Then change not only the message, but also the image for something that is desirable and speaks to your emotions and internal motivation.  Messages that are accompanied with positive, desirable images can be more powerful than simply reciting new, half-hearted messages.

Step #5:  Celebrate each time saying “no” to your fears leads to a positive outcome!  This not only feels good, but also reinforces that you are committed to no longer allowing your fears to control your destiny.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

New Year’s Resolutions: Why a Personal Mantra Might Be Better

January 1 on CalendarWhen January 1 rolls around, many people embark on achieving well intentioned resolutions.  As we near the end of the first month of 2015, how well are you doing in these worthwhile goals?

Or, based on past setbacks from prior resolutions, did you just scrap the whole idea of resolutions in the first place?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a resolution is “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.”  As a result, resolutions require three things:

  1. Identifying the underlying problem (rather than the symptoms of that problem)
  2. Determining what you want instead of that problem (your goal or ideal state)
  3. Setting up a doable plan so that you can achieve that goal

Personally, I have always set new year’s resolutions – some of which I’ve even achieved.  Unfortunately, others I’ve carried over into the next year with the infamous refrain, “This year I’m going to actually achieve this!”

In 2014, I watched an interview in which the guest talked about using a word or phrase to guide your actions through the new year.  Instead of setting up resolutions that can easily go off track, this word or phrase would keep you focused on the overall effect of the goals that you want to achieve.

So I tried it.  My word/mantra for 2014 was “Forward!”

Many things happened in 2014, including the terminal illness of my father and administration of his estate.  While I didn’t eschew goals in 2014, I kept focusing on the act of moving “forward.”  At the end of the year, I looked back on what could only be described as a very difficult 12 months – and, yes, I had moved forward in ways that I had not anticipated.

As a result, I felt energized that I had achieved my over-arching goal.  The subgoals that I had created (I don’t advocate giving up goals and projects totally) may not have been achieved, but I could see that in each category I had indeed moved forward.

Puleo’s Pointers:  Finding Your Personal Mantra (a Guiding Word or Phrase)

The act of creating a personal mantra is very similar to creating a compelling vision.  It must speak to your heart and not just your head.  It needs to be noble and worthwhile.

It also needs to have “wiggle room” – not so specific that there is a win/fail or zero/sum result, but directional so that you can adjust and adapt as you navigate toward it.

You can use an ideal, value, attitude, state of mind or body, or even an adverb that describes how you will act.  But whatever word or short phrase that you choose, it needs to indicate the need for motion or activity in order to attain it.

But, perhaps most importantly, it must speak to you.  Brainstorm whatever words come into your head; write them down and observe how you feel when you say them.  The right word or phrase will create a visceral reaction inside you.  You’ll know it when you say it – and it doesn’t matter if no one else “gets it.”  This mantra is uniquely yours and provides a direction (rather than a specific destination) to constantly reference as you move through each day.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Paradigm Shifter #11: Don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be

Paradigm ShiftWe Americans are driven by a Puritan work ethic – regardless of our personal culture, ethnicity, or religious beliefs (or nonbeliefs).  While we are encouraged to “work smart,” there remains some small voice saying, “If it’s too easy, then it must not be right.”

Each one of us has a unique range of talents and skills that makes certain tasks “easier” than others.  Instead of embracing this, we tend to downplay what comes naturally to us and focus on “improving” that which is hard for us.

If it’s too easy, then we aren’t working hard enough.

In my own life, I watched my mother – a working woman who was ahead of her time – clean things that didn’t need to be cleaned.  Every week, she wiped down all sides of every piece of furniture and even the spines of books with Lysol.  As a result, cleaning was a dawn to dusk affair that I could never understand because the house was neither dusty nor dirty.  FYI:  I never saw “dust” until I got my own apartment!  (But that’s another story.)

While my mother’s cleanliness was highly commendable, was it really necessary to engage in these unnecessary tasks each week?

How to Make Things Easier But More Effective:  In today’s hypercompetitive, time-starved work environment, it’s important to focus on what’s important and necessary for success.  Streamlining processes leads to not only greater efficiency, but greater effectiveness because employees’ energies are focused on those activities that will provide the greatest return to the company.  It also can help to avoid burnout.  Consider making these changes:

  • Determine key performance indicators (KPIs):  Change reports (or activities) that are no longer necessary, outdated, or focus on items that are only superficially related to key performance indicators
  • Plan for tasks and people:  Poor planning negates the inherent synergies between the different moving parts and people in the workflow
  • Focusing on “results achieved” rather than “time spent”
  • Watch out for “busy work:  Fear can lead to paralysis by analysis by focusing on irrelevant details or waiting until the time is “perfect”

Case Study:  When I started working during the early introduction of the PC to the workplace, Lotus 1-2-3 (remember this predecessor to Excel?!) assigned error messages if a calculation resulted in zero.  One President/CEO actually hired temporary workers to go in and manually change the “Err” to “0” in every cell on the spreadsheet.  Considering the payroll costs to make these cosmetic changes, wouldn’t it have been better to (1) reconsider what should be included in the report or (2) simply add a legend indicating that “Err” represented a zero?

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Are We Too Afraid to Think Outside the Box?

Think outside box tic-tac-toe

Are we destroying the environment that created visionaries like Steve Jobs?

In an era of constant and often unforeseeable change, why do businesses predominantly focus on linear, quantitatively-driven logic to solve problems – even if these old ideas are what contributed to the problems in the first place?

In this age of “big data,” have the numbers become the goal – the “box” in which creativity and innovation are rigidly confined?

Where is the creativity – that elusive, non-quantifiable, intangible quality – that catapulted the U.S. into the role of a world leader?

Why are we so afraid to think outside the box?

No one would argue that the world has become much more complicated as conflicting demands compete for our time.  Nothing is certain and the risk for “failure” is always looming.

Circumstances change in an instant, destroying well-crafted plans in their wake.  Publicly traded corporations live and die by their quarterly earnings statements.  Technology controls us with a 24/7 e-leash that confuses the tool with its master.

Creative thinkers may be threatened with job loss not only if their new idea fails, but often if they innocently question the prevailing corporate wisdom.

In this fear-ridden environment that is the 21st century workplace, pragmatism trumps creativity nearly every time.  Rather than developing something new, employees believe that it is safer to take baby steps rather than boldly lead others into an unknown future.

Yet creativity and innovation are the de facto precursors of success in today’s global economy.

Pragmatism v. Creativity:  You Decide  

Pragmatism might appear to be safe, but it neither inspires nor motivates.  Pragmatism creates the walls that confine us within the status quo.

In contrast, creativity requires letting go of past assumptions.  Creativity speaks directly to that undefinable spark that makes us human.  Creativity expands the self-imposed walls, allowing us to explore ideas from vastly different perspectives.

While prevailing wisdom says that it is “better to be safe than sorry,” the allure of creativity reminds us that “no guts, no glory.”

But it takes courage to be creative.  Creative innovators are often ridiculed by respected leaders in their fields.

It also takes a thick skin to be creative.  It is much easier to acquiesce to peer pressure than defend one’s ideas.

It takes confidence to be creative.  Negative labels of being “cocky” or “arrogant” teach us to either fly under the radar or flee to another more accepting environment.

Finally, it takes a human to be creative – but creativity can only exist when the humanity of the workforce is consistently nurtured and respected.

Puleo’s Pointers:  Creativity Is Innately Human

It is foolhardy and dangerous to focus primarily on “big data” as the source of creative problem-solving and decision-making.  While big data effectively shows what is happening, only humans are hardwired to creatively connect and make sense of the data points.  Unlike technology, humans can more easily make the leap of faith that leads to understanding not only why something is happening but also how to respond to it.

The level of creativity in the workplace is directly related to the level of humanism in its corporate culture.  When workers feel like drones, the probability of creative outcomes is negligible.

The 21st century business environment is fraught with dangers; only the courageously creative will survive.  Fear is the enemy of creativity.  When a company’s single-minded obsession is on “mitigating risk,” pragmatism reigns – but the human fire of creativity dies.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  

Paradigm Shifter #6: Define what “success” means to you (not for somebody else)

Paradigm Shift“Success” is subjective and only you can decide what your own success will look like.

On a personal level, we all know people who are very satisfied, happy, and successful in their careers – yet feel like failures during family holidays when they are interrogated as to aspects of their personal lives.

On a corporate level, one company’s vision of “success” might require global domination, while another company views “success” in terms of its reputation as a thought leader in its field.

Our frantic race to “have it all” (even if we don’t really want it all) is a recipe for disillusionment and burnout.

Abraham Maslow researched self-actualized individuals who happily committed enormous amounts of time and energy because the outcomes were closely aligned with what was personally important to them (not necessarily someone else).  These individuals chose not to “have it all,” but instead focused on what was important to them.  Although burnout had not yet been identified at the time of Maslow’s research, these self-actualized individuals did not display the 3 precursors to burnout (frustration, anger, and apathy).

It takes courage to make a definitive decision on what your personal success would look like – it takes even more courage to then act in ways that are aligned with that image of success.  Without this compelling vision to drive your activities, frustration and burnout can result from:

  • Chasing after goals that others want (even if you don’t)
  • Being reactive (rather than proactive) in the direction your life is taking
  • Taking actions that violate your personal values and ethics
  • Feeling frustrated and unfulfilled no matter regardless of others’ views of your “success”
  • Not enjoying what you’ve accomplished

How to Create Your Personal Definition of Success:  Decide not only what you want, but also why you want it.  Your personal definition of success should include tangible and intangible outcomes.  Tangible outcomes might be material items (e.g., car, home, etc.), while intangible outcomes represent the emotional and value-driven aspects relating to your success.  It may not be easy, but deciding will simplify your life by keeping things in perspective and better focusing your energies.

Case Study:  A small high tech firm made an intentional decision not to expand, but to keep the firm under 10 employees.  Sales revenue was not the driving force, but rather quality of work and quality of life.  As a result, they were selective as to the types of projects that they accepted and very satisfied to profitably occupy a small segment of a specialized niche within their industry.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  

The Paradigm Shifters for a New Way to Work in 2015

Paradigm NewI admit it:  I’m somewhat addicted to the TV show, NCIS.  In watching a multi-day marathon over New Year’s, I started thinking about Gibbs’ Rules:  basic paradigms on how to avoid the common pitfalls of being a special agent.

Since inspiration can come from unlikely and unanticipated sources, I reflected on my own hypotheses to create a new, more enjoyable way to work in this hyperactive, hypercompetitive 2015 work environment.

Beginning in 2015, I’ll be posting weekly Paradigm Shifters to help you to accomplish more and enjoy your work and create and enjoy your life outside of work.

(FYI:  Just like Gibbs, the Paradigm Shifters will be posted in a random order – so they don’t have to be “followed” in any particular sequence.)

Watch for my Paradigm Shifters at www.a-new-way-to-work.com every Friday in 2015.  Feel free to share, comment, or even add some of your own insights to enjoy your work and your life!

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  

Poor Leadership: 8 Ways Managers Burn Out Their Employees

Man dropping computer

In 10 Ways Organizations Create Burnout:  An Overview, I shared common mistakes that organizations make when trying to introduce change in the workplace.

Based on my original research on what causes and maintains burnout during organizational change, this Top 10 list came from the observations and perceptions of my burnout survivors.  So, there were no “clues” nor “hints” based on what I thought change managers were doing wrong

What was the #1 organizational factor that leads to employee burnout?

A whopping 92.9% of participants cited poor leadership

Are you surprised?  If you are like many people, you probably aren’t.

But just knowing the poor leadership can lead to burnout is not enough:  what specifically did these leaders do wrong?

Eight leadership mistakes were repeatedly mentioned as contributors to employee burnout:

  1. Refusing to provide the necessary support that I need to complete my projects
  2. Ignoring my emotions or fears relating to the changes
  3. Blaming me for problems that are outside of my control
  4. Threatening me with job loss if I refuse to take unethical (or even illegal) actions
  5. Overlooking or ridiculing my experience and KSA’s (knowledge, skills, abilities)
  6. Never recognizing or thanking me for a job well done
  7. Giving preferential treatment to the “in group” employees – even if their performance is substandard (particularly frustrating if my performance met or exceeded goals!)
  8. Micromanaging

Sound familiar?

A Case Study:  How poor leadership contributed to burnout.  In one real-life situation, there were many leadership problems that created high stress and burnout for this employee.  For example, her manager:

  • Did not include her on job-specific email distribution lists despite repeated requests for inclusion
  • Ignored requests for information and support
  • Continuously changed performance standards every quarter
  • Violated published organizational policies and Federal, state, and local employment laws
  • Created unrealistic workload demands that exceeded the scope of the job
  • Pressured her to violate personal ethics – even going so far as to recommend, “You better start thinking politically”

Eventually, the manager left the company and was replaced with a more experienced leader.

Nothing changed on an organizational level when the new manager took over.  However, the employee in this case study actually perceived that her stress levels decreased even though there was no respite from the enormous transformational changes that the company was attempting.

What caused these feelings of reduced stress?

Although the content of the changes had remained the same, the context had radically changed.  With the new manager, this employee not only knew what to do (because she was “in the loop” and received the necessary information in a timely manner), but also because the new manager generally cared and supported her in the execution of her duties.

In other words, a single person in the form of the new manager changed this employee’s entire work experience AND enabled her to begin her ascent out of burnout.

Puleo’s Pointers:  5 Ways Leaders Can Avoid Burning Out Their Employees

Mutual respect does wonders to avoid and overcome burnout in both yourself and others.  Here are 5 tips to help managers avoid contributing to a burned out workforce during organizational change:

  1. Standards. Set standards that are reasonable and internally consistent, explain their relevance to organizational goals, and encourage (rather than ignore) questions to promote greater understanding and buy-in.
  2. Resources. Provide the necessary resources (e.g., technology that works, tactical guidance, emotional support) that will enable an employee to perform at his/her highest level during the change initiative.
  3. Attitude. Support and develop (rather than punish and ostracize) workers who question the standards – particularly if the basis of their questions is to help them better plan for and meet the new standards.
  4. Equity and compliance. Comply with all corporate policies when dealing with all employees – playing favorites not only potentially violates employment laws, but it also leads to a demoralized workforce.
  5. Respect and appreciation. Re‑familiarize yourself with why you hired the employee in the first place – they proved that they had the skills to do the job, so guide them, support them, then step back so that they can do the jobs that they were hired to do!

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management and HR consultant.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: