Burnout, when unresolved issues produce exhaustion, despondency, or cynicism, remains a constant issue across all professions.  The individual and organizational costs of this must be staggering.  US News found that some of the fields with the highest stress include medicine (from surgeons to paramedics), police officers, IT managers, financial analysts, psychologists and social workers, and construction managers – quite a wide array of specialties and working conditions.  In medicine, 42% of physicians report that they are burned out (Medscape).  That is astounding, that 4 in 10 doctors are emotionally fatigued, in a field that is dedicated to improving human health.  A study by Deloitte found that 3 in 4 percent of professionals say that they have experienced burnout.

Passion is not enough, as most professionals say that they have passion for their job, yet a majority also say they frequently are stressed.  American culture idolizes the can-do leader as a super-hero, and often people are reticent to discuss their burnout.  As a leader, here is what to do:

  • Listen to Others. Listen at rest to really understand. Do not initially listen to problem solve.  People crave to be fully heard.
  • Make people take time off. Do not just encourage it (you would be surprised how many people do not use all of their vacation, and I dare you to check).
  • Remove Barriers. People who are burning out often are dealing with the frustration of encountering a barrier to success or a barrier to increase their ease. This ranges from technology (ask any physician the impact of electronic medical records on their daily life) to policies and processes (while these can help govern an organization, they frequently increase frustrations for your most effective people) to lack of power to resolve issues.
  • Mental Health Days. Give everyone what I call a mental health day – a day where they do not have to show up for work and they do not have to explain why. For yourself, take one of these a year.
  • Give greater power in decisions.That likely includes you ceding some of your power.
  • Spend Time Outdoors: While this is a short-term solution, spending time outside on a daily basis – even a 10- to 20-minute walk – helps our entire bodily system manage frustration more effectively.
  • Ask for help. As a reminder, what people see you do often is what they believe they should do. Consider if your own perfection persona keeps you from modeling seeking help.
  • Work with a Coach: Profressionals have coaches, while amateurs do not. A leadership coach can help you build a more successful future.  Team leadership development can increase communication and emotional intelligence competencies, skills that head-off burnout.

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