When your team starts underperforming, seems disengaged, and quite cynical, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably the lack of discipline. If you notice these signs from a team or an employee who usually performs quite well, it can be a sign of burnout. If an employee is subjected to excess stress, is overworked, doesn’t get challenging assignments, or is tasked with routine work, it can reduce productivity. Regardless of the cause, productivity will decline if the employee is drained out. The most effective means to tackle burnout is by recognizing its signs. After all, prevention is better than cure. In this article, let’s look at the signs of burnout and disengagement at the workplace and tips to remedy them.
The most common sign of disengagement or burnout is reducing overall productivity and work quality. Whether an employee or a team, this is the first sign you need to pay attention to. If your group or employee starts missing deadlines, the quality of work has reduced, or is shying away from assuming responsibility; it is time to look at the situation. Don’t assume procrastination or laziness as the cause. The issue might be more profound than this at times. If you notice this irresponsible or lax behavior from a consistently dependable employee, it can be due to disengagement or burnout.
If a team is excited and happy, they are eager to make suggestions, offer feedback, and collaborate on different tasks and challenges. If the group suddenly starts to disconnect or an employee withdraws, it is a sign of burnout. If you notice any unusual disengagement within the team or in a specific employee, take corrective measures.
Another sign of burnout and disengagement you need to watch out for is the increase in complaining and cynicism. It is a red flag if a usually optimistic employee starts mumbling about all the things that can go wrong or seems frustrated for no apparent reason. Do not ignore it if an enthusiastic team becomes quite pessimistic and starts complaining about different activities or tasks. Occasional complaints and pessimism are common. However, if this becomes a commonplace occurrence, you need to pay attention to it.
Now that you are aware of different signs of burnout and disengagement, you need to take action. If left unchecked, they can fester into a significant problem. If you don’t take any corrective action to fix the situation, it can become challenging later. Here are some tips you can use to rectify employee disengagement and burnout.
Identify the Reason
Unless you identify the reason that caused the team or employee’s atypical behavior, it’s doubtful you can avoid this in the future. They can be different personal and professional factors that might have caused unfavorable employee performance or attitude changes. The simplest way to uncover the truth is by having an honest conversation. It can be a drastic or an unpleasant change in their personal life, such as an illness, death in the family, or anything else that troubles them. Professionally, the person might be dissatisfied with their team or organization role. When employees get stuck doing the same thing, it tires them and causes disinterest. Another common reason is stress. An honest conversation can help identify the reason and better insight into the problem. Once you have the required information, creating a plan to rectify the situation becomes more manageable.
The Need for Balance
Suppose one of your employees or team members has way too many responsibilities and is overworked. In that case, chances are they end up compromising their personal life to make time for their professional responsibilities. Working long hours isn’t necessarily a sign of progress or development. For instance, many people wrongly assume that working long hours conveys that they are hard workers. It might be true. However, it also results in exhaustion, unhappiness, and frustration. If you notice that one of your employees or team members is disengaged and seems burnt out, come up with a successful way to deal with this behavior. By talking about the need for balance between professional and personal life, you can reduce the chances of negative attitudes creeping in. Don’t forget to have a conversation with your employee about this. Instead, create a tactical plan of action to tackle the situation and reverse the disengagement. By acknowledging your expectations and conveying the same to the employee, you relieve a little of their stress. For instance, don’t encourage your team members to work long hours but instead establish daily deadlines and timelines. Ensure that they get sufficient breaks during a typical workday. All it takes is a little conscious effort to ensure your team members and employees strike the perfect balance between personal and professional life. Once this balance is present, the disengagement will reduce.
An effective means to reduce employee disengagement and prevent burnout is switching things around. Don’t make things too routine and change things up from time to time. For example, if one of your team members is permanently assigned the most demanding clients, change their responsibilities. Assign these clients to someone else. Even if the other person isn’t as experienced as the former, they are learning. Offer them different roles and responsibilities instead of the same ones. When you perform the same task over and over, it becomes mundane and boring.
By reducing the workload and equally distributing it between different team members, you give them a chance to breathe. Also, vary the types of projects assigned to your team members. For instance, if one of your team members is responsible for crunching numbers and performing financial analysis, give them a creative job or assignment for a while. This ensures they are continually learning new skills required to increase their professional efficiency while creating scope for personal development. By merely changing the day-to-day routine, the team member’s excitement and energy for the work will improve.
Apart from all this, all managers need to remember that employee burnout and disengagement will not fix themselves. Instead, as a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure you help your employees get back on the right track. Pay attention to the signs of disengagement and burnout. If you step in and offer the required assistance at the right time, it will create a positive change.
Authority doesn’t grant influence. An influential manager knows how to inspire and help others achieve their true potential, exudes confidence, and is trusted and respected. Do not mistake taking on an aggressive style of management to convey your assertiveness. You can also not be a good mentor or a coach if all you do is inspire fear. Being confident doesn’t mean you have to intimidate others. On the other hand, if you take on an aggressive approach, you don’t trust your employees to do well.
An essential aspect of a manager’s job is to influence others. Remember, there’s a difference between influence and manipulation. Manipulation is seldom desirable and is a negative tactic regardless of the intention with which it is used. On the other hand, influence essentially suggests the ability to affect someone else’s behavior through a thought process. By influencing your employees, you can motivate them to do better. It also gives you the power required to ensure your team is on board with all the changes that take place. Without some level of influence, you cannot get your team to do your bidding.
This section looks at some suggestions that new managers can use to influence the teams toward success.
Your Personality Matters
Do not become too eager to prove your mettle and make drastic changes without talking about it with your team. Consult the employees before making significant changes in the workplace. If you don’t include your employees in this process, it will quickly erode their trust in you and your leadership. It also conveys the wrong message or doesn’t value your team members’ feedback or opinions enough to consider them. Similarly, if you start isolating yourself from your team and other employees, it creates an unnecessary gap. Bridging the divide later will be difficult. A critical task on your list of priorities is establishing strong and healthy relationships with those you supervise as a new manager.
The simplest way to do this is by making yourself seem more relatable. Start sharing your experiences in personal and professional lives where you overcame obstacles, try to create a friendly and welcome atmosphere that puts others at ease, and efficiently communicate about your vision, goals, and how it correlates to their personal development. Apart from this, take some time and truly get to know your team by asking for feedback about what they like, the changes they want to see, and areas where there is scope for improvement. Instead of keeping your employees in the dark, include them in the decision-making process, especially on the decisions which directly affect their work.
Be a Good Role Model
Let go of the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. Whenever you are delegating any responsibilities, ensure that you show the team member how it needs to be executed. Doing this reduces the fear of failure on the employees and permits them to make certain mistakes. If you constantly reprimand or penalize employees for their errors, it probably means they were not offered the right tools or guidance at the right time, and it creates a hostile work culture. This can harm the team dynamic and reduce its overall efficiency.
If you want to influence your team members, you must model the behavior you expect from others. You need to lead by example. If you want your team to be collaborative and respectful, you need to display these traits. If you don’t, you set a poor standard. After all, what good reason do they have to follow you if you cannot track your advice?
Improve Your Communication Skills
Enhance your communication skills to become an effective and efficient communicator. Communication is a two-way street and learning to communicate your plans and expectations. Apart from this, you should also receive feedback from your employees about your goals and expectations. When your team members feel included and valued, they are naturally more inclined to listen to you. If you expect your team’s compliance, be willing to reciprocate. The simplest way to do this is by enhancing your communication skills. Effective and efficient communication ensures no ambiguity while everyone in the team or the organization knows their designated roles and responsibilities. Apart from that, they also understand their role in the organization while achieving different objectives.
By encouraging your team members to communicate openly and honestly, you create a positive environment. When your team members trust, respect, and are confident about each other and their capabilities, their willingness to collaborate increases. If your team members trust and respect you and are confident about your skills and abilities, they will be more inclined to listen to you. If you are not an effective communicator, you cannot achieve this goal.
Recognition and Growth Are Crucial
When the employees within a team know that the manager is always looking out for them and is concerned about their recognition and growth, it increases their trust in you. Creating a work culture that promotes collaboration and development increases your influence on your team. If the employees can see how much the manager is invested in their development, their motivation to do better and not disappoint them increases. You should concentrate on furthering yourself in the organization and focus on your employee’s growth. This connectedness culture increases employee motivation and gives you a better chance of influencing them in the right direction.