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5 Ways Relational Leaders Prevent Burnout


August 11, 2020

By Rowan Van Dyk

5 Ways Relational Leaders Prevent Burnout

5 Min

We have heard the saying so many times that “employees don’t quit their job, they quit their boss.” Have you noticed whether your team are constantly exhausted and annoyed; they appear to be overly lethargic and it appears as if they feel unappreciated. To make matters worse, the statistics show that over seventy percent (70%) of leaders do not like their jobs and feel they are not being successful as leaders. The situation is aggravated even further with the Millennials that want job satisfaction more than job security. Ultimately what is required is that we all co-exist harmoniously in the workplace but the mismatch between you and your team could be creating an unbearable situation.

Burnout, which is now an official medical diagnosis, according to the latest report by the World Health Organization could be the result of this situation you are experiencing with your team and the cause of their unhappiness and lethargy. Let us examine what is causing this burnout in your team and even yourself.

Here are five ways you as the Relational Leader can help to prevent burnout:

  1. Selective task allocation. When you ensure they are assigned tasks that match their capacity and level of skill, they will have sufficient balance between work and rest and have time and opportunities for personal growth and development. When you overload the team member with tasks that prevent them from having a balance between their workload and their down-time, you create the opportunity for burnout.

When you are busy with role assignments and allocation of workload, you should include the team as far as possible in the decision making process or they will feel left out and stressed. Other actions on your part that could lead to stress and burnout include: contacting them at all hours of the day and night making them feel they are constantly on call; priorities within your workplace constantly shifting which prevents them from knowing the end-goal;  or not having the predictability of availability of resources to perform their duties.

  1. Adequate recognition. If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for their jobs don’t match the amount of effort and time they put into it, then they’re likely to feel that the effort is not worth the reward. A feeling of a lack of fairness increases the chance for burnout if you do not mention them as a contributor to an idea or a project.

Different rewards apply to different team members and there is no “one size fits all.” Are you having enough face time with them? Are you providing regular constructive feedback? Do you acknowledge their contributions or does their work go unnoticed? Do regularly allow for deadline extensions or access to additional resources when they require it?

  1. Team Cooperation. Who are your team members? How supportive and trusting are those relationships and do you get along with one another? They say we can choose our friends but it is not always possible to choose our colleagues and family. What are you as the leader doing to restore or enhance the relationships in the team?

As the leader you need to ensure the dynamic of your team and you need to have your hand on the pulse of the team. This can be done through active listening.. listening to understand and not listening to formulate a response. If you show sincere interest the team morale will improve and the level of trust will also be elevated. Send them an email that tells them that you appreciate their contribution… give some praise at the next team gathering or meeting.

  1. Be fair. Are you providing fair and equitable treatment? Do your team members feel that you seem to be taking sides? Do you favour one team member over the other?

Being fair will ensure that you boost morale in our team and that the required trust relationships are cemented. Individuals are constantly looking at your actions as the leader to see whether you favour one member more than the other, or if someone else is receiving more attention than them. If you are completely fair and equitable in the way you deal with and treat your team, they will trust you as the leader and this will negate the feeling of unfairness. If they are feeling that you are taking sides, it could put added stress on the relationship and this tension could possible lead to burnout.

  1. Team fit. If there is a clash of values in the team, their motivation to work hard and endure will rapidly diminish. Ideals and values tend to be deeply ingrained in individuals and organizations and whenever these do not align, tensions exist which damages relationships and ultimately can lead to burnout of the team members. It is widely accepted that burnout is contagious, so the one team member could easily affect or influence the other team members.

When you’re assessing this element of burnout, you need to think carefully about how important it is to you to match your values with those of the team and organization.

Also consider whether you, your company or team has shifted their values. Ask yourself: How do I, my team, and my organization make decisions and invest available resources? Does my team feel good about those underlying values and beliefs? Am I open to change? How do my, or my team’s,  values differ from each other or those of the organization?

Burnout isn’t simply about being tired but rather it is a complex issue that requires multifaceted and dynamic solutions. Critically evaluate your team members and attempt to identify whether they show signs of burnout. If you are not applying the steps listed above, make changes where possible. If the problem is the organization, then you should communicate with the leadership and ensure changes are implemented before your team members quit or need serious medical attention.

Burnout is a result of emotional stress which is caused by tension in the team. The sure fire way to eliminate that emotional stress is to develop relationships in your team that leads to trust, not only in each other, but also in you as the leader.

If you are interested in learning the skills of being a Relational Leader contact us today and enrol on one of our courses or apply for a mentor.