We all had it. No matter what role you have – whether you are an employee, a manager, a CEO, a member of a virtual team, or a business owner – we all had that one breaking point when we just can’t take it all in anymore. We all understand what it feels like to be totally burnt out; it’s like walking your way to the office with charcoals in reds and oranges on the flooring. Pretty deadly, isn’t it?
In any line of profession – may it be sales, marketing, accounting, or technical support – we all have the tendency to become completely exhausted of work. It is normal, of course, but that doesn’t mean we can just shake it off like Taylor Swift. Kidding aside, when left unnoticed, this highly contagious “motivational killer” can infect an entire workforce without warning. It could derail even the best virtual team and can wreak havoc on even the most enthusiastic, diligent, and intelligent members of your group. A demotivated staff can zap the life out of your troop, cause trouble in your work harmony, and decrease the overall productivity of your organization.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to prevent this breakdown from taking place. As the cliche goes, “prevention is better than cure.”
However, it is not always that we can stop things from happening, especially when we have too much on our plate to even notice. If the apocalypse has begun, first things first: spot the zombie. So what are the signs that tell you it’s time to grab your case of antidotes?
Have you ever observed a staff member losing focus and attention to things? You can tell the difference between a smart employee who suddenly can’t grasp a new concept you’re teaching from a so-so member who normally can’t flash his light bulb in a second. The latter might not be quick-witted but you sure can find his effort to understand; unlike the former, who either doesn’t understand or understands but doesn’t want to.
It is perfectly normal to entertain negativity once in a while but to feel utterly dreadful of almost everything at work is another story. The employee might feel underrated or unappreciated for his efforts, thereby causing him to always perceive the glass half-empty, to the point where he can no longer recognize his worth in your team.
Employee turning up late for his shift and leaving early after work? Frequent absences with lame excuses? Late submission of reports? Straight face when you announce something exciting? Communicating less? Producing less outputs? The formation of these bad habits doesn’t spring from nowhere. It has roots you need to investigate further.
Chronic stress not only affects a person’s emotional and mental well-being, but also stirs his physiological aspects. When one of your employees gets unusually sickly, even if it’s just a small series of fever and cough, consider it a sign.
In addition, your staff may choose to work in isolation when given the chance and will stop reacting to any changes in your team – good or bad. The “wow,” the “okay,” and the “too bad” will basically sound the same.
Considering that the above signs could potentially cause some lethal damage to your company or your team, it is time to kill them – the signs, yes, not the employees! Firing and hiring do not eradicate the issue for that matter, because the real problem lies on how you manage your workforce. Even giving your team a long holiday cannot make it any better. What’s the point when the first thing that meets them back in the office is the same tedious job?
So what are the steps to maintain your employees’ high morale?
1. Recognize the signs and identify the issue
How will you solve the problem when you don’t even know what the problem is? As soon as you see the signs of an employee becoming extremely burnt out, investigate the reasons why it has come to that point. That way, you can easily construct an effective methodology of initiating change and bringing back the energy he once had.
2. Communicate to your staff consistently
The best way to monitor your people is to talk to them. Make them feel that you truly care for their well-being. Perhaps you can implement motivational strategies that will make them feel better at work such as providing flexible schedule, shifting their responsibilities, or by simply allowing them to do self-motivating activities like listening to music, watching funny video clips, or chitchatting with their colleagues on a reasonable time frame.
3. Clarify the roles and expectations
Sometimes, exhaustion is caused by confusion. Your staff may feel like he has done one too many roles or has been assigned less work of what he is supposed to do. It is critical to make him understand how he is contributing to the welfare of your team. This will not only heighten his self-worth but will also allow him to see the bigger picture.
4. Emphasize the good versus the bad
When providing feedback and constructive criticism to your employees, always follow the KKK rule. KISS – KICK – KISS. Downplay the negatives and highlight the positive ones. What makes them relevant to your team? Constantly remind them why they matter and help them change their bad habits into productive ones.
Here you are, trying to make the moon and the stars collide, only to find out your boss doesn’t even care. It sucks big time. We all know how it feels to be unappreciated. Recognize the efforts of your team and give incentives when necessary.
6. Practice positive leadership
Bring out the best of your employees and unleash their potentials. If will not only make you a competent manager, but a great leader. A leader not only administers, but innovates and develops. Maximising your team’s potentials will grant bigger opportunities for your team.
Occupational burnout excuses no one. At some point, we will get there. An admirable leader does not fear for staff losing their morale, for he knows how to foster satisfaction within the workplace. An exceptional leader understands the concept of camaraderie and work-life-balance; and because he cares for his employees, he can stimulate growth and friendship while harboring top-notch productivity. Are you that type of leader?