Employee Burnout: What it Looks Like And What to Do About it

December 14th, 2012

The toxic combination of fatigue and boredom may not be deadly to your employees, but it’s certainly unhealthy for your bottom line and the future of your company. The math isn’t complicated: Happy employees are the ones who are motived, challenged and engaged, and happy employees stick around and thrive. Miserable employees are drained, exhausted, overworked, and angry, and they don’t stick around. They find other jobs, often after kicking down the props of workplace morale on their way out the door. Don’t let this happen.

Here’s what a burned out employee looks like:

1. He’s uncharacteristically tense, edgy, sensitive or hypercritical. If you notice an extended and unusual pattern of this behavior, intervene.

2. She’s taking an uncharacteristically high number of sick days and/or she’s showing up late for work, meetings, and events.

3. He’s missing deadlines or dropping responsibilities and he doesn’t seem to care that much about it.

4. She’s mentioned (directly or indirectly) that her efforts are going unnoticed or the demands placed upon her are becoming unreasonable.

If an employee starts showing these signs, how should managers react?

1. Try not to jump to conclusions, and ask questions before making statements. Tactfully raise the subject and ask the employee is everything is okay. Listen for an answer that might suggest family or medical difficulty.

2. Offer an opportunity to vent before offering a solution. If an employee is stressed, bored, or overworked, talking about it in atmosphere free of judgment can be very helpful. Sometimes just maintaining and open door and open mind can provide employees with all they need to release their frustrations and restore their energy.

3. Monotony can be a subtle but powerful enemy. Sometimes employees don’t even recognize that their feelings of frustration and stress are actually just the product of boredom. Reassign tasks when you need to and use teamwork to break up solitude and repetition. Sometimes it’s ironically more cost effective to assign two people to a job meant for one.

4. Avoid burnout in the first place by simply being a good manager. Keep directions and expectations clear and reasonable, stay open to employee suggestions and ideas, and distribute work fairly. Demonstrate respect and appreciation while doing all of these things. If managers beneath you have trouble following these simple steps, don’t just let the problem fester. Step in and actively provide the coaching and leadership training they may lack. 

Reach out to the NC staffing experts at PSU for more management tips that can help you banish burnout and protect your productivity.

 

Great Leaders Start Out as Great Followers

December 7th, 2012

Everywhere we look in our culture, we hear praise associated with the qualities of “leadership”. Great leaders are the ones who are bound for the highest destinations in this life, according to these messages. And they’re the ones who are most likely to attain their goals and leave an impact on the world. But a closer look reveals a few additional dimensions to these blanket statements about the glories of leadership.

First, every leader is also a follower. Everybody in this life has a boss. Even CEOs have to report to a board of directors, and the members of the board report to shareholders and customers. Second, every great leader starts out as a great follower. Before we lead anyone, we have to impress those who lead us with our ability and willingness to follow and do what we’re told.

To become a great follower, consider adopting some of the traits below. And recognize that these traits can speed our progress up the never-ending ladder of leadership. 

1. When bosses say jump, great followers ask how high…for a little while. But as they master their jobs and gain a more complete understanding of the big picture, they begin to take more initiative. When the time comes, and they’ve earned the knowledge and the right to do so, they start making suggestions about what the team should do and when.

2. Great followers add to their own list of responsibilities. They learn how to create their own jobs and expand their own sphere of influence, and they do so with minimal direction.

3. Following means listening carefully when we’re coached or corrected. In order to get where we need to be, it’s necessary to put our egos aside. This means letting go of shame, resentment, excuses and other defense mechanisms that rise to the surface when we’re criticized. The goal should always be performance improvement, not pride or self-protection.

4. Great followers think ahead, and they keep the big picture and company goals in mind. They don’t just struggle to keep up with an endless list of small orders and demands.

5. Finally, great followers are those who don’t just execute orders, they anticipate them. The best way we can help our bosses reach their goals is by keeping work off their desks and doing whatever it takes to make their lives easier.

Great followers don’t stay at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder forever. In fact, they tend to zip up that ladder as if they’re on an escalator. But ironically, the ladder never ends. We always have the opportunity to look to those above us and take steps that help us move in that direction. For more ways to get ahead and stay ahead, reach out to the NC staffing and career development experts at PSU

 

Take the Stress Out of Your Performance Review Process

November 30th, 2012

Performance review season is right around the corner, and in keeping with annual tradition in most offices, both managers and employees are gearing up for an awkward ordeal. Nobody looks forward to review time. Employees dread it, managers often resent it, and HR pros aren’t usually excited about the task of adjusting payment and compensation based on subjective employee contributions. But despite their lack of popularity, annual reviews provide a necessary method of keeping salaries fair and employees engaged and motivated to perform throughout the year. So what are some of the steps managers can take to keep this important task from becoming an annual headache? Keep these considerations in mind.

Choose Your Model Carefully

The science of performance evaluation grows more sophisticated every year, and with every new behavioral study, managers are presented with new algorithms and metrics for measuring employee success. Whether you choose a nine-box, 360 degree, weighted ranking method, or any of dozens of options, make sure your format matches your workplace culture and your business model. 

Begin With Self Evaluations

Launch the conversation between managers and employees by giving employees an opening opportunity to evaluate themselves. This gives employees a sense of control over the process and it helps managers and employees start on the same page by identifying a shared set of weak points and strengths.

Consistency is Key

Even though employees won’t participate in the evaluations of their peers, the process should be standardized and managers should make a strong effort to be objective as they compare the performance of one employee with another. Of course the bar will be higher for more experienced employees than it will be for new hires, but all standards of measurement should equitable, reasonable, and fair.

Focus on Performance, Not Attitude

Make sure all metrics used to judge employee success are based on output and performance, not attitude. If an employee produces quality work, her attitude should not be brought to the table during review time. Likewise, a struggling employee with a cheery, can-do spirit is still a struggling employee. During the review, stay focused on finding ways to improve her work and raise the value of her contributions.

Conduct Reviews in a Context

Keep the big picture in mind. If reviews aren’t followed by clear actions plans, clear rewards for excellence, or clear consequences for shortcomings, then why conduct them in the first place? The review offers a valuable way to track employee growth and progress throughout the year, and the final product should help create a road map to employee and company success.

For more tips and guidance on getting the most out of your annual employee review process, consult the NC staffing experts at PSU.

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