Run, run, run. Do more with fewer and fewer resources. Deal with difficult people. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It’s another day in the life of a leader.
Depending on your position and personality, you might flourish working under the gun. If you’re like some, rushing around, rising to the occasion and problem solving brings out the best in you. There is no mountain you can’t climb. No obstacle you can’t overcome. Your biggest challenge might be turning off your brain long enough to get a good night’s rest before you dive in all over again.
Unfortunately, what you find stimulating, inspiring and exciting, can be overwhelming and stressful for others, especially those under your leadership. It’s one thing to create a vision and quite another to be tasked with bringing it to fruition. As a leader, it’s critical to look at stress and burnout and how you can create an environment that maximizes productivity and improves your bottom line.
Stress is generally caused by having too much to do, and the worry and anxiety that accompanies problems in and out of the workplace. Stressed individuals lose their tolerance for frustration, take things personally, and either become agitated or emotionally shut down. Not good for business, productivity or employee satisfaction.
Burnout, the collapse of physical or emotional strength or motivation resulting from extended periods of stress or frustration, also negatively impacts your bottom line as it leads to exhaustion, loss of motivation and ineffectiveness. Highly stressed or burned-out individuals are not good for employee morale or engagement, stellar customer service or the bottom line.
Here are quick tips you can immediately implement to minimize workplace stress and burnout:
1. Take care of yourself physically and encourage your employees to do the same. Get plenty of water, nutrient-rich food and a good night’s rest so that you aren’t burning the candle at both ends. Encourage your employees to do the same. Whether your people are engaging in outdoor labor or working in a temperature controlled environment, a hydrated worker is a more efficient worker. Think of your employees like athletes. Coolers full of Gatorade aren’t just for dousing the coach after a big win.
2. Express appreciation regularly. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are motivated to work harder and are far less likely to be stressed or burned out than those who are treated like expendable objects. Appreciation is a wonderful antidote to stress and burnout.
3. Make sure everyone carries their load. It’s tempting to not want to rock the boat with a temporary employee or someone who is slacking off. Unfortunately, overlooking the slackers puts a lot more pressure on your high performers. It also is incredibly frustrating and demotivating, and leads to stress and burnout. Why should your best people perform at their highest levels if others are allowed to lollygag?
4. Address problems as they arise. Problems are never pleasant and often ignored in hopes they will go away. Unfortunately, problems rarely disappear on their own. Taking care of problems is like weeding. Baby weeds are easy to pull, but once they take root, they can be a bear. If an employee is unhappy, have a conversation. Find out what’s wrong and if you can do anything to help. Unresolved and ongoing arguments drain energy and take a huge toll on productivity and work satisfaction.
Even during your busiest season, you have the power to minimize stress and in doing so significantly decrease the likelihood of burnout among your staff. Implementing even one of these tips will bring about good results.
Master all four and you’ll have the satisfaction of watching productivity, job satisfaction and profitability soar.
Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, April 2014, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0414-avoid-burnout/