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Dan Barfoot of CMD Recruitment

What happens to company culture when your leadership team burnout?

When exhaustion, negativity, and ineffectiveness impacts your leaders, they give off the idea that any work you’re giving them just feels like an extra burden, says Dan Barfoot of CMD Recruitment

With the topic of employee burnout taking centre stage since the pandemic, leadership teams have had to ensure they adopt an always-on approach.

To be actively present for employee concerns; to ensure they are engagingly responsive and creating solutions to maintain positive employee wellbeing.

Of course, this is paramount to businesses success. We know businesses succeed when their team feel heard and listened too – where positive mental wellbeing is at the forefront of a company’s culture.

But one thing that is seemingly a bit more taboo is leadership burnout.

So, what happens to an organisation when their leadership team burnout?

The way leaders treat workplace communication often sets the tone for the rest of the organisation. As mentioned, they play a vital role in ensuring employees feel heard, appreciated, and listened too.

But what your leaders do, and your leaders’ wellbeing, also plays a vital role in your company’s culture, wellbeing and overall success.

While your leadership team and directors may be tempted to work long hours, send midnight emails, and skip vacations, what they do sets an example for the rest of the company?

Burnout is the combination of three emotions: exhaustion, negativity, and ineffectiveness.

When this impacts your leaders, they give off the idea that any work you’re giving them just feels like an extra burden.

  • Ideas tend to be shot down quicker.
  • Consistency and promises are lost.
  • They tend to point out the worst in everything that happens or is suggested.
  • Ultimately, employees feel unable to speak out and the culture of the company echoes the burnout felt by your leaders.

So, how do businesses combat this?

Training. With companies keen to retain staff given the labour shortage crisis, leadership burnout is beginning to be less of a taboo as companies are recognising the importance of employee wellbeing.

Companies such as Headspace Health are launching programs not only tailored to training management on identifying burnout within their staff but within themselves. The training program currently includes content on mindful leadership intended for leaders of any level and provides guidance for managers on self-compassion, compassion for others and managing teams—which is intended for people managers and includes topics such as burnout management, psychological safety and check-in techniques—as well as single workshop sessions on self-compassion, self-care and burnout management.

In training programs covering burnout, managers can learn how to recognize the lesser-known signs of burnout, how to make a plan to help their teams feel less stressed and more inspired, how they should adjust their check-in conversations to proactively track feelings of burnout and how to provide them with additional resources for support.

Provide Flexibility. A one size fits all approach doesn’t work when it comes to wellbeing strategy. A uniformed approach or policy on wellbeing will not work for everyone. People face challenges and take stress on differently. To be able to effectively combat any employee burnout from the top to entry level employees, you need to adopt a flexible approach. Let your employees choose what works best for them.

Delegate. As part of the leadership team, delegate. Lighten your workload. Of course, with the current labour shortage, employers are trying to do more with less, so people are feeling overworked. But your team are more likely to support you if they feel part of the process. Sharing the burden and delegating tasks fairly may free up some of your time and let your team feel trusted.

Dan Barfoot is operations manager at CMD Recruitment, which has offices in Devizes, Melksham, Calne, and Bath https://cmdrecruitment.com

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