Last week I got the usual slew of “New Year, New Career!” calls. But this year there’s a common denominator:
Here’s what it sounds like:
“A lot of people have been really affected by Covid, but I’ve had it a lot easier than a lot of people. I just don’t understand why I feel ready to walk out of my job right now.”
“My job hasn’t really changed. I mean, I had to take on work after some people left (or fill in the blank), but the work’s been the same.”
What I’ve picked up on is peoples’ lack of awareness that burnout could be happening to them.
And that lack of awareness, or denial, is the voice of the saboteur – the one high performers get that tells them they should be able to handle anything.
When we allow our expectations to get too far out of sync with our reality, it creates a gap that hurts our confidence, our motivation and our joy.
What can you do?
If you’re feeling like you’re ready to quit without another job lined up:
- Slow down. Imagine hitting a golf ball into the fog. When you’re not thinking clearly and the environment is uncertain (which it is right now), it’s easy to make bad decisions.
- Change your mindset. There’s nothing wrong with being affected by what’s going on. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can work on it.
- Reclaim emotional nutrition. Social media, Word Cookies, droning all-day news shows are junk food. Connect with important people in your life. Do something creative, even if it’s Rice Krispie treats. Read a classic, even if it’s an audiobook. Plan something that will work even in Covid – anticipation is a big driver of joy. And slow down and savor what IS here.
- And then take some time to think about what you are wanting.
If you manage a team and feel like you might be sitting on a resignation powder keg:
- Change your mindset. Some (or a lot) of employee unhappiness is normal right now. Let go of toxic positivity or denial.
- Treat your team like human beings. My friend Lawrence just wrote a great summary of a McKinsey article on burnout. What struck me was where he says that giving someone a raise to keep them can come across as transactional. A raise may be in order, but throwing money at people when they’ve already given notice can backfire.
- Realize that many/most organizations shifted up to sprint pace in 2020 and stayed there. Spend time working on how to provide relief.
- Push people to take time off and create clear boundaries around work communication. Include yourself in this. Managers are exhausted too.
- And yes, the virtual happy hour still helps. Don’t let those fall away.
Net, net – there are things we can do to find motivation again. Take a long view, and be consistent. And be kind to yourself and others.
It’s not as hard as we think to make things better; we just have to pay attention.
If you’d like support in this work for yourself or your team, please reach out.