A fog of burnout surrounds you: You’re perpetually exhausted,
annoyed, and feeling unsatisfied and unappreciated. Everything in you wants
to quit your business. But is that the best choice?
Various models help to explain and predict burnout, which is now
an official medical diagnosis, according to the World
Health Organization. One, called the Areas of Worklife model (drawn
from research by
Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter of the University of California at
Berkeley and Acadia University, respectively) identifies six areas where you
could experience imbalances that lead to burnout. As a business coach, I’ve
seen that some individuals can make positive shifts in one or more of these
areas and then happily stay in their current business.
Here are the six areas that can lead to burnout.
When you have a workload that matches your capacity, you can effectively get
your work done, and have opportunities for rest and recovery. When you chronically
feel overloaded, these opportunities to restore balance don’t exist.
To address the stress of your workload, assess how well you’re
doing in these key areas: planning your workload, prioritizing your work, delegating tasks, saying no,
and letting go of
perfectionism. If you haven’t been doing one or more of these
things, try to make progress in these time management skill areas and then see
how you feel. For many individuals, especially those who have a bent toward
people pleasing, some proactive effort on reducing their workload can
significantly reduce feelings of burnout and provide space to rest.
Perceived lack of control. Feeling like you lack autonomy, access to resources, and a say
in decisions that impact your business life can take a toll on your well-being.
If you find yourself feeling out of control, step back and ask yourself, “What
exactly is causing me to feel this way?”
Then ask yourself what you can do to shift this situation. Once
you’ve considered these areas, you can then see what you can do to influence
your environment versus what won’t change no matter what you say or do.
If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount of
effort and time you put in to them, then you’re likely to feel like the
investment is not worth the payoff.
In these instances, you want to look within and determine
exactly what you would need to feel properly rewarded. For example, perhaps you
need to increase your prices. Or perhaps you need to take advantage of the
rewards you’ve already accrued, such as taking the ability to work your own
hours or take leave when you choose. Experiment to see which rewards would make
what you’re doing worth it to you and whether there is the opportunity to
receive more of those rewards within your current building trades business.
do you work with or around? How supportive and trusting are those relationships?
In many cases you can’t change your colleagues and clients, but you can improve
the dynamic. It could be as simple as taking the time to ask others how their
day is going — and really listening. Or sending an email to someone to let them
know you appreciated their work. Or choosing to communicate something difficult
in a respectful, nonjudgmental way. Burnout can be contagious, so to elevate your
individual engagement, you must shift the morale of the group.
about whether you believe that you receive fair and equitable outcomes for your
efforts. For example, do you get acknowledged for your contributions or do
other individuals get praised and your work goes unnoticed?
6. Values mismatch. If you highly value
something that your business partner does not, your motivation to work hard and
persevere can significantly drop. Ideals and motivations tend to be deeply
ingrained in individuals and organizations. When you’re assessing this element
of burnout, you need to think carefully about how important it is to you to
match your values with those of your team.
Burnout isn’t simply about being tired. It’s a multifaceted
issue that requires a well thought through solution. Before you quit, really
think through what exactly is contributing
to your burnout and attempt to make changes.
Adapted HBR July 2019 Saunders