A fog of burnout surrounds you: You’re perpetually exhausted,annoyed, and feeling unsatisfied and unappreciated. Everything in you wantsto quit your business. But is that the best choice?
Various models help to explain and predict burnout, which is nowan official medical diagnosis, according to the WorldHealth Organization. One, called the Areas of Worklife model (drawnfrom research byChristina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter of the University of California atBerkeley and Acadia University, respectively) identifies six areas where youcould experience imbalances that lead to burnout. As a business coach, I’veseen that some individuals can make positive shifts in one or more of theseareas and then happily stay in their current business.
Here are the six areas that can lead to burnout.
1.Workload.When you have a workload that matches your capacity, you can effectively getyour work done, and have opportunities for rest and recovery. When you chronicallyfeel overloaded, these opportunities to restore balance don’t exist.
To address the stress of your workload, assess how well you’redoing in these key areas: planning your workload, prioritizing your work, delegating tasks, saying no,and letting go ofperfectionism. If you haven’t been doing one or more of thesethings, try to make progress in these time management skill areas and then seehow you feel. For many individuals, especially those who have a bent towardpeople pleasing, some proactive effort on reducing their workload cansignificantly reduce feelings of burnout and provide space to rest.
2.Perceived lack of control. Feeling like you lack autonomy, access to resources, and a sayin 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, “Whatexactly is causing me to feel this way?”
Then ask yourself what you can do to shift this situation. Onceyou’ve considered these areas, you can then see what you can do to influenceyour environment versus what won’t change no matter what you say or do.
3.Reward.If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount ofeffort and time you put in to them, then you’re likely to feel like theinvestment is not worth the payoff.
In these instances, you want to look within and determineexactly what you would need to feel properly rewarded. For example, perhaps youneed to increase your prices. Or perhaps you need to take advantage of therewards you’ve already accrued, such as taking the ability to work your ownhours or take leave when you choose. Experiment to see which rewards would makewhat you’re doing worth it to you and whether there is the opportunity toreceive more of those rewards within your current building trades business.
4.Community. Whodo 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 improvethe dynamic. It could be as simple as taking the time to ask others how theirday is going — and really listening. Or sending an email to someone to let themknow you appreciated their work. Or choosing to communicate something difficultin a respectful, nonjudgmental way. Burnout can be contagious, so to elevate yourindividual engagement, you must shift the morale of the group.
5.Fairness. Thinkabout whether you believe that you receive fair and equitable outcomes for yourefforts. For example, do you get acknowledged for your contributions or doother individuals get praised and your work goes unnoticed?
6. Values mismatch. If you highly valuesomething that your business partner does not, your motivation to work hard andpersevere can significantly drop. Ideals and motivations tend to be deeplyingrained in individuals and organizations. When you’re assessing this elementof burnout, you need to think carefully about how important it is to you tomatch your values with those of your team.
Burnout isn’t simply about being tired. It’s a multifacetedissue that requires a well thought through solution. Before you quit, reallythink through what exactly is contributingto your burnout and attempt to make changes.
Adapted HBR July 2019 Saunders