Burnout is a symptom of stress and can be caused by a variety of issues. According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, 26 percent of workers surveyed stated that they often or very often feel burned out or stressed by their work.
Not making time for yourself is a common factor in burnout. Are you working long hours, sacrificing personal time to get work done, not getting enough good sleep, eating a poor diet, and not exercising? If so, burnout is practically guaranteed. The harder you work, the harder it is to work.
Sometimes, the feeling of burnout is temporary, for example, if you’re working hard to meet a deadline. In this case, burnout should end when the deadline is reached. However, if you find yourself working like this most of the time, you need to act–even if you love your job. Prolonged burnout can lead to fatigue, mistakes, negativity, irritability, and health issues. If burnout is taking a toll on your life and performance, you must take charge of the situation and put yourself first.
- Disconnect from everything work-related. This will likely feel uncomfortable, but unplug from all work for an evening, a day, a weekend, or even an entire week, depending on how stressed and burnt out you are. Don’t check e-mail, make or take phone calls, and lock work away in a drawer. Use this time to recharge and reconnect with what’s important.
- Define what success means to you. Your feelings of burnout may come from not honoring your values and priorities. Take time for analysis and realignment. Set goals and identify specific actions that support what is most important to you. Talk with the important people in your life, so they understand your priorities and needs. Being with people who care about you helps you gain perspective and focus on what’s important.
- Set boundaries for yourself and honor them.Do you always step in and help no matter what else is going on? If so, stop. Assess whether the request will require more than you want to give. If it places too much pressure on you, doesn’t support one of your values, or isn’t necessary for your major business goals, decline. It’s okay to say no if saying yes is not in your best interest. See my blog post Say No without Turning People Off for more information.
Prolonged feelings of burnout may need to be evaluated by a healthcare professional. If you have taken steps to mitigate what’s causing burnout, and you don’t experienced results, call your primary care physician for a checkup. See my blog post Take Action to Manage Stress for more information.
Referrals are the lifeblood of long-term business growth and success, but some people find it hard to ask for them. Here are some tips to make it easier.
- Ask for referrals from clients who know your value and are pleased with your products and services. While referrals from long-term clients who have a solid history with you have more credibility than those from more recent clients, don’t overlook anyone who has done business with you and is happy with the result.
- Face-to-face is best, but if this isn’t possible, I recommend a phone call over an e-mail. E-mail is a cold communication, and a request made by e-mail is more likely to be ignored.
- Keep your request brief. Thank the customer for their business and ask if they would be willing to give your name/card to others who might be interested. Say something like, “I want to thank you for your business and am pleased that you are happy with [fill in]. I’d appreciate it if you would refer me to others who might need [fill in].” Give them some business cards to pass along.
Asking for referrals is a numbers game. The more you ask, the more you will get. Make sure you ask new clients who referred them to you and personally call that person to thank them.
Need help with customer service? Check out my new program Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience.
Have you ever said something and instantly regretted it?
What happens if your verbal slip-up was in front of your manager, or worse, directed to your manager?
Negative comments, inappropriate suggestions, and blurting criticism can damage your relationship with your manager and may even harm your career. Here are some statements to avoid.
- “That’s not my job.” No manager wants to hear this statement—even if it’s true. Demonstrate your ability to be flexible and a team player doing what needs to be done for the good of your team and department. If the request affects deadlines, describe possible negative consequences and suggest an alternative.
- “I’ll try.” This statement shows a lack of confidence in your ability to accomplish something. It’s a “weasel” word used when someone thinks they might fail. It lets them say, “At least I tried” when they do. Ask questions about the scope of the request to reassure yourself that you can do it. As Master Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
- “I can’t work with [name].” This statement shows reluctance to be a team player. Your department’s success relies on your team’s ability to work together and get results. You won’t like everyone you work with, but you must find a way to get along with them by looking past any personal idiosyncrasies and dislike to forge a productive relationship with them.
Think before you speak. You’ve heard this before—usually after you’ve said something you shouldn’t have. The key is to take a breath before you open your mouth, especially when you want to jump in and comment. Just take a breath and consider the effect of what you are about to say. This pause can ensure that what you say won’t derail your career or damage your relationship with your manager.
Do you hate to network? If so, you’re not alone. Some people hate the thought of walking into a room where they don’t know anyone, but they do it because networking is an important part of professional success. Being connected to others is one of the most valuable tools you have for getting referrals and being top-of-mind. Here are some tips to make it easier.
- Be selective about where you network. Choose organizations that you like and want to support. Having a shared interest and commitment to an organization makes it easier to attend meetings and mingle with other likeminded people.
- Take it slow. Don’t set a goal to meet as many people as you can. Instead, decide that you will meet two or three new people and reconnect with someone you already know in the group.
- Focus on the other person, not your discomfort. Use a journalist’s who, what, where, when, why, and how form of questioning to get to know people, but don’t come across as if you are interviewing them! Ask questions and share your own answers to them, so they get to know you, too.
- Follow up. When you meet new people, make sure you take time to send an e-mail within a day or two to reinforce the connection. If you meet someone you want to get to know better, schedule a coffee meeting within a week or two.
- Connect on social media. Add social media to your networking activities. LinkedIn is a great venue to meet people both within and outside your industry. Join groups, check profiles of people you are interested in meeting, and reach out to them.
The generation gap in today’s workplace is the most challenging it has ever been since each generation has a different view of how work should be performed. You’ve probably discovered that older generations tend to view younger generations as “upstarts” who want the rewards without the hard work, and younger generations think their older coworkers are too rule-bound and process-focused. The key to success is helping your team value their differences and use those differences to make the team stronger.
- Start by focusing on each generation’s strengths. Take advantage of your Millennials and Generation X employees by tasking them to come up with technology solutions that streamline processes. Your Boomer employees are relationship builders, so partner them as mentors and coaches for younger employees.
- Hold workshops and live trainings to help your employees understand each generation’s background, preferences, and expectations. A little knowledge can bridge the generation gap and help your employees value and respect each other.
- Think outside the box and be willing to make changes. Encourage your employees to suggest improvements and be willing to consider them. Create an atmosphere that fosters creativity and problem-solving and bring your team together to tackle a common challenge.
Help your team understand and value their differences and use them to be more successful in 2017. Want to know more about multi-generations? Check out my e-book Leading 4 Generations.
You need a strong team of employees who work well together and support each other, but a strong team doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work on your part to build it, keep it going, and help it grow even stronger. Here are three pitfalls to avoid since they can sabotage all your hard work.
- Failing to recognize individual achievement. Most managers are good at praising the entire team and celebrating team successes, but individual employees also need recognition. Take time to single out team members who go above and beyond.
- Failing to provide opportunities for growth and advancement. You need to invest in the long-term growth and success of your team. Provide additional training that enhances their skills, offer cross-training options that expose them to different jobs, and have them assume leadership roles on special projects.
- Failing to communicate. When your team is working well and producing results, it can be easy to get complacent and stop communicating. Touch base with every team member at least weekly and with virtual employees at least monthly. People need to know you are interested in them as people and view them as more than cogs in a machine.
A happy team is a positively productive one. Make sure your employees feel valued, build bonds between them, and help your team be more successful in the coming year. See my blog post Strengthen Your Team with These Exercises for more information.
Getting things done while traveling may seem impossible, but with some planning, you can be positively productive. Here are five tips:
- Prioritize what you need to work on while you’re gone and gather all required documents and materials before you leave.
- Use a shared drive or cloud drive to stay connected to your team and what they are working on in your absence.
- Use pockets of time to get things done. I carry a To-Read folder of paper documents and similar folders for electronic documents and e-mail. When waiting for a meeting to begin, or if I’m stuck at the airport, I catch up on my reading.
- Write e-mails when you are off-line and cue them to go out when you again have Wi-Fi access.
- Take advantage of your road trip to handle activities you rarely have time for in the office. Focus on your career or professional development, put together a sales plan to increase revenue, or work on employee performance plans.
It’s easy to stay positively productive even when you are away from the office.
In my GO System workshop, most people raise their hands when I ask this question. Once upon a time, being a multitasker was considered something positive, but not now. Now we know that multitasking makes us less productive! That’s right. We lose productivity when multitasking.
Recent studies show that performance suffers when focusing on more than one activity at a time, but job performance isn’t the only thing that suffers. Multitasking can be dangerous! The National Safety Council estimates that 28-percent of highway deaths result from drivers who are distracted by their phones.
When you perform two or more tasks simultaneously, you are flipping the switch on your attention from one task to the other. The switch occurs so fast, you aren’t even aware it’s happening. While you think that you are performing multiple activities at the same time, you aren’t. You’re not multitasking; you’re serial tasking.
Think about a light switch. If you flip it on and off quickly, you have little light to see by. It’s only when you switch it on and leave it on that you get the illumination you need. It’s the same with focus. Switching back and forth when you are serial tasking makes you less productive!
Despite proof that multitasking just doesn’t work, we continue to do it because we believe that we can’t get everything done without it. However, it’s time to challenge that belief. Try this experiment. When you find yourself multitasking, stop and complete one task and then do the other. Time yourself. You’ll be surprised to discover that you are more productive doing things sequentially rather than simultaneously.
The holidays are almost over, and like many people, you may be thinking about resolutions for the New Year. We often start each year full of determination to achieve our resolutions this time, but we quickly find ourselves slipping back into old habits. Here are some tips to turn those resolutions into positively productive actions.
- Set a SMART goal instead of a resolution. SMART goals are more motivating and likely will deliver more results. SMART stands for:
- Specific. Clearly spell out steps that contribute most to the performance of that goal.
- Measurable. Establish criteria by which you can evaluate the goal and determine when you have achieved it.
- Attainable. Goals must be flexible and respond to personal, professional, business and environmental changes.
- Relevant. Blue sky, but keep both feet on the ground. Set goals to stretch and grow your abilities, but are not so difficult that you become discouraged.
- Timed. Put a deadline on each goal.
- Take small steps. Set yourself up for success by breaking down your SMART goals into small actions that are easy to take. Focus on the steps where you feel the least amount of resistance to make quick progress and fire up your motivation to stay the course.
- Tell a friend. A little peer pressure can be just what you need to stay on track. This works especially well if you mutually support each other. You don’t even need to have the same goal to make this work. The key is to hold each other accountable.
SMART goals are not easy to achieve, but you reap great rewards when you attain them. In addition to the pay-off the goal represents, you increase your self-esteem, and your self-confidence grows stronger. Start now to set your SMART goals for 2017.
Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to You, Your Staff, and Your Family!