Managing Employee (and Your Own) Burnout

We often hear about the exciting, invigorating and fun elements of owning a startup business. In reality, startup business can mean a great deal of stress, strain, fears, and a range of other challenges for entrepreneurs and executives. This only increases as companies attempt to reach critical outcomes, be it funding, scaling, IPO, acquisition or pivot. Burnout and other challenges are very real, and have the potential to hurt the company and staff if gone without notice or addressed. But as with any issues at a company, this can also be managed — even avoided — with a few specific steps.

First, understanding that both you and your staff can get run down or overwhelmed is an important part. That doesn’t mean you want to see personal days and time off escalate — but knowing it can happen can go a long way in successfully avoiding and managing it in your organization. Second, keeping in tune with yourself and your team is key. Have you been working 14 hour days for several days in a row? Is your staff regularly waking up early to tackle issues or problems, on top of the typical 8-10 hour day? While this can be common at a startup company, no one (not even you!) can sustain or endure it long-range, no matter how great the benefit might be once the work is done. By noticing fatigue and other issues at their onset, you can better assess and work around them.

Third, set the pace for yourself and all in the organization. You absolutely need to work hard, and get work done. But working hard and getting work done does not necessarily mean a frenetic, stressful pace is required. It can mean extra hours or time at work during crunch times or development pushes, but it can often mean a need for more streamlined or realistic expectations and processes. Keep an eye on how things are going, and what it might take to complete projects, at all times.

Last, you want to make the job easier where you can. That doesn’t mean installing a foosball table to give everyone a chance to have fun and improve morale. Rather, ask yourself and your staff what might help relieve stress, strain or prevent burnout — it might be as simple as shifting work hours to a different format than the traditional 9-5, hiring an assistant to handle personal tasks and errands, or other unexpected means to solve the problem.

 

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