Yes, You Can Prevent Burnout!
Besides watching over the individual members of your project team, you can also protect the entire project. When weariness over a long-term or difficult project begins to spread from one individual to the next, it may not be genuine burnout, but it’s still important to avoid it for the sake of your project. Try these techniques to keep individuals as well as your whole team operating on a full tank of enthusiasm and creativity:
Recreational Exercise. If there’s a company exercise room, make your team members spend at least fifteen minutes per day there,at least three days a week, even if they just cycle on a bike while they read a book. Exercise produces those feel-good endorphins that defeat stress.
Wellness Sessions. Tell your people you want them to practice breathing exercises to help them unwind when they feel stressed. In fact, schedule a team meeting or a wellness session for the purpose of teaching them how to do this; you can even throw in some guided imagery. Pick other topics, like self-defense or cooking for two, that will interest them and schedule them regularly.
Relaxation. No matter how much work has to be done, you need to ensure that your team members are taking their breaks. Of course you’ve got to monitor what’s going on so that people aren’t goofing off when they should be working, but everybody needs time to vent and decompress. Let silliness reign every once in a while.
Discuss Burnout. Do the unthinkable and address the topic of burnout with them. When you schedule one of these teaching sessions, you gain the opportunity to confront burned-out team members without singling them out. Ask each person to consider what he likes best about his job and what he likes least. Don’t criticize if someone complains about an aspect that’s near and dear to your heart. Find ways to reward individual achievements.
Collaborate and Communicate. Midway through the project, arrange for people to experience each other’s jobs. Set a day when everybody rotates through various pairings, or you can simply assign two people to work on something together. The team member who understands what the other person does develops an appreciation of that person’s skills. This promotes loyalty, patience and confidence in one another.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If your company offers an EAP and you have someone who’s suffering from burnout, make him see the EAP counselor. The trend in today’s therapy is to go short and sweet; sessions focus on ways to make the person understand his power to change things. Even if he only gets two or three sessions according to the EAP plan, his participation will help him to refocus on where he’s going, in life and at work.