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Burnout in teams- How can you prevent it?

By Karen Gubb

Just as an individual can burnout, a team can burnout too. Symptoms of burnout may appear after periods of intense work and long hours, or after particularly stressful periods. If a team starts to burn out you might see a team which is usually directed, productive, and engaged become disengaged, disillusions, and dissatisfied. They may start to miss targets and deadlines and the mood of the team may become one of disinterest and despondence.

What usually causes team burnout?

  1. Unworkable deadlines and targets

  2. Unevenly distributed workload

  3. High demand

  4. Dissatisfied team members

  5. Meaningless activities

  6. Poor communication

  7. A loss of purpose and direction

What can you as a leader do to prevent or manage burnout?

  1. Manage your own wellness and energy so that you have something to give your team.

  2. Take time to understand the cause of the difficulties so that you can create targeted and appropriate solutions

  3. Advocate for your team if you think the organisation needs to make changes

  4. Understand what your team’s current demands are

  5. Validate the team’s experience and be empathic rather than defensive or dismissive about it

  6. Create time and space for the team to discuss the difficulties

  7. Involve the team in any solution

  8. Help the team rediscover their ‘why’ – or create a new one

  9. Create rest and renewal opportunities for the team.

  10. Identify appropriate points for work to be handed off. This can either be when someone needs to take a break or when they have completed their part of a task and someone else can take it forward.

  11. Following from the point above: Identify the strengths of the team and its members. Then help the team to configure themselves in a way so that they are playing to their strengths. This reduces the feeling of overwhelm and increases collaboration.

  12. Get help for yourself and the team when needed.

When you see signs of burnout in the team, it is important to protect the team from the team. Remember that emotions can be contagious and unaddressed dissatisfaction spreads quickly. Engaging in the ways listed above can reset and refocus the team so that they can feel better, work better and return to functioning from a place of wellness.

At Teamery we understand the importance of rest and recovery to team performance. We would love to help you team work out how to manage their energies so that they can be their best. You can contact us here.

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