Sometimes I feel as if I were a match that has been lit a long time ago, and the harder I try to keep the light shining the more I get the sensation that I am invisible. 2020 was a year of change and everybody talks about it. The year of resilience, that is the way that we like to call it, maybe because it is true. But it is also accurate to say that it was the year of the fatigue. Entrepreneurs, executives, workers, teachers, healthcare givers, students, parents, sons had to realize that change is factual, and the learning process has been tough, hard, quick and exhausting.
In a world that was supposed to speed down, the reality that we see everywhere is that more than slowing it is accelerating even more, but for the wrong reasons. No wonder, in January 2019, most executives were working in nice corporative facilities and super nice venues and now they are working from the kitchen counter while their husbands or wives are connected in the living room and their kids are studying in the dining room. The consequences had been terrible: everything is crumbled and mixed, so burnout has become a rampant symptom of an awful disease. Let me tell you something, Covid-19 is not the only plague that happened and is happening. Exhaustion, tiredness, enervation are the signals of several managing mistakes.
Yes, I know that burnout has long been a threat. Yet, I can tell you that the match has been lit before. But in the recent months and weeks, many events have taken place, and for most families, they have happened at the same time. Millions of people lost their jobs and faced financial and food insecurity. People working on the front lines worried for their physical safety, and those in health care put their lives at risk every day. A third of the world´s employees started “living at work” — with the night table as their new pseudo-office. Over the year severe stress would develop into chronic stress. And it shows few signs of abating.
Our level of burnout is the result of a real hitch made exponentially worse. Combating burnout may feel like an overwhelming and superhuman task. After months of emotional fatigue, it is urgent to solve the problem. The first step is to acknowledge it. If we have the right tools, it can be easier than we might think. And ready or not, we cannot disregard the urgency: we are in the midst of a burnout epidemic, even if we want to recognize it or not.
But how did we get to such a crisis? The concepts are not nice to read: bad management, abusive behavior, unemphatic conducts, bad delegation habits, labor intrusiveness, insane workloads, inflexibility, unhealthful screen hours. That is the way we got to such a critical point. And yet, the solution is not as far as we may think nor it is as difficult as it may seem. If we understand that the problem starts with us, then we can conclude that the solution can begin in oneself. Great, so how do we do it?
It begins with respect: respect for our own person and to the people that are part of our teamwork. That is the sponsor's word of this matter. And there are urgent steps that we must take:
- we have to rearrange our workloads;
- it is imperative to delegate, meaning that we have to give people control and flexibility;
- we have to stop promoting useless meetings;
- we have to reward peoples efforts;
- we have to be empathic with people's problems.
If we ask ourselves how many meetings, we attended that could be solved with an email we would be surprised by the answer and would understand the immense problem that we have and the easiness to solve the issue. It is not only that we have been mistreated by our bosses or companies, but we have also been doing the same thing with our team workers.
How do we go back:
- Organize a manageable workload. Ask yourself if you need to solve the problem with a meeting or if it could be changed by a telephone call, an email, or if the issue has to take more than 30 minutes of your working time.
- Understand that there are some concerns of sadness, loss, anxiety that can be in your team´s mind —or in yours. Do not dismiss them. Take care of them. Grief is not transparent. In other words, be empathic.
- Manage your time, be respectful with theirs. That means simple conducts: be punctual, refrain from sending emails or messages during sleeping hours, do not call at mealtime. Stop nosing on your people, do not call for urgent matters when you know that is not the case, or prevent urgencies by planning and anticipating.
Yes, we have been so proud of the resilience that we have been showing as Humankind, but we have not been so generous as to understand the costs of it. People around the world are tired, sad, grieving and we most appreciate every action that has been done. Doctors, teachers, mothers, fathers, students, caregivers have professional and personal lives that have been fused and that is sea sickening. Beyond burnout, it is the empathic look that we must start having. The world is tired, we have to give ourselves help, do we not?