How to Get More From Your Team Without Burning Them Out


You know what’s not fun?

Being handed a project with an unrealistic deadline.

You know what’s also not fun?

Having to tell your team that you know it’s unrealistic, but you really need it done anyway.

One of the biggest challenges you can face as a leader is figuring out how to motivate your team without burning them out. And if you’re feeling particularly burnt out yourself, it can be hard to even know where to start.

Why do people get burned out

“Burnout” refers to the symptoms and feelings one experiences after a long period of stress or being overworked. The causes can be pretty varied — some people are forced to work too much, others are just perfectionists — but the result is the same.

Burned-out employees feel tired, resentful, and detached from their work.

When employees become burned out, their productivity decreases and they become more likely to quit. That can be disastrous for a business, which depends on its team members to stay productive and happy.

Avoiding burnout should be a priority for any leader.

How to tell if you are pushing too hard

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Look for signs.

Be aware of what burnout looks like in your team.

Burnout in employees often presents itself as a change in behaviors or attitudes. People who seem exhausted, cynical, or under-confident are usually experiencing some level of burnout. Sometimes they might even become physically ill.

While a certain amount of stress at work is normal, burnout is a sign that stress has become chronic and unmanageable.

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight either. It’s a gradual process that slowly creeps up on you over time, so it’s critical to pay attention.

How to prevent burnout while getting more

Well-managed teams are productive because they’re engaged.

When employees are excited about their work, the result is a positive feedback loop where everyone is motivated to contribute more. That’s what we all strive for as leaders. Still, it’s easy to push engagement too far and cause burnout.

If you’re not careful, you can end up with a team that’s less productive than if they were working at slower but sustainable paces.

You can’t make all the stress go away. But there are many things you can do to help your team.

Here are some suggestions.

Give people a say in their work

Make sure people have a say in what they do and how they do it.

When team members feel like they have control over their work, they’re less likely to feel helpless about their workloads and deadlines.

Involve the team in the decision-making process

When you start a new project, include employees in decisions about workflow and scheduling.

Ask for their input and let them know you value what they have to say.

Apply rigor to your planning process

Encourage your team to break down large projects into smaller tasks and set deadlines for each step along the way so work doesn’t pile up or become overwhelming at any point.

Make yourself available

Be available when your team needs support, whether they just want someone to listen or need advice on how to solve a problem.

If your employees know you’re there for them when things get tough, they’ll be better able to manage

The more you give to your team as a leader, the more you will get in return.

In Summary

As a leader, your role is not just to manage the work and get results. It’s also to manage the energy of the team and create an environment where people can produce their best work.

When you’re in charge, it’s easy to focus exclusively on getting things done.

You might make sure that every project is moving forward and that there are no breakdowns or delays. But if your team’s energy level is low or people are unmotivated, you won’t see the results you want. And instead of taking on new challenges with enthusiasm, your employees will be dragging themselves through their days feeling exhausted and burned out.

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