As we continue to move through the year, and have entered into what seems like an eternity of working from home and working remotely (with the sad reality of eternity actually only being 7 months), we continue to see the people around us struggling with the new responsibilities of the world. In these times, it’s not enough to be supportive, you need to focus on being empathetic to your team.
I read an HBR (Harvard Business Review) article the other day, because yes, I’m learning like we talked about yesterday. The article was called Preventing Burnout Is About Empathetic Leadership by Jennifer Moss. It was a super good article.
Jennifer talked about the fact that we can’t simply assume that because we are ok with something, aren’t stressed out about something, or that a change in the business that doesn’t impact us won’t in fact affect or impact our teams. The reality is that none of us are dealing with the same issues, stressors, responsibilities, or mental fitness.
Moss challenged that instead of following the golden rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you, she said to take it a step further and: do unto others as they would do unto themselves. You see, we don’t know what people need unless we ask them. We don’t know what is stressing people out or overwhelming them unless we ask, connect, listen, feel their pain, empathize, and support accordingly.
She talks about burnout as well, as this was her primary focus. The interesting piece that stuck with me is that when people burn out, it’s not because a brand new project dropped into their lap, or a huge piece of the business failed. No, it wasn’t that complex. It was simply a daily task that simply tipped them over the scale and pushed them to the point of burn out and mental overload.
I envision one of those quarter type of gambling machines, where you drop the quarter in and if you put it just in the right place it will cause an avalanche of other quarters to fall into your change drawer. That’s what burnout is like, you dropped a quarter, the same as all of the other quarters, into this same environment. But this one quarter caused a chain reaction of events that resulted in everything falling down.
We have to be empathetic to our team. We have to care for them, support them in the ways they need us to support them, and understanding that if we don’t, the chances of burnout are higher.