By Richard Hua
While there are a number of qualities that make someone a leader, three stand out to me specifically: an understanding of the people they lead, the ability to problem solve, and flexibility. If an individual possesses these qualities, I feel that they have the foundation for leadership success.
These qualities can either clash or coalesce when a problem arises, depending on the leader of course. In a corporate setting, balancing these qualities and weighing the costs and benefits of those decisions is a troublesome process. Motivating employees who feel overwhelmed or burned out is one issue that has tested my ability to be a strong leader at my firm.
Causes and Consequences
Employee burnout can cause a number of other issues to arise, such as ineffective communication, poor execution, and possible employee dissatisfaction if disregarded for too long. I have learned a few methods to prevent employee burnout and solve it if it does become an issue.
One of the most effective preventative measures for burnout that I integrate on a daily basis is ensuring that each of my employees has a narrow, short list of projects to accomplish. A mix of long-term, short-term and everyday projects may sound like a recipe for creating burnout. However, it allows employees to pivot their focus as they see fit and keep objectives in mind. The goal is to keep clients and the company moving forward. At the same time, it is important that I keep their priority list short so that I don't overwhelm them. Having one specific type of project to work on at all times creates complacency and leaves employees more vulnerable to experiencing the effects of burnout.
I also allow my team to choose the hours that they want to commit to. I have my employees provide their availability and I create the schedule based on their needs. If they feel like staying longer or putting in extra hours, I give them the freedom to do so. Conversely, if there are days where they need to head out early or do not feel well, they have that flexibility. I don't believe in the idea of being bound to a 9-to-5 mentality five days a week. The mentality at our company is that we have is to get things done, not clock time.
I also feel that the culture that I have fostered in the office has aided in preventing burnout. I have tried to establish a culture where my employees push the envelope and are not be afraid to make mistakes. Each of us is interdependent, so it's important that we are on the same page. Along the way, we share victories (big and small) and, most importantly, ask for help if needed. Despite that, I still like to check in regularly with everyone in the office and see how they are doing and whether or not they have any concerns about what they are working on.
If burnout does find its way into the office, I like to hit the "restart" button and reset everyone’s focus in the office. I change the pace in the office by making sure that we celebrate special events like birthdays and holidays so we can bond as a team. Even without special events, as the company does well, everyone in the office deserves a reward from time to time. I was away from the office for almost two weeks recently and my staff stepped up. The day I came back, I bought everyone lunch and we celebrated a job well done. I feel that moments like these remind the team that we are there for each other, that we depend on each other to move forward and that I appreciate the hard work they put in while they are here.
Richard Hua is the founder & CEO of Roundleaf, enabling customers to reset, rebuild and refocus their wealth.