October 20, 2015
DevRelCon founder and CEO of Hoopy, the content agency for the developer economy.
At DevRelCon London 2015, one of the best received talks was Brandon West’s “Understanding Burnout”.
In his talk, Brandon defined what burnout is and discussed a framework for talking about different kinds of burnout, with an emphasis on the types most common among evangelists. He described why it’s important to know about and talk about burnout for both employees and managers, and provided advice on how to spot burnout.
So, today I’m going to be talking about burnout. Who here thinks they have a pretty good idea of what burnout is? Raise your hands. Yeah? Okay. How many people that had your hands up think you could describe what burnout is to another person in this room? All right.
Okay. So that’s a lot of what I’m going to talk about. But, before I start I want to just give you a little bit of a background on myself. I was a software engineer for about 10 years. I’ve been working as an evangelist on the Community Development Team at SendGrid for the last four years. And I do want to start this with a disclaimer that obviously my background is, my experiences come from the United States and working with other teams, so that’s the perspective I’m bringing here.
I know there are some cultural differences. I was having breakfast yesterday, and there was someone from Linkedln sitting near me. I overheard him talking about this idea of American psychology as it applies to person work incentives and, you know, you get free lunch, but that means that you’re eating lunch at the office all the time and that sort of thing. So some of the studies I’m going to reference were based in Europe.
I’d also want to say that I understand that for underrepresented groups it’s probably different and also much harder to deal with burnout. So, I am speaking from an admittedly privileged perspective. So what is burnout? Burnout was a really awesome Xbox game, fast-paced racing.
I loved it. So, burnout was a term coined in 1974 by this guy Freudenberger who was observing mental health workers, people that were providing care to other people, specifically mental health care, and how doing that actually was breaking these people down. So it is a term he coined to sort of describe demoralization, disillusionment and exhaustion. It’s also been described by a few other very smart people with lots of letters after their name as a, not a scholarly construct but an evocative and imprecise metaphor or faddish psychobabble.
That being said, there’s, like, an actual diagnosis for this, so it’s this weird fuzzy thing that we sort of understand, we know that it exists. We don’t necessarily have a good way to talk about it as a community or as people working together. So, if you take away nothing else from this talk it’s that we need to establish a common model or at least within your organization you need to establish a model for what burnout is so that you can talk about it, and start to mitigate its effects to have more productive workers and to have a more productive organization overall.
So this is one of the great philosophers of our time, Jaden Smith. “If I had a nickel for every time I’ve cried in the back of an Uber, I would have another pair of Yeezys.” First off, let’s not exaggerate, man. That’s, like, a thousand times crying in Uber. But, you know, you read this and you’re kind of like, “Wow. That kid’s a wanker.”
Did I use that word right?
Brandon: Yes. I love these talks. Thank you. So this is definitely First World problems, right? But I feel this way when I describe when I’m burning out to people. And just to be perfectly honest, my boss is back in the room right there, I am about this close to being completely burnt out right now, and, but that’s okay because I’m aware of it, and I know what burnout means to me, and I know how to mitigate it.
So when I get home from this trip, it’s time to fix that problem. But just to give you an example of sort of how my last month has been. So it started with the end of the quarter which means you have to do all the reporting, all your objectives, you have to deliver everything to your boss so that he can deliver to his boss, so that you can get budget to keep doing the evangelism thing, right?
Well, also kind of very quickly decided that we were going to sell our house and move. And then very quickly later, about a week later we were under contract on a new house that was contingent on selling the first house. Then we had a vacation planned to Puerto Rico for eight days in the middle there. I know. Life is hard, right?
First World problems. Shortly before that trip, I dropped my phone, and I shattered the screen. I have a brand new one, one of these phones, it’s in my hotel room. I’ve had it for several weeks. I have not had time to transfer over to a new device. During my vacation, I get an email that one of the guys that manages one of our big partnerships is moving on to a different role.
That’s awesome, very excited for him. I love to see people on my team grow into new and exciting roles, but not the email that I wanted to get when I’m supposed to be disconnecting from work. So then I got back from vacation and we packed up the house and moved it, did all the closing and the paperwork. The next day I flew to Aspen for a software conference. I know. First World problems.
Then I flew back home, I unpacked, worked on this talk, worked on trying to replace the team everyone left, trying to cover the events that he was committed to. I packed all of my dirty laundry into a suitcase, I wore this shirt in Puerto Rico, I haven’t washed it since. I have not had time. My wonderful fiance has just taken my suitcase full of dirty laundry over to the cleaning service at the hotel to get that fixed.
So now here I am, finally feeling a slight sense of relief that I’m on stage giving the talk. But on Friday, I’m flying to Portugal for meetings with lots of startups and accelerators. It’s going to be fun. Then I fly to Madrid, and then I fly home. And then, also this morning, turns out I brought the wrong kind of plug adapter, and I still had some slides to finish for this talk.
So I’m awake at 6:30 trying to find a plug adapter and, you know, being an American I’m like, “That little outlet that says, “shavers only,” well, whatever, I’m just going to plug into that. Weird, it actually made my battery drain. So, yeah, don’t do that. Those signs are there for a reason. So anyway, another one of my takeaways. Burnout and depression are pathologically indistinguishable.
That means the symptoms are the same. If you go to a mental health professional and describe burnout and describe depression, they’ll probably tell you you’re depressed, but they’re literally the same thing. So, everyone in this room has probably had their life affected by depression or burnout in some way, directly or indirectly.
We see an increasing number of suicides for brilliant people that are under pressure, either startup founders or just trying to do a lot and trying to give from themselves but not remembering to take care of their own mental health. So I have a bunch of stuff from studies that prove that, you know, smart people say this is true. But the bad news about this, some of you are probably coming in here and go, “Awesome. He’s going to tell me what burnout is, he’s going to tell me how to look out for burnout, and then he’s going to tell me how to prevent burnout.”
Simple. Same way you treat depression. Right? It’s easy, just, I’m not sure what that one answer is, but I still feel like we can be better at talking about burnout by having a model, by discussing it, by putting the onus, some of the onus back on the organizations that we work for to start worrying about these things, to start investing in our mental health.
The good news, though, I think by doing that we can also help mitigate some of the depression that we see. If we can make people’s lives better at work, hopefully some of that will translate over to the other parts of their lives. Another key takeaway. Burnout and work engagement are not exclusive or correlated. Interesting thing.
I’m almost completely burnt out. I still love SendGrid. I’m still up on stage giving this talk right now. I am engaged in my work. Not correlated. You cannot use one to predict the other. Another interesting thing is that the positive effects of good work engagement actually can go beyond the negative effects of burnout.
You can start to get someone back on the track by keeping them engaged. Doesn’t necessarily always work that way. Let’s see. And this all comes from a study called, “Do Burnout and Work Engagement Predict Depressive Symptoms and Life Satisfaction?” Easy for me to say.
So this is also probably not surprising to anyone except for my boss in the early 2000s. Long working hours result in reduced cognitive function, and they found this by giving the vocabulary and basic reasoning test to a bunch of people that worked 40 hours a week increasing our workload to 55 hours a week.
Weirdly they were not as good at vocabulary. So another thing is that vacations do matter, holidays, sorry, they do matter, but there’s specific things about them that you need to control for to make them effective. I’ll get into that a little bit later.
Those most likely to burnout believe they are at least at risk, right? And that means evangelists. So there’s several models of burnout, right, because it’s this imprecise thing. I don’t think there’s any model that is better than the others, but I’m going to talk about a couple of them to give you a framework to take back and talk about. But one, in 1980, actually said the first stage of the burnout process is idealistic enthusiasm.
I don’t know about you, but I select for that when I’m claiming people to be evangelists on my team. We also have four core values at SendGrid, happy, humble, honest and hungry. And hungry is one of those things that is probably a precursor for burnout, so we’re also selecting for that.
Good news is that we have happy as a value which, I think, is trying to bring some balance back into that. But again, have to be aware that the people that are good at what we do, the people we want on our team are prime candidates to not only burnout but not to know or believe that they’re burning out and actually become more resistant to the idea that they’re burning out as the severity increases. I think there’s a few reasons that evangelists are particularly at risk for burnout.
It’s hard to self-regulate especially if you’re remote and isolated. And yeah, people that are startup founders are in charge of their own health and the health of the entire organization. They have double the stress.
Anyone know who this guy is? No? It’s an old photo. That’s Neil Young. So, you know, my my, hey, hey, “It’s better to burnout than to fade away.” I don’t think so. I mean, it was good for Kurt Cobain’s publicity, but…
Man 1: Oh my god.
Brandon: It’s not necessarily a good thing in general, right? So, anyway. By the way, Neil Young I believe is 71 years old now and he is still going. He’s probably fading in popularity if I have to guess. He might change his mind now. But, I know it’s a song, it’s not actually his thoughts. But, okay.
Let’s get into the models here. This is a framework that I came across during my research that I thought was very, very useful. One of the reasons I like this is because it views the sources of burnout as a relationship between the job and a person or the company and the person rather than just as an individual thing. So this kind of will give you six sort of mismatches that can be common causes of burnout, and hopefully based on those mismatches, you can take away some situational and personal changes that you can use to mitigate the causes of burnout.
And if you have one without the other, if you’re changing yourself personally or you’re changing the situation for an employee but they’re not changing personally or taking steps to change themselves, it’s probably not the right fit for you or for the employee at that point.
So it’s up to both sides of the equation to actually solve the problem. If you have one without the other, it’s not going to work. So these are the six mismatches. I tried to come up with a cool little acronym but nothing really worked. So, sorry. Overworked, I mean, this one is obvious. When you have this much work to do and this many resources to do it, and that’s chronic, right?
If it’s not chronic then, you know, everyone has crazy sprints here and there where you have to push extra hard. If that’s happening inconsistently, there’s a mismatch between your responsibilities and the resources provided. Lack of control. If you’ve have no autonomy, if you have overly burdensome constraints, I think this one particularly applies to evangelists, at least in my experience, because people that I tout as evangelists have self-motivation, they have initiative.
You don’t tell them how to execute something, you just sort of paint the target and let them figure out how to get to it. When you take that away, they get upset. Insufficient reward is another pretty clear one. That can be external reward, so promotions, salary, raises, getting a gold star on your homework, that kind of thing, or they can be internal.
If you don’t feel a sense of pride or accomplishments in the work you’re doing, that is also insufficient reward. You need to be fulfilled by the job you are doing. This one is interesting, breakdown of community. This one can happen because of isolation if you have a remote team, it can happen if there’s lack of camaraderie at work. If there’s no one at work that you would go have a beer with after work, or wine, or soft drink or choose your drink, that’s probably not a good thing.
You want to actually be friends with the people you work with. It fosters better environments for everyone. Sustained unresolved conflicts, right? You see this one. So hands up, if you’re evangelism program has ever had to defend itself internally. Oh, okay.
So that can be sustained, unresolved conflict between departments in an organization. That can, fosters often a lack of camaraderie and breakdown of community as an organization. I have a example, I’m not going to name names or anything, but there were a couple people on my team and they went off to do a fairly lengthy, very, very busy trip, and they got back from that trip, and one of the people immediately quit.
And that, I believe, was a breakdown of community or a mismatch of values or lack of camaraderie between the two people that were on that trip. This can have real effects, and they can sneak up on you. Absence of fairness, also pretty straightforward, right? If Person A is doing half the work and the boss thinks they’re great, and they get a promotion, everyone else is going to feel slighted.
Value conflicts. This one is a disconnect between the values that your organization has and your own personal values. If you’re asked to do something that you don’t feel ethically good about in order to achieve success, you’re probably not going to be good at your job. I was talking to an Uber driver last night who was saying he probably could make money as a cab driver, but he doesn’t do that because he would have to graft.
He would have to deny certain fares to certain people, refuse to go to certain parts of the town in order to maximize his hourly earning. That’s a disconnect in values. This one I think you will see most at inflection points in your company. If you’re going from early stage high growth, and then you take a Series C and you’re trying to turn things around and get profitable, turn things around, I mean, continue your success and become, change the definition of that success to how do we actually make money instead of burn VC money, you’ll find these sorts of problems because the values of your organization are shifting.
It’s no longer about growth. It’s about profitability. So just a recap, that’s, this is the OLIBAV framework. I don’t know. Like I said, I couldn’t come up with the acronym. Just real quick. Does anyone think any of these are probably more likely to affect people working in DevRel than any others?
How about overwork? Who thinks overwork is probably…? Yeah. Yeah. Lack of control. Hopefully you’re not experiencing that one. Insufficient reward.
Any…? Well, I personally think that breakdown of community, value conflict are probably the two that affect DevRel the most. So one of the key things that I learned from looking at this framework is that, you know, it’s job-person mismatch. People usually don’t focus enough on the job side of it.
The worksite has to work on figuring out how to prevent and locate these efforts just as much as it’s up to the individual to understand that they’re burning out and to take steps to mitigate that. So how do you recognize burnout? How do you know when you are burning out? How do you know when the people you manage are burning out, or people on other teams are burning out?
It’s tricky, right? Same way you know someone is depressed, sometimes it takes time. There’s no, like, loud bang, and they don’t suddenly just go, “Oh yeah, I’m burnt out now. That’s weird.” It’s slow, it progresses over time. If you’re not watching for the signs of it, you’ll miss it. You can’t really just ask someone, “Are you burnt out?” for a lot of reasons.
There’s politics, there’s cultural differences, there’s situational differences, there’s, “Oh my god. I really need this job, and if I say I’m burning out, they might not want me here anymore.” It’s not that simple. So, a few ways to recognize burnout. For me, when my friends and family start making comments about my workload or, “Hey, you seem stressed,” that’s usually something that I try and take to heart, you know, write it down in your feelings journal or something so you can track this.
I think that’s called Twitter. So this is a quote from one of the various studies. “Recognition is undoubtedly easier in an occupational setting that does not regard stress as a moral flaw and react pejoratively to those suffering from it.” Basically, your workplace needs to be able to communicate open and honestly about these things.
Hopefully you can take some of those six mismatches that I talked about back to your organization and use that to establish open and honest communication all around. These signs vary from person to person. For me, when I have insomnia, when I wake up every night at 2:00 a.m. for more than a week, I know that there is some big problem, even if I can’t pin it down immediately, I know there’s something out there, some conflict that’s not resolved that I need to figure out, get to the bottom of.
So three days, you know, that’s just insomnia. A week, okay, there’s a problem.” An inability to appreciate awesome places. I was in Aspen and it was amazing, and I was sitting in my hotel room writing emails, when I should have been out, I mean, it’s fall, autumn. It’s autumn and it’s beautiful there.
Saw the aspens change at the same time, and yeah, I was reading email. When you have no time for small joys or things that get you into the flow, like Shannon was speaking about, like playing guitar, going skiing, whatever it is that’s your mix of challenge and mastery, that lesson into that Zen state, when you stop being able to find that things are bad. When I start making simple or stupid mistakes.
I have a great example of this one. This is where I met Michael Vaga, actually in Tel Aviv. And the Israeli government that, shortly before I went there, had decided that they were going to move the date that they implemented daylight savings time. They did that too late in the year to actually let all the phone carriers know.
So, my phone auto updated when I got to Tel Aviv. I’m like, “Cool. That’s what time it is.” I was there for three days, off by an hour. You’d think maybe I would have glanced at a clock at some point. Then it was time for me to be at hackathon giving a demo, and I show up and all the demos are done.
And everyone’s looking at me funny, and I’m like, “Hey, you have the wrong venue on the map, you know. This was, like, I thought it was a five-minute walk, this was a 20-minute cab ride. Sorry I’m late.” Everyone’s still like, “That’s not really a good excuse.” So I’m sitting talking with Jeff Barr from Amazon at a table at this event, and he said something about the time.
Like wait, “What time is it right now?” Oops. So, yeah. So basically that was a really expensive trip, but we had some really good falafel. Yeah. Not so much, ROI for the company
pay for the business on that one. So, there are three types of burnout workers based on this one model that I found and kind of liked and decided to put in the slide deck. So these, this is similar to the job-person mismatches, but this would be more about people that are symptomatic, things that you can recognize in people and maybe put them into a category, although that’s always risky.
These things can maybe help you start the conversation with people you work with and say, “I’ve noticed this and this, and that might be indicative of these things or something else. Can we talk about it?” I want to make a very clear point here that because burnout and depression are pathologically indistinguishable that when you see these symptoms in people, do not assume that it’s them being burnt out.
It could be depression, it could be so many other things, could be other mental health issues like drug addiction or something along those lines. So, don’t assume it’s burnout. Still have the conversation, though. So the first type is the frenetic type people. People who, I don’t know if that translates to the projector slide.
Anyway. Hopefully you saw that and actually get it. People who when they are overly challenged, when the work situation becomes increasingly difficult, they start working harder. Right? These are the idealistically enthusiastic people who will say, “Well, that wall’s bigger. I just need to run through it harder now.”
They have typically an inability to acknowledge their own failure probably because they’re scared of failure. They tend to value the business over their own needs, and they can become anxious and irritable. So, these are the people like him, whoever that was, going for the, I don’t know, sprays his face with chrome, grabs the explosives and jumps off the truck thing.
That really looks awesome. So, yeah. Another type is the under challenged type. People who are indifferent about the task you’ve given them, particularly if it’s a tasks that they’ve been enthusiastic before, enthusiastic about, people who feel like there’s a lack of personal growth or lack of opportunities in front of them, people who are contemplating another job or are just simply bored are perhaps burnt out because they are under challenged.
People who are worn out, I think, that’s about where I am. People who start to neglect their responsibilities because they don’t have the energy to do them. People who have an absence of control over the results that they’re supposed to be driving will feel exhaustion because you’re running on a treadmill and trying to actually get down the street.
It doesn’t work that way. If there’s problems with your incentive structure, people can get worn out too, being underpaid for the amount of work I do, right? I’m not actually saying that at all. Difficulties performing tasks. If I’m trying to solve… I can remember when I was writing code, there was one night we were working all night, death march, that same boss I talked about that didn’t understand that you get less effective as time goes on and we keep working.
I remember writing a 40-line function at about 2:00 in the morning, and then realizing that all I needed was an if statement. And then I want to bed. Difficulties performing tasks that you’ve typically been good at are a sign of being worn out. So now that you’ve seen sort of a framework for identifying potential causes of burnout, you’ve seen some of the symptoms of people who are burnt out.
How do you prevent it? Well, I’m really glad you were talking about Maslow earlier, but I have an updated version of that. The Silicon Valley Hierarchy of Needs. By the way, SendGrid is based in Boulder, Colorado. Not everyone’s in the valley. Branded t-shirts to establish identity, free food at work plus your coffee is Philz or Blue Bottle.
You got to get the good stuff. Then you buy a Tesla, then you become an angel investor, then you start doing yoga or you go to Burning Man or both, then you start working on your meditation and mindfulness practice. Then you sell all of your stuff and take a sabbatical, you quit your job, you travel the world, and then you write a post on Medium telling everyone else that they should sell all their stuff, not recognize their own privilege, right?
That’s how it goes. Obviously that’s a joke. You don’t, I mean, yeah, if you can buy a Tesla, hell yeah, but, anyway. So how do you actually prevent burnout? Well, there’s no silver bullets, right? It’s like depression. There’s lots of lead bullets, so you just have to keep firing away until you hit something.
Hopefully, the best way to prevent burnout would be to take these models that we’ve talked about, bring them back to your organization and actually start these conversations. If you don’t start these conversations, nothing will change. So, I know that was, this was one of the things on that show, but seriously, meditation and mindfulness are good things.
If you don’t take time to reflect on your own mental state, try and analyze it, you’ll miss the warning signs. You won’t know that you’re burning yourself out, and that especially applies to you, person right now, who’s thinking, “Yeah, that’s bullshit and, sorry, that’s bollocks. I’m not actually going to start meditating. That’s not going to work for me.”
You’re probably the person who needs it the most. And there are apps for this now. There’s several apps on iOS, one called Sit that my friend Zack Shapiro wrote that has gotten excellent reviews. So if you’re looking for one, check that one out. So, step one is agree on a model, say, “Hey, here’s the framework that we’re going to use to talk about this sort of thing,” and actually talk about it. And then, when you’re talking about it, try and get some actionable themes out of that.
Say, “Hey, 10 people on the team said they feel this way. What can we do to incentivize fixing that problem either organizationally or personally?” If you are a manager, actually get to know the people you manage. Tell them your philosophy on management, hopefully you have one and actually know what it is.
Learn what the people you manage value, and learn what the people who manage you value and work to fill the gaps, right? Keep this in mind, again, sort of repeating myself but it’s important. It may be that the individual has done what he or she can do, and the power and responsibility for change resides elsewhere in the system.
If you manage people, that means the power and the responsibility for change is yours. Prevent long working hours when possible, right? Not only does it make your, the work that you get worse, but it makes people hate their life. Also, we are technology people.
So, like Cristiano was saying earlier, build the tools, build the systems that lets you automate away as much of the tedium as you can, so you’re not putting things into a spreadsheet, you know, a nice interface that takes care of the things that machines are good at doing. One thing I learned, I was speaking with a person, she’s a director of the site reliability engineering team at Google.
They have a lot of really, really cool ideas, and I’m going to steal a bunch of them and try and make them happen at SendGrid. But, one of the things that they do is they spend 50% of their time, the SREs, on what they call toil, and are things like I got to go and launch an nginx routes or something. Sorry.
Maybe I shouldn’t collect that toil. But, you know, it’s server upkeep that you have to do that, that you haven’t got around to automating yet, that takes manual cycles, right? They spend the other 50% of their time building automated systems so that the toil is not as bad. That also gives them some stretch in their schedule to fight fires when they come up because that still happens.
Let’s see. Also, as a community team, a DevRel team, an evangelist team, whatever you want to call yourselves, be mindful of the type of events that you sponsor and the human cost of those events. I love startup weekends, great, great organization, we work global sponsors startup weekends for a year.
And what we’ve learned is that those events are great, you make great relationships, but the human cost is very, very high. Having an evangelist who can be present enough to be engaged and actually establish meaningful relationships, that means they’re up working an entire weekend essentially. For us, it wasn’t worth burning out our people, so we stopped sponsoring startup weekends. Still love it, still support it.
Great events but… So, holidays. If you live in the UK, good job. You do this much, much better than we do. We’ve had some seriously broken time off and maternity and paternity leave stuff going on in the U.S. There’s some companies working to fix that, shout out to Netflix, but it’s not regulated. It’s kind of up to the goodness of, the CEOs heart is.
So taking holidays is vital to your productivity, but you have to take the right kind of vacation, you have to do things in a certain way to maximize the value that you’d get out of that vacation. One thing is you have to reduce the amount of resource consumption or stress that it actually takes to take the vacation.
If you’re taking a vacation that is going to make you max out your credit card, probably not going to be a great experience for you while you’re there stressing out about, “Oh, well, let’s maybe go to that other restaurant,” when you’re hey, you should be enjoying yourself and spend money on a good steak. There’s a company called FullContact, some of you might know them. They have a person and company data enrichment API which is pretty cool.
You can send them an HR request with a email, and they’ll say, “Here’s that person’s, where they work, link to their LinkedIn profile, Twitter, everything that’s on the internet, they basically will return that, which is pretty cool. I think it’d be pretty cool. They have a thing called paid, paid vacation. So you usually have paid time off, right, which is great.
FullContact actually will pay your time off, and then pay for your vacation up to $7,500. They have one requirement for that. If you answer a Slack message, if you respond to an email, if you send a text to your boss, you don’t get that $7,500. There’s also a good predictor of positive holiday/vacation outcome.
And that’s if you go on vacation, and I don’t know I’m not sure how crazy… If you have a mastery experience when you’re on vacation, where you learn a new skill or push yourself out of your comfort zone in some way that challenges you intellectually, those tend to predict better benefits of that holiday.
You’ll actually feel refreshed for a longer period of time. So, you know, if you’re going out to the countryside, maybe learn how to fly fish or, you know, ride a horse or something. I would also like to mention here that… Does anyone here, and if they have the unlimited paid time off thing? Okay.
Man 2: I do.
Brandon: I have fairly strong opinions on that. I believe that unlimited PO really means that our PTO system is based on shame and guilt, and how guilty do you want to feel when you leave, and how much shame do you want to get from your co-workers who never take vacations? Hopefully, that doesn’t actually happen in practice but… Yeah?
Man 3: Yeah. There’s another danger there when you leave an organization with that structure, you get no…
Brandon: You get nothing.
So I personally think unlimited PTO is a big ole scam, but if it’s working for your organization that’s great, and I’d love to hear how… Long-term scheduling is key and that means for both your holidays and for your work stuff. So one of the things that really screwed us up is we, I say we because my fiance’s back in the corner, and we just took this vacation over a week ago.
We booked it awhile, like six months ago or something, prepaid for some parts of it, then we decided to sell our house, right, and the timing was bad. Okay. We already prepaid for part of it, so we’re going, lined up, end of quarter and all those things.
So having, like, a schedule of key events in your organization quarter, and update, do these events, this team summit for this quarter and the next quarter was we’ll really help you plan vacations that let you maximize the value you’re going to get out of taking that holiday. Because when you take a holiday and you come back feeling like you are worse off, it’s terrible. It’s the worst feeling in the world.
Because then you’re more exhausted but now you have this many emails that you’ve have been waiting to respond to that you have to deal with. If people are burnt out, and demoralized and exhausted and you say, “Hey, go take a holiday.” That may not be enough because that holiday might just be enough for them to start to feel better, less exhausted, demoralized which is, then, the point where they can start to reflect on how they got to be burned out.
Right when they’re at that point where they can start to do the self-reflection and discovery, you put them back to work, they’re just going to burnout again immediately. So give people a little bit of a buffer from, after their vacation. Get their head and body in the right spot, and then give them a couple days to meditate on it, right. And makes me feel like I didn’t want to say that. But it’s true, and if you’re starting to feel burnt out, right, take a vacation before you need it, seek help sooner than you think you might need it.
So a list of some of the key things I hope you remember from this talk, burnout, depression, almost the same thing. Burnout and work engagement not correlated, not exclusive, not indicative of one or the other. Evangelists are probably at higher risk of burnout than a lot of people, and they probably will not tell you that.
You have to figure out some sort of a model, so you can actually communicate with other people, be on the same page rather than having this big abstract they call burnout that you’re trying to work through. Big one is communities actually benefit by creating structures to deal with burnout. If you can improve someone’s engagement and reduce their burnout, you can actually improve their life at home, you can make them a happier person in all aspects of their life.
That means they’re going to stay at your company longer. They’re probably going to work harder when you ask when, you know, the death march has to happen for some reason. They’re going to actually show up and be, all right where’s the shovel, let’s see this. And just like depression, there’s no silver bullets for prevention or for curing. So best thing you can do is establish open and honest communication, make sure you’re on the same page with the framework.
This is a list of all of the scholarly, peer-reviewed science eJournals that I read to make this happen. And I’d like to end with the tiny potato saying, “You can do the thing.” So if you’re feeling burnt out, please, try and talk about it with someone. You can come talk to me about it if you want to.
You can hit me up on Twitter, @bwest, and that is all I have.