6 Causes of Burnout, and How to Avoid Them

A fog of burnout surrounds you: You’re perpetually exhausted, annoyed, and feeling unaccomplished and unappreciated. Everything in you wants to quit your job. But is that the best choice? Ultimately only you can know what is right in your situation. But there is research that can help you determine whether you can salvage your current job or whether the mismatch between you and your current position is so great that you need to look for a new one.

Various models help to explain and predict burnout, which is now an official medical diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization. One, called the Areas of Worklife model (drawn from research by Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter of the University of California at Berkeley and Acadia University, respectively) identifies six areas where you could experience imbalances that lead to burnout. As a time management coach, I’ve seen that some individuals can make positive shifts in one or more of these areas and then happily stay in their current position while others discover that the mismatch is still too great, and decide that it’s time to move on.

Here are the six areas that can lead to burnout and how you can attempt to remedy each one.

1. Workload. When you have a workload that matches your capacity, you can effectively get your work done, have opportunities for rest and recovery, and find time for professional growth and development. When you chronically feel overloaded, these opportunities to restore balance don’t exist.

To address the stress of your workload, assess how well you’re doing in these key areas: planning your workload, prioritizing your work, delegating tasks, saying no, and letting go of perfectionism. If you haven’t been doing one or more of these things, try to make progress in these time management skill areas and then see how you feel. For many individuals, especially those who have a bent toward people pleasing, some proactive effort on reducing their workload can significantly reduce feelings of burnout and provide space to rest.

2. Perceived lack of control. Feeling like you lack autonomy, access to resources, and a say in decisions that impact your professional life can take a toll on your well-being. If you find yourself feeling out of control, step back and ask yourself, “What exactly is causing me to feel this way?” For instance, does your boss contact you at all hours of the day and night, and make you feel like you need to always be on call? Are the priorities within your workplace constantly shifting so you can never get ahead? Or do you simply not have enough predictability in terms of your physical or people resources to effectively perform your job?

Then ask yourself what you can do to shift this situation. Is it possible to discuss the issue with your boss to establish better boundaries and not respond to messages 24/7? Could you come to an agreement that certain priorities will remain constant? Or could you have more resources if you communicated about what you needed? Once you’ve considered these areas, you can then see what you can do to influence your environment versus what won’t change no matter what you say or do.

3. Reward. If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount of effort and time you put in to them, then you’re likely to feel like the investment is not worth the payoff.

In these instances, you want to look within and determine exactly what you would need to feel properly appreciated. For example, perhaps you need to ask for a raise or promotion. Maybe you need more positive feedback and face time with your boss. Or perhaps you need to take advantage of the rewards you’ve already accrued, such as taking the comp time that you earned during a particularly busy time at the office. Experiment to see which rewards would make what you’re doing worth it to you and whether there is the opportunity to receive more of those rewards within your current work environment.

4. Community. Who do you work with or around? How supportive and trusting are those relationships? In many cases you can’t choose your colleagues and clients, but you can improve the dynamic. It could be as simple as taking the time to ask others how their day is going — and really listening. Or sending an email to someone to let them know you appreciated their presentation. Or choosing to communicate something difficult in a respectful, nonjudgmental way. Burnout can be contagious, so to elevate your individual engagement, you must shift the morale of the group. If you’ve found that once you’ve done all you can, others can’t improve or don’t want improved relationships, then you may want to consider a job change.

5. Fairness. Think about whether you believe that you receive fair and equitable treatment. For example, do you get acknowledged for your contributions or do other individuals get praised and your work goes unnoticed? Does someone else get regular deadline extensions or access to additional resources when you don’t?

If you feel that a lack of fairness exacerbates your burnout, start by speaking up. Sometimes individuals are unaware of their biases or won’t take action until you ask for what you want. You can request to be mentioned as a contributor, to give part of a presentation, or for additional time and resources. And if you still find that the response seems inequitable, you can consider bringing that up in a polite way: “I noticed that the Chicago team got an additional week to work on their project that was originally due on the same date as ours. Can you help me understand why that’s not possible for our team as well?”

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6. Values mismatch. If you highly value something that your company does not, your motivation to work hard and persevere can significantly drop. Ideals and motivations tend to be deeply ingrained in individuals and organizations. When you’re assessing this element of burnout, you need to think carefully about how important it is to you to match your values with those of the organization.

Also consider whether the leaders in your company have shifted their values. Look around you and ask yourself: How does my boss, my team, and my organization make decisions and invest resources? Do I feel good about those underlying motivations? Do they seem open to change? If you have strongly held values and those with influence in your organization differ from yours, you may need to look for a more congruent opportunity.

Burnout isn’t simply about being tired. It’s a multifaceted issue that requires a multifaceted solution. Before you quit, really think through what exactly is contributing to your burnout and attempt to make changes. If you find that despite your best efforts, little has changed, then see if it makes sense to stay or if it’s time to leave.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time management coach and the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Speaking. She is author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money and Divine Time Management. Find out more at www.ScheduleMakeover.com.


Briefings for the Boardroom: Diverse, Yes. Inclusive, No

This represents a significant opportunity for master level corporate executive coaches to coach in this much needed area.

As the first Latina ever appointed to this board, she decided to
discreetly ask another director for advice on how to handle herself and
get acclimatized within the group. He suggested she hang back; once she
understood the board’s dynamics after several meetings, she should then
gradually speak up.

All of which made sense, except that the pathbreaking director now
believes the earnestly given tip only made the awkwardness of being a
first on the board even worse. In her view, others quickly dismissed her
capabilities. “There is an expectation you will make an immediate
contribution, if you were selected to the board,” says Gloria Castillo,
who recounted the director’s tale and is the CEO of Chicago United, a
nonprofit that helps vet and develop corporate directors of color.

It’s no secret that the push to diversify boards is full-on these
days, driven by new laws, activist shareholders, and a general awakening
inside companies that they need a myriad of perspectives. But experts
worry that the challenge of turning a homogenous group into a
successfully diversified one gets far less attention—if any. Indeed,
most firms struggle to roll out the red carpet to new directors,
regardless of race. “It’s a difficult needle to thread,” warns Andrés
Tapia, a Korn Ferry senior client partner and a specialist in diversity
issues. “You don’t want the new director to feel like they are a token,
or then go in the other direction and be overly solicitous and
patronizing.”

To be sure, most companies continue to struggle to get more African
American, Latino, or Asian representatives on their boards in the first
place. According to most estimates, minorities make up less than 20% of
the boards of the companies in the S&P 500. With numbers like these,
many boards are still welcoming their first or second person of color,
which Castillo says puts special pressure on the groundbreaker: that
board member “has to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

To reduce that discomfort, experts say, more board chairs are
consciously designing a welcoming process that focuses on collegiality
with all new members, regardless of background, color, or gender.
According to Tapia, that sends a message to the new director: we want
you to feel comfortable, we value your input, and we will treat you the
same way we treat all our board members.


Minority Directors: Three Identities

Korn Ferry’s Andrés Tapia believes that African American,
Latino/Latina, or Asian directors sitting on boards often fall into
three archetypes:

  • Merit focused: This director insists they have been appointed solely
    on merit and doesn’t ever want to address or acknowledge racial issues.
  • Detached: This director is fully aware of racial issues, but wants
    to be known as a professional, not a minority spokesperson, and so often
    remains detached from the subject.
  • Spokesperson: This director embraces their ethnicity, recognizes
    that they have a responsibility to speak up for others who are still
    coming up, and has no problem taking full advantage of their board
    position to become the primary voice on diversity.

Still, many well-meaning board members from white, middle-class
backgrounds are often unaware of the obstacles the new director has
battled and overcome to earn a seat at the table. While the new director
might smile and say smart things, they might also be struggling
internally with negative voices or so-called imposter syndrome. Then
what? “Rise above it,” says Kym Hubbard, former chief investment officer
at Ernst & Young, who sits on two corporate boards, including PIMCO
Funds. “Do your job. Have confidence you are unique and that’s why you
were selected.”

Castillo suggests that a chair who wants to bypass the awkwardness that comes with appointing the first minority board member should appoint two diverse directors at the same time, or at least in rapid succession. That instantly demonstrates the firm’s commitment to diversity, it quickly changes the boardroom’s energy, and it eases the burden on the first appointee. “When you hit a critical mass of diversity on the board,” she says, “you get this increased energy and innovation, and really different questions being posed. Suddenly, all the benefits of diverse thinking display themselves.”

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https://www.kornferry.com/institute/diversity-yes-inclusion-no-boardroom?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTVdZNE5XWmpNemxoT0RrNCIsInQiOiJsR0JFU3lPQzRMazFSZzljY2pna0pqRWhUUFBiZEhQUG91WUVuMTN2OFJTWFFmMUJCZVpFUlwvUkdLTjlZTU5Ncm9PYjUxTkVjOVg4UTMwMVhYUjVvNjBVOU95YjN2ZEVwOG93QXdBU1pvQjhjZ3A1dFJUWjVHUUJUb1FNVGZmN0wifQ%3D%3D

The WSJ CEO Pay Ranking… An analysis of 2018 compensation for S&P 500 leaders

Published May 16, 2019 at 5:30 a.m. ET

Median pay reached $12.4 million for CEOs of the biggest U.S. companies in 2018, setting a fourth straight post-recession high even as stock-market returns tumbled at most of the companies. Most S&P 500 CEOs got raises of 5% or better during the year, while total shareholder return was -5.8%, according to a WSJ analysis of data from MyLogIQ. Scroll to explore the highest-paid CEOs, and the lowest, with comparisons of shareholder returns and other factors.

Augmented Humanity Will Disrupt Leadership. Are You Prepared?

Story Highlights

  • AH may help leaders use human traits more effectively for business outcomes
  • Leaders will need exceptional judgment to empathize and understand more
  • Leaders will need to master several new competencies

According to Gallup research, more than three in four Americans (76%) “agree” or “strongly agree” that artificial intelligence (AI) will fundamentally change the way people will work and live over the next decade.

No need to wait — augmented humanity (AH) is the next gen application of AI, and it’s already here. Consider the music service that monitors your heartrate via sensor and then selects the next track to soothe your mind or activity trackers that remind you when it’s time to head to bed. Soon, the market will see exoskeletons allowing those who have been paralyzed to walk and contact lenses that are able to detect blood glucose levels for diabetics.

These products all used to be the stuff of science fiction.

But as AH gets better, science fiction becomes less fictional — and the probability of an “augmented leader” is growing closer all the time.

AH will change leadership, but it will never replace leaders.

The augmented leader is not a human-robot hybrid. (Not yet, anyway.) Rather, leadership augmentation is technology that enables leaders to make fast, sophisticated, data-driven decisions that direct workers’ activities in partnership networks, not through chains of command.

Consider the universal language translator. Already on the market, this kind of augmentation helps managers communicate directly, make informed decisions and drive higher performance outcomes from increasingly diverse, widespread and complex teams.

But as AH gets better, science fiction becomes less fictional — and the probability of an “augmented leader” is growing closer all the time.

But it won’t necessarily make them better at understanding employee’s strengths, aspirations and values. And the ability to make good AI-enhanced decisions will depend on such leadership capacities.

Leadership competencies and workplace culture are critical in the augmented future of work.

As McKinsey put it in a recent report, “The hardest activities to automate with currently available technologies are those that involve managing and developing people (9% automation potential) or that apply expertise to decision-making, planning or creative work (18%).”

Gallup recently studied 550 roles and 360 unique competencies to identify the most essential organizational competencies required for achieving excellence in any role. Seven stood out — building relationships, developing people, leading change, inspiring others, thinking critically, communicating clearly and creating accountability.

These are human capabilities. AH will enhance them but will not replace them. Neither can AH replace a leader’s creativity, strengths, aspirations, values or ability to make sense of experience. But AI will augment those qualities and help leaders use them more effectively to achieve business outcomes.

Take, for instance, virtual meeting rooms (VRMs) and augmented reality (AR). This tech allows teams to interact, interface and co-create simultaneously, erasing geographical barriers. Many companies, Accenture among them, already use virtual reality (VR) tech for recruiting to eliminate logistical problems, reduce hiring bias, and accelerate the process. Microsoft’s HoloLens, a VR headset, allows users to instinctually manipulate, design and create while interacting with remote teams.

Using this kind of technology, leaders could work with their teams to test supply chain enhancements or find fail points on an AR-driven customer journey map, with AI producing the data they need in a flash.

But unifying people who never see each other on behalf of a hypothetical customer living in an imagined future — and doing it so well that workers can picture the vision clear as day — is a leadership quality. And soon it will be a leadership requirement.

Orchestrating the efforts of hybrid teams will place demands on leaders’ relationship building, communication, critical thinking, and visioning competencies the likes of which they have not yet experienced.

This future informed by AH will affect work teams, too. Teams will be comprised of employees, gig-workers and machines working side by side. And the workplace itself will be different. The way teams interact virtually will affect organizational culture, values and ways of working. Systems of accountability and development will have to reflect that new reality.

Leaders will have an important role to play in ensuring that augmentation and technology do not corrode culture. And that the physical distance between team members does not lead to separation. Orchestrating the efforts of hybrid teams will place demands on leaders’ relationship building, communication, critical thinking, and visioning competencies the likes of which they have not yet experienced.

Identify key leadership principles that will contribute to success in our augmented future.

AI and AH can help, but they can’t replace human cognitive functions or the emotional-social interaction. And as our ability to communicate improves, a single unifying purpose that guides the organization’s efforts will become ever more important.

Perhaps economist Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF), said it the best.

“We need leaders who are emotionally intelligent, and able to model and champion cooperative working. They’ll coach, rather than command; they’ll be driven by empathy, not ego. The digital revolution needs a different, more human kind of leadership.”

Companies need to identify the important competencies required of their leadership team. And then they need to intentionally guide leaders to help discover which of their strengths and talents will truly aid in efforts to increase performance and enhance business outcomes.

These human attributes are, indeed, the ones that will help leaders achieve success. They always have been. But as tech gets better, cheaper and more accessible, the things humans can do that machines can’t will only become more valuable.

Best to further develop those human qualities now, because the future is already here.

Learn more about leading with humanity in the era of AI:

Vibhas Ratanjee is Senior Practice Expert — Organizational and Leadership Development at Gallup.

Jennifer Robison contributed to this article.

The Art of Communication Effecting IPO’s

Let the road shows begin. In a key first step, the ride-sharing company Lyft recently filed paperwork seeking to raise $2 billion, setting up presentations with investors in advance of one of the hottest IPOs of the year.

That’s saying a lot. Experts say 2019 could easily be a record year for initial public offerings, with names like Uber, WeWork, and Slack among those that may line themselves up on Wall Street. Only, according to Richard Marshall, global managing director of the Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations practice with Korn Ferry, the communications end of this high-stakes fund-raising is shifting in a way that’s critical for nearly all these firms.

Only a few years ago, investors focused on one thing: the potential return on investment. Now, in the age of the purpose movement, gender diversity issues, and other factors, communication and investor relations experts are realizing their firms need to tell a much broader story. “Numbers are only part of the story now,” says Marshall. “In today’s market, investors scrutinize a wider range of things like culture, diversity and inclusion, and environmental and social sustainability.”

What’s more, experts say, market volatility has picked up again; witness what happened to the Dow Jones Industrial Average last December. Investor patience and sentiment, never very reliable, appears to be getting shorter in a way that may affect IPOs. That creates whiplash for firms going public, and requires more agility from their communications teams.

For its part, Lyft’s offering will mark the first major test of market conditions and investor appetite; the company has priced its shares between $62 and $68, giving it a valuation of around $23 billion. If the mood on Wall Street stays upbeat, more than 150 companies will launch IPOs this year, and by some estimates in all could raise the staggering sum of $100 billion—practically the gross national product of New Zealand.

All of which, Marshall says, raises the stakes and pressure for these firms’ communications and investor relations departments to get as much buy-in as possible from an investor community that has become more critical of deals. “You need to have a more thoughtful communications strategy,” says Marshall, noting that going public is only the first step in building an all-too-critical relationship with investors and analysts. One way to accomplish that is to break down the walls that have historically separated corporate communications and investor relations, and unite the two functions to help create a synchronized business and brand messaging strategy.

The story an organization tells analysts, consumers, employees, and investors can directly impact the success of its IPO and the future of the company, Marshall says. Organizations that can tell a story that combines strong financial insight with what’s unique about its culture, talent strategy, and purpose could have a competitive advantage in an IPO.

To be sure, Lyft believes that its culture is so integral to its success that, in the IPO filing, the company explicitly listed the potential of losing it as a risk factor in becoming a public company. More pointedly, it stated, “We believe that our company culture, which promotes authenticity, empathy, and support for others, has been critical to our success.… If we cannot maintain this culture as we grow, our business could be harmed.”