We talk frequently about staff being worn out (and yes, totally agree) but what seems to be forgotten is that leaders are feeling weary too. They are responsible for their team, pressured to still meet deadlines, KPIs, budgets and milestones and all the while supporting everyone else. Too often, leaders are being pulled in multiple directions; supporting their team, keeping customers and clients happy, whilst maintaining expectations of stakeholders, owners and bosses. Who supports them? Leaders need re-energising too – as much (if not more) than the team.
Some signs (but not all) that a leader (or any employee) might be struggling:
- Cranky, cynical or snappish
- Teary, upset or withdrawn
- Increased absenteeism
- Becoming withdrawn
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling ‘stressed’ or a sense of hopelessness
- Increased drinking or substance abuse
- Even longer hours; frequently often working nights and weekends.
So if you have a leader under you who is exhibiting these traits, or who has just come right out and said it – “I’m over this!” then there are some things you can do.
Now the leader may not actually want to talk. They may fear that showing any weakness will be like blood in shark-infested waters. A good organisation should have an ethos which doesn’t have team feeling this way, and has a feedback culture, but reality is that is not always the case. If you don’t have people in the organization who are good at talking to the team (or team who are not comfortable talking to them) you may source an outside person. If it’s more leadership coaching, then someone like myself can be helpful. For many of my leadership coaching clients, it’s about having someone independent and confidential that they can download to, debrief with and get impartial but caring support from. If the matter is more serious, then you may need to contact a Counsellor or Psychologist.
Set Reasonable Expectations!
Many businesses have not amended budgets or expectations, despite all the challenges we are experiencing at present. The thought is, just work harder and we’ll reach our targets. If leaders are feeling weary, worn out, exhausted or burnout, then I’ll bet that the rest of the team is the same. Sooner or later, something will give, and it might be a swag of resignations. On average it costs 2.5 times a person’s salary to replace them, so if the bottom line is your focus and that’s what owners and stakeholders are most interested in, then be assured that if you are a human resource-based business, and you have a heap of team leaving, it will absolutely affect the bottom line in a negative way. Talking to your team about expectations and what is realistically achievable is one of the first steps. We are always wanting to push everyone just a little out of their comfort zone, but your team should not feel like they are drowning, with a weight around their neck and no paddle in sight.
Care for your Team
Team (from the bottom down) should be given (and encouraged) breaks during the day, discouraged from working during lunch, or staying late and never expected to work all weekend. Interestingly, I saw an online poll and respondents said that:
- 27% of them work a lot over the weekends regularly
- 45% work weekends ‘a bit’
- 28% don’t work weekends at all.
This means that 72% of people work on weekends! I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that poll, but I do know as an experienced business coach that a lot of people do work weekends, and especially leaders and business owners. The thing is that many companies expect (and demand) their leaders and managers to work nights and weekends. Worse, there is no care provided to the team. Gone (mostly) are the days of providing nutritious meals or weekly massages. Consider what your team need and the best way to do that is to talk to them, or better to confidentially survey them.
Support your Team
Part of caring for your team is providing them with support. That might be training where they are lacking skill, or providing them with more staff (to get the job done), or giving them software or equipment which will make their workday more effective. Again, it comes back to ascertaining what is needed and will represent best value for all involved.
That support may extend to ‘being in their court’. When something doesn’t go to plan, hearing their side of things before making any decisions plus being improvement-focused, rather than blame-focused. I know myself, if something doesn’t go to plan, I want to know why … not because I want to blame someone, but work out how it can be reduced from happening in the future. Finding improvement is productive, blaming is counter-productive for all involved.
Set the Right Culture
Some businesses are places that people want to work, and others are places that people ‘settle’ working for … until they can find and gain something better. The culture of an organisation starts at the top. Are you not only saying what the culture is, but are you leading by example? As a leader yourself, are you working ridiculously long hours? Do you take regular holidays? Do you take mini breaks in your day? Are you seen eating well, or throwing back 8 coffees a day, greasy food and then finishing off the day with several scotches?
Remember the value and importance of being optimistic and positive. When a workplace is fun (or at least not miserable) to work in, people want to be there. Even if you’re working hard, if the place is positive, then the team feels positive. Remember also the value of genuine appreciation. How hard is it to say “thanks so much for doing a great job”? Appreciation doesn’t just have to be a paycheck or bonus, it might be time off, a nice dinner, even just a simple (but heartfelt) thanks!
When you set the right culture, recruit the right team and then support and assist them, then this is where the gold is grown. People are far more productive because they want to be at their workplace, because they love what they do and they respect their bosses. People are so much more productive when they are happy, rather than barely meeting basic requirements, because they are fearful. Being honest and transparent will instill trust and confidence.
Know the Cycle
I remember this from a while ago. There is a cycle. If the business owner/s look after the team, the team then will look after the customers and then the customers will look after the profit of the business. The profits then look after the owner and the cycle perpetuates. I’m not saying forget about the bottom line, but get your perspective right.
- Have a great culture that creates a workplace that people want to be in
- Talk to and listen to your team – leaders and staff alike
- Support your team in any way you can
- Have reasonable expectations
- Lead by example.
If you would like assistance with team surveys, leadership coaching or assistance with being a better boss who attains productivity through positive means, then give me a call on 0411 622 666 – happy to chat. I frequently offer a 30-minute complimentary Zoom call as a sample coaching session.
My passion is your potential.