Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Losing Your Motivation: Burnout Series

I've decided to do a little series on job burnout. I have it- big time- and I think it would be helpful for people to know the symptoms so if you spot an employee with some of the characteristics of burnout, you can stop it in it's tracks by offering some helpful advice. I've read a couple of books that have some great insight for those future and current managers of people. One is called I Quit But I Forgot To Tell You which is all about burnout and the other is Make Every Second Count which has a little blurb about burnout. I think the "I Quit" book should be required reading for every manager new and old- she is spot on about cases where burnout has gone to the point of being irreversible. I think it's a little too late for me actually following her book- but maybe some of the insights cataloged below can help someone else. Instead of providing book reviews (read those on Amazon if you are interested), I figured I walk through some common symptoms of burnout and catalog my experience.

Burnout: No Motivation

I lost my motivation- Have you Seen It? I know I have a million things that need to get done and people that need to be called and a schedule that needs some maintenance. Still- I'm bored. If that's the only way to describe your daily feeling, you may be on the path to burnout. Your tasks should engage you and be motivating you to the next step. If you have a task list that rivals the length of the morning Wall Street Journal yet you plod along through the day wishing you were somewhere else- you may have a case of burnout.

Coming Around: Be the Expert

Be the New Expert: get yourself more engaged by going back to the basics. Join those professional associations that you never seemed to have time for. Maybe you've forgotten why you started doing this thing in the first place or you've moved out of the original job into management or administration and your focus is a little fuzzy. Stoke the fire of your original passion by getting more involved in your professional community. In my case there is a local Engineers Without Borders chapter. Nothing rekindles the passion faster than helping others in need. Have a lover for photography? Offer to do some charity shots at the local children's hospital or even animal shelter. There's always a group that can use a hand and would appreciate those skills that are collecting cobwebs. Maybe you can approach your management about teaching a course. many companies have account numbers that would be available for course development and teaching. They save on the consulting fees and the coursework is reusable. You can pass along that knowledge to others and it can help provide a new vision to your management job as you improve your speaking skills, networking, and your new role as company expert in your field.

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