The typical strategy for alleviating sales team burnout is to let your people gain the courage to tell you, or to proactively implement some half-assed "no meeting Friday" policy.
These standard approaches are acceptable in nature but useless when it comes to scaling an organization, and it also means your people are left in the lurch, waiting for their leader to come to save them. Employee burnout is costly for your team performance, company growth, and employees' satisfaction and overall perception of you as a leader.
Instead of guessing or, even worse, turning a blind eye, you can prevent employee burnout and other performance-related issues. With the correct data and cutting-edge tools, this tool can help you keep an ear to the ground at all times, predicting issues like employee burnout, shaky mental health, D&I issues, and drops in performance (before it takes a nosedive).
We created this document to help give you an outline of things you can do if your team starts to trend towards burnout.
The Playbook Program will run over a period of a quarter and is designed to be used with your teams that are either in the MEDIUM or HIGH-risk ranges within the LEON Performance Index.
This program is built for a time period of a quarter and progresses in what we at LEON call “blocks”.
Block one will be what we call the “prevention block”.
This block will have a support focus. The goal is to down-regulate stress, and help your team re-commit to the team mission. I want to make sure that your teams feel supported in heard during this phase.
Block two is the “build block”.
This block starts to add in a mixture of both support and challenge Playbooks. The goal is to start adding stress, while we maintain focus on team building. We want to help our employees work back into high performance.
Block three is the “performance block”.
The final performance block has a focus on improving performance and resiliency. This is where we add stress back into the equation and take advantage of the growth window we have.
Manager and Team Playbooks
This program contains two types of Playbooks:
Support and Challenge Playbooks
And two types of Playbook strategies:
Normally we would have you collect a series of data to better understand your team, and have you implement specific Playbooks based on needs. But for this process, we are going to assume that each team member is trending towards or is experiencing burnout.
And let’s be honest, if you really wanted to know this, you would be a LEON user already :)
So that said, our first block will have what we call a support focus. The goal is to begin slowly and to make it approachable to each and every employee. For the first month, we will begin with three Playbooks for you to implement with your team.
As a manager, the goal will be to understand workload, while we strive to align on team mission and improve team or company culture.
Alleviate Stress With Anecdote Circles
We humans are essentially "storytelling animals" (MacIntyre 1981), and studies have shown that by interacting with others, "Two stressed people equals less stress" (USC Marshall 2014).
Anecdote Circles is a workshop/group method that creates a safe space for teams to alleviate their stress by sharing their stories. Anyone can facilitate; people should self-nominate for that.
Everyone gets a turn, without interruption, while others take notes on the key points of the story they are listening to. After that, as a group, look for similar patterns in the stories, and discuss.
Understand And Manage Team Workload
Organizing and productivity expert, Julie Morgenstern, says: “If you overwork your high performers, you will lose them because they start to resent the fact that they’re doing more.” Balancing your team’s workload is no easy task and hopefully this Playbook will help you effectively manage it.
Address Toxic Behavior In Your Team Immediately
One of the detractors of happiness is terrible behavior. This type of behavior can manifest in abusive comments, discriminatory actions, sexual harassment, inappropriate conduct at team gatherings, and more.
Unfortunately, some of this behavior may arise with your team. For example, it’s possible for team members to send lewd comments over team chat tools or to act unprofessionally at team retreats.
Your role as a manager is never to ignore this behavior. However, identifying inappropriate conduct, or investigating once reported to you, is essential for fostering a team environment where everyone feels safe and respected.
Block two starts adding a mixture of support and challenge Playbooks.
This is where the fun starts to begin! During this time, your team is starting to transition out of a fatigued state, and your well-being is finally starting to stabilize.
When this stabilization process begins, it will be important to initiate the process of introducing stress again.
Playbooks during this phase move from a “prevention” phase to a “build” phase, and we will be using a mixture of support and challenge Playbooks will help in building physiological resiliency.
Use Google's "One Simple Thing" Method
Google makes a popular goal-setting practice available to encourage personal well-being called "One Simple Thing."
Use this Playbook to help individual contributors set personal goals to improve their well-being and work-life flexibility. Then, managers can help their team members adhere to those goals.
Break Up The Monotony
While burnout is linked to long hours, poor work-life balance, and our glamourization of overwork, work monotony or "boreout" happens when we are bored by our work to the point that we feel it is meaningless.
Our job seems pointless, our tasks devoid of value.
Monotony doesn’t get as much attention as its workaholic cousin. Still, experts say that this phenomenon – which occurs across industries – can result in some of the same health problems for workers.
It’s also bad for companies because a workforce with work monotony can lead to high staff turnover.
A Slack Playbook To Improve Recovery And Productivity
In the UK, 44% of stress or depression at work is caused by a high workload.
An unmanageable amount of workload can lead to a myriad of issues, ranging from depression, anxiety, chemical dependencies, and in some cases, suicide.
The team at Slack tackles this problem by encouraging employees to set their Slack status to “focus time” when handling individual work or “connecting” to signal their availability to collaborate.
Recently they doubled down on mental health recovery by trying its first-ever “Async Week,” where 20,000 of its nearly 70,000 employees canceled routine meetings to make more time for solo work.
Of those who participated in the experiment, 72% said it made them more productive, and 70% reported less stress.
Block three is what we in sports science call the “performance” phase.
In this phase, we are moving to a place where we can start ramping up stress and introducing more advanced levels of Playbooks to achieve a higher level of output.
Taking a more methodological approach to performance — like we are doing here — allows you to be more thoughtful and not only HOW, but also WHEN you introduce new levels of stress.
During this phase, challenge Playbooks such as upskilling or even allowing your team time to work on side projects are highly recommended.
Implement Feedback Week
Feedback is a critical component in improving performance organization-wide and is a two-way street. Not only is it important for managers to regularly provide feedback to their direct reports, but employees should share it with their managers and their peers as well.
Using this as motivation, The Playbook we call "Implement Feedback Week" is a one-week process where managers send this Playbook to request anonymous feedback from their team - on any topic they may choose.
Time To Coach Up Your People
An excessive level of stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on learning.
As a matter of fact, stress has been shown to greatly impact skill acquisition and learning ability in professional athletes.
With this Challenge Window being open, now would be a great time to go sit in and observe your people perform their jobs.
Run A Peak Month To Achieve Faster Growth
Now that your team has a decreased risk of burnout, what if you used this same concept for the upcoming month or quarter?
All-in for a specific time, with one "recharge week" built-in?
Here is the play:
Use this Playbook to commit your team to go all-in for a month, with a week-long recovery period at the end of the Playbook, where your people can recharge and recover.
Try out this Playlist with your team, or find an even better Playbook in the Playbook Library that works best for your team.
You can search, start, set due dates, customize and send it to your team right through LEON.
Get started with LEON today.