Managing Burnout in today's world is more akin to being a performance manager in the world of sport than it is to the world of Henry Ford and assembly lines.
It is a world where we strive to understand the "window" of performance we have with our teams and how best we can drive hockey-stick, sustainable growth while at the same time reducing the risk of team Burnout.
That said, we understand that stress comes with the job, right? And that no matter how much you prepare, shit will inevitably hit the fan.
So, good leaders don't just focus on long-term strategies, philosophies, and frameworks to build a "fire-proof" company, but they also rely on tactics like fire extinguishers to quickly put a fire out the moment they smell smoke.
At LEON, we call these fire-extinguishers Playbooks. They are tried-and-true tactics that can be implemented immediately, the moment something like Burnout is beginning to give off the faint smell of smoke.
According to the World Health Organization, "Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
Three dimensions characterize it:
According to LEON, while helpful, this definition is a bit misleading.
A large body of evidence suggests that Burnout emerges predominantly because we so often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to minor, acute physical emergencies, but we turn it on for months/years on end, worrying about OKRs, working from home, and promotions.
That daily dose of stress that we feel when we open up Slack, sit down with our manager for our weekly one-on-one or see our increased sales goals for the upcoming quarter causes a never-ending mental and physical stress that adds up over time.
Over time, when left unmanaged, these stress responses build up, causing a massive response from our autonomic nervous system, which eventually presents as a work-related mental health condition we know of today as Burnout.
But how do we treat this stress response?
And how do we keep driving growth while protecting our most important asset: our people?
While fixing every negative issue that could impact Burnout within our teams may not be in the cards, running a Playbook to help start the recovery process is.
You see, much like in sports, understanding when and how to trigger a recovery response with our people is the sweet science of leadership.
Airtable, the super-unicorn we all know and love, understands that sweet science. They appreciate that truly driving high-performance in our teams is about understanding when to hit the gas and gun for the horizon and when to slam on the breaks and slow down.
Hence the reason for this Burnout Playbook inspired by Airtable.
At the start of 2022, Chief People Officer at Airtable, Johanna Jackman, implemented what the team at Airtable calls "radical flexibility."
Part of that effort revolves around attacking team burnout with a Playbook they refer to as "Focus Weeks."
This Playbook concept is built on the idea of using a shorter week where everyone is encouraged to cancel recurring meetings and focus on more dense, long-term work.
The goal of these weeks is to hit "reset," prioritize more critical tasks and focus on heads-down work without having to cut through the noise of a traditional workweek.
Most of their employees responded positively to a recent survey on these newly implemented policies. For example, 90% were satisfied with Focus Weeks, saying they increased overall well-being, reduced "Zoom fatigue," and created space for more critical work to get done.
From a science perspective, this focus on deep work allows the team at Airtable to down-regulate the body's nervous system and trigger a recovery response.
This same strategy has been used in professional sports teams leading up to significant events and Special Operations units before deployments.
It can be a powerful stimulus to elicit a recovery adaptation while at the same time shifting the body from a state of fight or flight to a state of rest and recharge.
So, the next time your team is trending towards Burnout - a support window in LEON terms - use this Playbook for a short time to help your team recover while also driving performance.
When it comes to understanding when to implement this Airtable Playbook, there is one question you must ask yourself.
In the context of Airtable, this Playbook allows managers and teams to down-regulate stress while decreasing cognitive load and total work volume.
In the world of LEON, this Playbook would be considered a Support Playbook.
Read more about Support Playbooks.
Check out the demo below to see how easy it is to find and start a Playbook with your super-powered team!
You can search, start, set due dates, customize and send it to your team right through LEON.
Get started with LEON today.