Finding ways to re-energise your work
Finding ways to re-energise your work
How do you feel about work? Are you suffering from job burnout or does work energise you?
Job Burnout is the fourth article in our series on improving motivation at work. The first article: In Search of Optimum Performance, introduces the series. If you haven’t read this article yet then it may be a good place to start.
Management is essentially a balancing act and the first article introduces a model which can help you to achieve optimum performance. The model is based on six common management problem areas:
Job burnout is an increasing scourge on our way of working. In this article we look at the characteristics of job burnout and suggest some ways to renew your energy for work. How would you recognise job burnout? According to Maslach and Leiter, three things happen to someone experiencing job burnout, they become:
Their findings, based on a study of a variety of professionals, provided an interesting conclusion. Whilst most responses to burnout typically focus on the individual, Maslach and Leiter discovered that the bigger problems were with situational factors in the organisation. Yes doing things individually can help, but the context and conditions in the workplace matter more. Managers therefore can do a lot to help ensure that conditions that reduce burn-out prevail.
If many of the factors associated with job burnout are situational, then managers can make a significant contribution to reducing burnout, and to increasing the energy for work amongst colleagues. Three key areas to focus on are:
As a manager have you balanced workload with expertise with your staff? For example, in our article on your view of work we stressed the importance of not being overloaded in your job. Fundamentally you should ask is there too much to do, and too few resources to do it with?
Do you give choice to staff about how they go about achieving the team’s goals? Secondly in our article about discretionary time we asked how much choice do you have in what you do and how you do it? Several surveys have found that control over what you do is important to encouraging motivation in the workplace
Do you encourage teamwork and a supportive environment? A pivotal area which can reduce job burnout is the sense of “connected-ness” to others at work. Again and again, relationships have been shown to be fundamental to people’s happiness, and social networks at work can re-inforce supportive behaviour, to reduce the risk of burn-out.
The responsibility of creating the conditions where job burnout is less likely to happen lies with the organisation. Central to the ability to do this is the sense of fairness within the organisation. That people are not asked or coerced into doing things which conflict with their values.
This is borne out by comprehensive research conducted by U.S. academics David Sirota, Louis Mischkind and Michael Meltzer, who concluded that employee motivation depended on three main areas: achievement; camaraderie; and equity. They deemed the most important of these to be equity; the sense of fairness in the organisation. For example, the moment appointments are made that counter that sense of fair play, or promotions are seen as favours, then a drain on the energy of individuals starts to take place.
Finally, in the light of what a manager and an organisation can do, we will consider some suggestions to keep your own positive energy high. Burnout saps you of energy and eventually leaves you exhausted. So what things can you do? In essence, you should seek out sources of energy, and try to deal with and remove those things which sap you of energy. It may well be that trying to use your strengths productively will do this. Certainly having a supportive network of people around you, whose energy you can feed off will help.
Here are some potential sources of energy that build on some of the principles discussed earlier:
Look at the Optimum Performance Graph below. If you are on the wrong side of the graph, what actions could you to take to move from burned out to re-energised? What can you do to enhance your work motivation and feel more energized with work? Ask yourself:
This is the third article in our series on improving work motivation. The first: In Search of Optimum Performance, introduces the series. If you haven’t read this article yet then it may be a good place to start. Management is essentially a balancing act and the first article introduces a model which may help you to achieve optimum performance.
Our Optimum Performance model is based on six common management problem areas:
Take a look at the Optimum Performance Graph, below. Think about these questions to see how you can improve your performance and workplace well-being:
For more on the Optimum Performance Series just follow the links in Further Reading.
If you’re looking for more resources on motivation at work, we’ve bundled together these six PDF e-guides to help you put motivation at the heart of performance. At half the normal price! Read the guides in this order and use the tools in each. These guides are great value, packed with practical advice, tips and tools on how to motivate yourself (and others) to perform. (6 pdf guides, 176 pages, 26 tools, 15 tips and 22 insights for half price!)
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