Preventing Work From Home Burnout

In my coaching and consulting business, I hear leaders ask all the time how they can make sure that people are being productive while they’re at home. I especially hear this from those that work in a hybrid office, that is an office where some people work in the office and some people work from home.

Leaders are so focused on this productivity question that they ignore the other side of the equation. This other side of the equation is what is happening to people who are at home. Contrary to a common belief that people enjoy staying at home and that it’s almost a vacation, working from home can be very challenging. I have heard many stories of parents being forced to school and entertain their kids continually, all while trying to work with slow Wi Fi, a kitchen table for a desk, maybe a closet for an office and the inability to walk down a hall to somebody else’s office to get answers.

And the worst of it all is knowing that the people back in the office think they’re all just goofing off. This has an extremely negative and long-term impact on the stay at home workforce. It lowers productivity, increases anxiety and stress. And it causes turnover.

The current situation is unlikely to go away anytime soon. It’s most likely that we’ll be living with work from home and hybrid offices for some time to come. So, what do we do to improve this situation?

Start with being flexible. We often think of flexibility as simply allowing people to work from home. But this is far from the truth. Many companies, for example, will insist that employees are at their computers continually during the workday. Some of them even have high tech monitoring systems to make sure that their workers are always at their computer. While this may be necessary sometimes, leaders should really consider if it is essential to have all their employees sitting at their computer all the time in all situations.  Allowing asynchronous communication, which is being able to respond in their own time frame, can really ease the burden on those working from home while giving competitive advantage to the organization. However, with the proliferation of text messaging and instant messaging, we have created an expectation of synchronous communication.  We expect instantaneous feedback and instantaneous response. Maybe it’s time to revisit this.  Allowing people to respond in their own timeframe really eases the stress.

Be respectful of time and breaks, especially if you’re leading a team that works across multiple time zones. Finding a time that is reasonable for each participant helps enormously, even if that means you must rotate your schedule, so that nobody gets stuck with that dreaded midnight Zoom meeting. Also, make sure you allow time for the work-from-home people to have breaks where they’re not expected to be on. This is nothing more than being consistent with how things work in the office. There are times when people go to lunch have a coffee break, etc.. Allow your work-at-home people to do the same.

Check in with your people. People working from home often feel invisible or disconnected especially if you’re in a hybrid office. Make sure that you are proactively reaching out. Many of the people who work at home aren’t going to feel comfortable just reaching out to you. They will continue to work invisibly unless you proactively reach out to them.

Work from home burnout is a very real danger to organizations today and going forward. Take proactive steps today to head this off and keep your at home employees in a good space.

How to Give Tough Feedback

Giving feedback is an important part of any leader’s job. It’s also one of the most difficult things for a leader to bring themselves to do, especially when the feedback is critical.

There are different reasons for this discomfort. Many leaders worry about whether someone’s going to be angry, or somebody’s going to cry. Or they worry about not being liked or not being popular with their team. And sometimes, they just don’t know what to say.

This often leads to leader trying to mix in tough feedback with positive feedback, like a sandwich. We’ve all seen this. We’ve all had people say, you did a great job, but you could have done this better, but you’re doing a great job still. Almost like they can’t make up their mind.

The problem with this approach is simply, it doesn’t work. Some people will hear the sandwich and focus on the positive; especially if they have a strong ego. They will tune out the negative. In other words, they won’t hear the feedback that you want them to hear.

Others will pick out the middle of that sandwich and take the negative too seriously. And then many will just plain be confused with mixed messages that you’re sending out. None of these outcomes will lead to better performance, which is what you want.

Leaders who truly make an impact with their team follow a three-step approach to giving tough feedback.

  1. They describe the behavior that they want to correct. The key word here is describe. It’s not a judgmental statement. For example, they won’t say ‘you were really careless in submitting that proposal’. Rather they describe the behavior as it appeared. Something like, ‘I noticed that you did not review their proposal before submitting it’.
  2. They talk about the impact of the behavior. An impactful leader will say something like ‘the proposal contained errors which lowered our chances of getting approval’. Now, if this is an ongoing issue, they might also talk about the impact of this issue on their relationship ‘this is creating a trust issue between us. This is creating friction’. It’s important for the person getting the feedback to understand the implications not only on the work itself, but on the relationship that they have with their leader.
  3. They tell the employee what they would like them to do going forward. This should be direct and specific. In the above example, it could be something like asking them to review the proposal before submitting. Another way to approach this is to adopt a coaching approach and ask them what they can do differently to avoid these mistakes in the future. But be careful here. If you have one specific thing in mind that you want them to do, don’t ask them what they would do. You will be putting them in a situation where they have to guess what it is that you want. And it’s not really a fair thing to do to anybody.

Being direct with your feedback and focusing clearly on a behavior you want them to work on, is a far more effective way of driving results than beating around the bush and trying to spare their feelings. Incorporate that into your feedback approach and you will see much better results!

Abbie Mirata on Living With Gratitude and Joy

abbie mirata

Abbie Mirata is a corporate executive, speaker, joy coach and business owner. From the title of wife and mom to the title of franchise owner to the title of corporate leader, whatever hat Abbie is wearing, she is focused on impacting people, creating community and building a kinder world. She believes people are looking for a human connection in the companies they do business with. Abbie draws from her experiences to help others focus on cultivating joy and finding the light they give from within themselves, each and every day.

Abbie Mirata uses her process of 5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Joy Joints ™ to empower individuals at work or at home to be able to gain control of their own responses and reactions to the world, redefine joy as a value and help you maintain your sanity, while keeping your humanity

Podcast Highlights

Who is Abbie Mirata? 

Abbie’s story began when she had her first child because that experience changed the trajectory of her life completely. She needed to figure out how to take care of her child and that led Abbie to a career in real estate. 20 years later she was at the top of her game but felt like she hadn’t accomplished anything. 

Now she’s still in the corporate world, but Abbie is also a co-owner of a retail business with her husband, a joy coach, and a non-profit that teaches young people compassion and how to bring joy into their life.

Joy Joints

Joy Joints are an analogy for your ability to build joy as a value inside yourself, in the same way that you build muscles. By exercising your Joy Joints, you can take control of the way that you engage with people in your life.

We have to be self aware of how we come across to other people and humble enough to try to change those perceptions. As a leader, Abbie used to expect people to do what she said simply because she was the boss. When she felt that she wasn’t being fulfilled with what she was doing, she realized that part of that was how she was operating and her relationships with her team.

Abbie left the corporate world and began to study compassion. It began with asking more questions and after a few years of transformation Abbie had the opportunity to reenter the corporate world with a new, more compassionate mindset.

Abbie now focuses on empowering her people and pulling ideas out of them, then celebrating them. She encourages communication among the team and tries to be more supportive and understanding of where people in her team are at over the course of the day. It’s much more common now for Abbie’s team to tell her that she made a mistake.

Many people in a leadership position are afraid of getting that honest feedback from their team, but there are a number of people that would benefit from that kind of open communication.

Trust

You and your team can achieve exponentially more when there is a high level of trust.

What does joy mean?

Joy means lots of different things to different people. For Abbie, joy is a value and guides her in a way that most people don’t think of.

We feel emotions based on the things that happen around us and most of the time we don’t have control over those things. We are placing an enormous amount of expectation on other things and people to make us happy, which often leads to us feeling disappointed when they don’t live up to those expectations.

As a value, joy is up there with integrity and trust. When it becomes a value it becomes a guiding star that helps you make decisions. It will also help you shape your reactions to negative situations and help you see the interaction through the lens of joy. 

Joy and Stress

When you develop your joy muscles, it allows you to handle stress in a different way. A component of joy is letting the little things go and when you can do that, formerly stressful situations are seen in a different light. Instead of knocking you down, you have the space to respond instead of reacting.

It helps you to avoid internalizing those stresses that eventually cause you to break down.

Work always involves stress. As a leader, it’s important to take a step back and ask what you are taking in. Stresses in the home can show up at work, and the same is in reverse. You should also look at what content and media you consume because that has an impact as well.

Abbie also recommends you put Joy on your calendar. That can take a number of different forms and whatever brings you joy and recharges your batteries works. Building strong Joy Joints needs to be made a priority and by putting it onto your calendar makes it more concrete and increases the odds of you actually following through.

Links:

Sign up for the webinar here: https://aimtowinllc.com/stress-awareness-webinar/

https://abbiemirata.com/

http://facebook.com/abbiemirata

http://instagram.com/abbiemirata

https://www.linkedin.com/in/abbie-mirata-2020289/