Turning Pickle Barrels into Wine Casks

Unrelenting pressure, backstabbing and undercutting, fatigue, feeling powerless and under appreciated spawn burnout.

According to Maslach and Jackson the six factors of burnout are:

  1. Working too much.
  2. Unjust environments.
  3. Little support.
  4. Working where you feel unable to effect change.
  5. Serving values you loath.
  6. Insufficient reward (whether the currency is money, prestige, or positive feedback).

When these factors persist you’ll crash and burnout, sooner than later.

More than overwork:

People who believe they can change things and that their work is appreciated, energetically work their butts off. But, powerless unrewarded employees inevitably burnout.

The opposite of burnout:

Engagement, not energy, is the opposite of burnout. Vitality is the result of engagement not its cause. Engaged people:

  1. Feel energized. Potential for work increases.
  2. Feel supported and support others. Connection and involvement improve.
  3. Feel powerful. Efficacy and effort build rather than decline.

Good news:

Reexamine the six factors of burnout. How many are organizational?

The enemy is us not them. “Imagine investigating the personality of cucumbers to discover why they had turned into sour pickles without analyzing the vinegar barrels in which they’d been submerged!” Maslach.

Burnout is more about organizations than individuals. It’s true that the young burnout more than the old and perfectionist burnout first. But more importantly, we are building inhumane work environments that cause burnout in all ages and personality types.

The good news is we can build organizations that engage rather than burnout.

Turning pickle barrels into wine casks:

  1. Give power and authority by turning approvals into reports.
  2. Send overachievers home. Overtime only works in the short-term.
  3. Trust people by eliminating bureaucracy.
  4. Celebrate more.
  5. Build on don’t tear down. Complaints don’t engage they defeat.
  6. Give honor and praise even if you can’t give cash.
  7. Explain and illustrate positive impact.

What can your organizations do to defeat burnout?


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