Burning Out Your Star Players? Resolve Not To

BurnoutWould you be surprised to learn that less than 30% of the population is still actively hanging in there with their New Year’s resolutions as we go to print?* That’s right, and at the six month mark that number drops to closer to 20%. Top resolutions likely wouldn’t be a surprise. Spend less and save more. Increase levels of fitness, health and happiness. And while I have never seen a list of resolutions with “burnout” or “overuse” on them…I have heard over and over from my professional network of examples of organizations being caught in an “acceleration trap” and of key players being overused to a point of diminishing returns in productivity…and morale.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “acceleration trap,” check out the Harvard Business Review article and interview with Heike Bruch, Professor of Leadership at a University in Switzerland. To paraphrase her work, some organizations take on too much in order to try to be successful, overloading employees beyond their time or other resource levels. Sound familiar? This perpetual loading “…deprives employees of any hope of retreat for recharging their energy.” As a Human Resource professional, I worry about overusing “A” players and their strengths during these accelerated times…perhaps to the detriment of other skills and/or their levels of satisfaction.

What’s a manager to do? Ideas for overcoming the acceleration trap are practical and useful. They including vetting current projects against this year’s goals, planning for and taking breaks before taking on new activities, as well as taking the time to celebrate accomplishments before you move on. Good ideas for the organization, and its employees. What else? The old adage “all things in moderation” is a good rule of thumb when giving out the next assignment. Or if sports are more your thing, remember that many times cross-training with another sport or activity can actually improve performance. In a business setting, it’s been shown to help keep employee interest high as they practice with or learn other skills.

While you might have a personal New Year’s resolution to run a marathon…most of us are engaged in the business of performing activities similar to that of running a marathon, and not a sprint. A resolution I intend to keep into the New Year is to be mindful of acceleration and overuse traps that may harm my best players and the team we play for. What resolutions do you intend to keep as a manager?

*Source: Follow me on the math here, 45% of the population make resolutions. Of that #, only 64% are still working on them past the one month mark.

This post was written by serial guest blogger Wendy Liberko, Yoh’s Senior Director of Training and Quality. Wendy brings wide and deep related experience to her role, along with formal education. Writing from Southern California, Wendy congratulates those of you who are still sticking with their personal, and professional, New Year resolutions.

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