We meet many young, enthusiastic managers through the course of our work. While speed and agility is the flavour of the season, one silent but common refrain we’re hearing is, “Help, my team is burning out.”

As the pandemic has accelerated the cycle of high performance and defeat, so has burn-out cycles.

Help, my team is burning out.

– a manager’s silent cry for help
Help, my team is burning out.
Help, my team is burning out.

Burning out is extremely deflating, emotionally. They are also are contagious and can affect team performance and morale. 

An unkind word or a terse reply might escalate into a dispute; coworkers start to think the worse at the slightest provocation.

We find that middle managers are feeling under-appreciated and bear the brunt of daily challenges.

As a manager in a leadership role, how do you shift the morale of the group?

Here are three tips for young managers on how to build resilience:

  1. Understand the stressors & indicators of burnout
  2. Resilience is a mindset; it’s more than having a full tank
  3. Recharge for the present, rejuvenate for the future

While no one likes associating work as emotional, it is the very source of being human. All work demands emotional and energy investment in varying degrees. 

Your team’s energy and emotion can exist in any of these four zones: State of survival, state of high performance, burning out, and recharge.

Survival and Burnout zones contain the most negative emotions, while Performance and Recharge are positive in nature. 

A team that is burning out has depleted its energies and is emotionally negative. Burnout manifests in short tempers, low productivity, even for the simplest tasks, and you can very often see hopelessness and exhaustion in your team’s face.

An important reminder for any team in this state is that defeat is not permanent. Resilience is more than being performance-driven; it’s a state of mind.

Resilience is more than having a full tank. It misunderstood as being momentum and performance-driven. Yet, it’s not a trait, a habit or a skill, but it can be learnt.

The key to this is self-awareness, adapting, adjusting and reframing new perspectives.

We’ve found that high-performing managers are the first to withdraw from self-criticism when approaching burnout. Yet, the answer to burning out is not just about re-fueling at a pit stop.

A leader with a resilient mindset would withdraw, yes, but to perform a critical self-examination of the team’s capacity and capabilities, find its strengths and weaknesses, examine signals from the noise, and leads the team in supporting them to close the gap.

It’s in how Angela Duckworth describes the importance of passion and persistence: “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

Remember: You cannot cheerlead a burnt-out team into success.

You can build resilience by knowing when to reserve or optimise emotions and energies when there is a setback. Most importantly, by acknowledging that you will need to be comfortable with more uncertainty ahead.

It’s terrifying to admit failure. While the emotional weight is immense at this present time, it can create inertia. While acknowledging the emotion is important, do not let the burden become baggage that hinders you from moving on.

Remember, any setback you may encounter is temporary. It is crucial not just to move on but also to take conscious reactive and proactive steps to recharge or rejuvenate.

Recharging is the most straightforward act to relieve your team of the present. You can do this by introducing small breaks and relief from the daily monotony before returning to the task at hand.

Yet, this does not change the source of your stress or problem. Rejuvenating helps prepare you for the future: you can equip your team with new skills, perspectives and direction that fits your new reality.

If you enjoyed this article about leadership, read this article on building trust when leading new teams.

Learn how to help your people recharge and rejuvenate through D Jungle People’s webinar, Resilience: Strategies to Play The Long Game. For info, e-mail: [email protected]