I’ll never forget early in my management career, getting an email from my boss at 5:43 am. I was getting ready for work, just out of the shower, hair dripping wet, checking email before driving to the office. I was wound up a little tight over this new position and this new boss. I wanted to impress. I made sure to reply to his email immediately, so he’d know I was “on it.”
The problem is, I was “on it” too much of the time. I gave the job all the time I possibly could, any hour of the day.
Not healthy. Not wise. Not a good example to my team.
How about you? Could you possibly be suffering burn out because you’re “on” too much of the time?
According to research, being “on” all the time is causing a real energy drain for millennial managers, threatening their performance.
So, what should you do about the overwhelming demands of your job as a manager? How can you ensure a healthy balance, giving your best to your work and your personal life?
Here are three important things…put guard rails around your time, delegate effectively, and develop yourself professionally.
Put guard rails around your time
Set times when you turn the work off
This should be daily (say, after 7 pm), weekly (maybe you don’t work on Sundays for example), and vacation time. Honor the time-off commitments you make to yourself. Of course, things will sometimes come up that truly demand your attention during your scheduled off time. But if you get serious about it, more often than not you can honor the commitments you make to yourself (and your family) to be off.
Model a healthy work-life balance for your team
It’s especially critical for leaders to model this in our work-from-home pandemic era. Let your employees know you’ve committed to your own off time. Don’t answer emails in off hours. Now, if you’re a night owl, and you really want to spend your time doing that, then schedule those emails to go out during business hours. You don’t want to send other people into a work frenzy during off hours when they see your email come in. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s heroic to respond to emails at all hours. People will interpret your all-hours effort to mean they’re supposed to do the same. This breeds resentment, unhealthy competition, and burn out in your team.
Another reason you may be weary? Maybe you’re not delegating as well as you could.
Make sure you aren’t holding onto work that you shouldn’t be. Effective delegation is one of the most critical skills of a manager. When leaders don’t delegate, they keep the work to themselves, risking burnout and resentment, and they stifle the growth of their employees. That’s a recipe for mediocrity at best!
Make sure you delegate with clarity. The person you delegate to should be clear about these things:
- Why is this task important? How does it connect to the big picture?
- What resources and support do they have?
- What will a successful outcome look like?
- When is the work due?
- When and how will you monitor their progress (e.g., a midpoint check-in)?
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” – John Maxwell
Build your employees’ capability and confidence by delegating tasks that allow them to grow. This will create space for you to manage at a more strategic level.
It’s been a challenging year and a half for every one of us. And one thing that’s probably been pushed aside is your own professional development.
Slogging it out with the same skills and techniques you’ve always used can be tiresome. But you can find renewed joy in your work by rediscovering your strengths and building new competencies. It can be even more rejuvenating to do this discovery and development with a small cohort of professionals, in the context of socialized learning and relationships. In an era where we’ve all felt incredibly isolated, this setting provides growth, camaraderie, and perspective.
You don’t have to suffer burnout. Guarding your time off, delegating effectively, and developing yourself are gifts you give yourself, your employees, and your loved ones. Don’t wait to put these ideas into practice. The risks to your health and happiness, and your team’s effectiveness, are not worth it!
I challenge you to commit to 30 days of guarding your time off, delegating more intentionally, and finding a leadership development cohort to join. Then check in with yourself to see how it went. And let me know! I’d love to hear about it!
Want a great first step in developing yourself? Take the Everything DiSC Agile EQ assessment. After you complete this research-validated, online assessment you’ll get your personal Agile EQ Profile via email. The 26-page Profile reveals deep insights into the mindsets that shape the way you interact with people. You’ll also discover strategies to become more agile in your approach to social and emotional situations. Who doesn’t need that right now?