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Leadership Development 1, Requirement 4

Define the stages of burnout. Identify how you can utilize the strengths and skills of team members to avoid burnout in yourself and others. (min. 200 words)

The stages of burnout can be described in many ways, but here are some common stages:
  • Physical, Mental and Emotional Exhaustion – The first thing to show is tiredness and exhaustion: trouble sleeping and waking on time, mental tasks become more difficult, and tempers shorten. A "life outside of work" often suffers, and little gets done in your personal life as well. Often, feelings of illness or even panic attacks can accompany this stage, and can begin to lead to calling in sick or avoiding responsibilities.
  • Shame and Doubt – A feeling that you cannot manage to add to your responsibilities or a fear that additional work will be "the straw that broke the camel's back" develops. New responsibilities are avoided, not because of a lack of ability to do them, but because of a fear that you will lack the ability. This leads to fear that your regular job responsibilities are not "up to snuff."
  • Cynicism and Callousness – Fear leads to anger, and many people will find a change in their personality, trying to prevent people from coming to them with new issues, and even become paranoid that others are out to "get" them: they may feel that their job is in jeopardy, or that others might be outshining them. This stage can lead to physical issues.
  • Failure, Helplessness and Crisis – This stage is marked by major crisis and decision making, ironically at the point where you are least able to make those decisions. This is where many people do one of three things: 1) Break down; 2) quit their job; or 3) stay in their job and simply stop working. It's a point where everything comes apart, and everything starts to hurt.

Maslach and Leiter take a different approach to burnout, and re-focus it on the environment rather than on the individual. They indicate that burnout is not about an individual employee's failings or attitudes, but rather a result of the social environment on the job, caused by six common "major mismatches" between the nature of the person doing a job and the nature of the job itself. Larger mismatches are directly related to larger chances of burnout. These mismatches are:

  • Work Overload – Expectations for the completion of work are incongruous with the amount of work assigned. This is based partially on how much anyone might be expected to mange, but is really a different level for each individual, depending on their skill level: what is too much for one person may be "just enough" for another.
  • Lack of Control – People need to be given freedom to be creative in how they fulfill their job duties: too much control or too many rules about how people need to do things will stifle team members and lead quickly to burnout.
  • Lack of Reward – Not paying a person what the job is worth. This complicates volunteer positions, because they are not paid anything monetary. Still, encouragement, non-monetary awards, and ample praise counts as an award, as well: for volunteer positions, you must constantly thank your team members, and encourage them to thank and encourage each other, as well.
  • Lack of Community – Feeling isolated from your fellow team members, either by working alone on a project or through intra-team personality conflict.
  • Lack of Fairness – A lack of respect for individuals, as well as a lack of trust in their ability, can make a person feel unfairly devalued. Treating all team members as equals and listening to them can go a long way toward building fairness.
  • Value Conflicts – This is a disconnect between the values of the organization or the job description someone has been hired to fill and the values of the individual hired. A mismatch in values causes integrity conflicts and can undermine a team member's pride or self-respect.

Team members are a vital part of mitigating burnout: spreading responsibility around and bringing in new team members prevents work overload; trusting your team members to do the things that need done gives them control; encouragement and praise make team members feel rewarded and appreciated; keeping members working together on projects and not isolating them (and, in our case, keeping the focus on our religion) helps to increase a feeling of community; respecting individuals and their commitments equally promotes fairness; and having common values or virtues (like ADF's Nine Virtues) keeps the values of the Org in line with the values of individuals working toward the goals of the Org.



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