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FatigueLooking past outcomes to process all the time is taxing! It requires constant attention-to-detail as well as fighting natural inclinations and tendencies.

 

Fatigue is inevitable. As it creeps in, attention wanes and performance drops. At best, people achieve only a fraction of their productivity potential. At worst, they can create new problems and more work for their organization. Individuals can take steps to fight their own depletion. But sometimes it takes a leader's touch to refresh their staff.

 

The Ratio

Through trial and error, I have arrived at a 19 to 1 ratio: for every 19 hours of high-intensity work, people need an hour of structured decompression.

 

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emptybatteryWorking from depletion is hard. Most of us are doing that right now, having used up any crisis capacity we had earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are five things we can do to move forward.

Our Initial Crisis Capacity

When we worked from our crisis capacity, our personal and organizational energy surged as we leapt into action, froze up, or disconnected from the situation in front of us. We scrambled to adjust to shutdown orders, school closings, remote work, distance learning, uncertain toilet paper capacity, and cancelled events. This initial burst also translated into people helping others in some extraordinary ways – bringing meals to high-risk people so they didn’t have to go out, babysitting and school “pods”, and the relaxation of work rigidity to allow for the flexibility of parents working from home with their school-aged (and preschool) children suddenly in the mix.

But like one of those preschool-aged children after having eaten too many cookies, once the energy burst is over, the crash comes. This crash has happened both for individuals and organizations simultaneously. We used our reserves of energy, money, emotional/relational capacity, sleep, intellect, and the rest. Because the crisis has shifted from acute to chronic, many of the things we do to recharge and rebuild those reserves aren’t available to us.

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The Case of the Glory-Chasers

Glory ChaserI coached one of the nation’s elite schoolboy rugby programs for several years. It was my first big coaching job. I was so excited that I made a critical mistake: I did not take the temperature of the school administrators before accepting the job.

 

The admin had a singular focus. They wanted to win championships. The program had accrued second-place trophies in the State, Midwest, and National tournaments. The first ‘Ship had eluded them and they were desperate.

 

This fixation shaped the type of support the admin were willing to provide my program. They were convinced if our student-athletes just had enough will power, they could win any game. Meanwhile, they neglected or actively worked against the process that could produce on-field success.

 

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We have seen it happen: a frustrated facebook post goes awry. Screenshots are taken and shared widely across the medium. In mere minutes, someone makes the connection between the poster and their employer. Quickly, you are faced with a firestorm of public comments demanding you push a good employee out or risk the rising calls to “cancel” your business. What do you do? How do you avoid it? If it happens, how do you handle it?

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Many business leaders are understandably wary of approaching their staff about personal social media use. When the problem erupts, however, companies are often forced to publicly explain that “such comments are not in line with our values and mission.” Now, because the association has been dragged into the focus, the condemnation is not that you employ one reckless individual. The liability is that you have a culture problem.

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trustblocksHow often have you heard or even said the words unprecedented, essential, or pivot lately?

How rich would you be right now if you had a dollar for every time you said one of these words? No harm in dreaming, but let’s focus on the second word from the list…essential. Lots of factors are motivating businesses to figure out what is absolutely necessary.

There’s the saying that no one is an island. Sure, we have social distancing and physical distancing to help stop the spread of a virus, but successful businesses are not comprised of disconnected individuals working in silos. You might know the phrase: together everyone accomplishes more.

Teams are essential.

You can have a great business model and an excellent product, but if the team cannot work together to execute the business model to sell the product, the business will likely fail. Think about how much energy businesses invest in making sure their value proposition is just right, but the actual work environment itself hinders rather than helps a company’s growth.

Trust is essential for healthy teams.

Trust through Vulnerability

In the first section of her book, Dare to Lead, Brené Brown reminds us about research on psychological safety in relation to vulnerability. Take a moment to review the characteristics of two teams and think about which list best describes the kind of team you want to build your brand.

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