Don't let your top performers burn out

By Robyn McNeill | Aug 26, 13 12:03 PM

Keeping the people we truly value and who add the most value to our business is vital in today’s pressured and challenging environment.

Where would your business be without your top performers? 

What is their true value to you personally and also to your profitability?

Keeping the people we truly value and who add the most value to our business is vital in today’s pressured and challenging environment. 

Safe guarding top performers from overwhelming stress and burnout is a joint responsibility.  Both employers and employees must embrace creating a healthy minds culture and associated behaviours. However neither party can do it on their own - there are too many facets involved. 

So let’s look at three key areas in which you can help safe-guard your top performers against unhealthy stress and burnout…

1.  Access All Areas Thinking 

Gone are the days when people come to work for a specific period of time each day.  With mobile technology keeping us connected to work where-ever and when-ever we want to be, our work and personal lives are now fully united, whether we like it or not. 

An example of a “thinking change” mobile technology has bought is…

Organisational Thinking – “It’s OK to call or email my boss/colleague when they are on leave or sick – they have a mobile phone and laptop …”

Employee Thinking - I must keep my phone on and check my work emails whilst away on leave or sick because:

-          it’s expected of me

-          there are things only I can do

-          I might lose my job if I don’t

-          it’s easier than having to deal with issues when I get back

What is your organisations’ thinking?  Does it actively promote, support and respect employees time away from work? 

What are your top performers thinking?  Do they feel comfortable in fully dis-connecting from work?

Implementing some simple stress management and burnout prevention policies and strategies and “walking your talk” can go a long way to ensuring your top performers get the down-time they need in order to recharge their batteries, maintain clarity of mind and continue to be creative and productive.

2.  Expectations with Clarity – what do you want from me?

Expectations go beyond KPI’s and performance reviews. There are three main types – those we have of ourselves, those we have of others and those we perceive others have of us. 

For top performers, it is often conflicting “performance expectations” they perceive others have of them (both in the workplace and their personal lives) that feed their stress levels. Over a period of time, trying to constantly live up to these expectations manifests into burnout.

So how can these expectations be better managed?  A great place to start is by having a conversation to provide more clarity around perceived vs actual expectations.  Here are three steps you can take …

  1. Discuss your perception of what you believe they need/want from you by using “I think that you expect me to ...” and ask if your perception is correct.  If not, ask for more clarification
  2. Ask for details and examples of what they need and want from you
  3. Turn it around and discuss your expectations of them, then ask for feedback and questions

This process will provide clarity and understanding – much less stressful than confusion and misaligned expectations!

3.  Understanding our brains and stress – the science

Our brains create habit centers and our habit centers influence our reactions to stress triggers on a daily basis. 

This is where personal responsibility for stress and burnout prevention is to the fore. For this to happen within a work place, employees need to be equipped with the right knowledge and skills that allow them to take full control of their stress triggers and reactions.  Three key knowledge areas are:

-          Understanding their personal stress triggers

-          Recognising habitual reactions

-          Identifying how they are feeding their stress

Investing in robust prevention and early intervention stress and burnout coaching for top performers will prove to be a small cost in comparison to having them walk out the door.


Robyn is a Premium member of Business Chicks, request her online business card and connect with her here.

Robyn McNeill is the founder and Chief Burnout Buster at Beating Burnout and is a certified Neuroleadership coach who has developed a new era in stress and burnout prevention and early intervention programs, based on the principals of neuroscience and “brain-based” coaching. 

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