I get asked a bunch of questions about… you know… stuff. And in the early morning hours I enjoy responding (hopefully) thoughtfully and thoroughly. A couple members of my team suggested I start sharing my advice. Previous AMA’s are here. So, without further ado, please enjoy this installment of Ask MilEs Anything:
A reader asked me: “How do you help those on your team with burnout move from doing a job, to getting back to a mission driven approach?”
This is something with which a lot of people struggle and a natural segue from a question we answered last week about how to handle your own burnout. As our Chief Plate Spinner, Laura, pointed out to me, Gallup recently updated their disengaged workers in America statistic. I used to say it was $350 billion. That’s actually a couple of years old. New research shows that it’s grown by about 33%. It’s now at a minimum $450 billion up to perhaps $550 billion.
Half a trillion dollars in lost productivity due to disengaged employees.
So, first of all, know that it’s systemic, you’re not alone in having these problems. Let’s start at the very foundation of what you’re asking which was: How do you help those on your team with burnout move from doing a job, to getting back to a mission driven approach?
Think of it this way.
Think of a mentor, someone who meant the world to you or means the world to you. Living or dead. Could be a teacher could be one of your first bosses could be your grandfather or your mother. Write a letter telling them why you get out of bed to do what you do and help the people you help in your industry.
Scrape away all the Mission Statement speak, business talk, and cliches. Get rid of the words with meanings that have been leached out over the years because clever advertising agencies come in and try to wordsmith a mission statement for you.
Make it as simple, authentic, and honest of a language as you can muster. Make it as personal a tone as you can generate. Talk just to this person whose opinion means (or meant) more to you than anyone in the world and tell them why you get out of bed to do what you do. Tell them how you help people and why it matters that you help people.
Share that with your team.
Then, and this is really important, be prepared for the bounce back from that. You may lose some people. But, in that transition, it will be the best thing to happen to them and to you. They have a different Northern Star that they should follow.
But those who do understand your non-business-speak-purpose can be re-energized. If you’re very careful about what you do next. Your next right thing is to create a series of contests, exercises, or chances to be rewarded for embodying that purpose.
You have to clarify simply and eloquently where it is you’re trying to go and with what values in your brand diamond you’re going to use to get there. Then you have to engage your team with the same sense of purpose you have, to get where you want to go.
And then you improve.
Whether it’s revenues, net profit, or employee engagement you improve what you measure and reward. So come up with a series of contests your team can participate in and reward them. Little victories. They don’t have to be expensive. There’s a great book we recommend by Bob Nelson, Ph.D. called 1501 Ways to Reward Employees.
More than how you are rewarding them, make sure to think about for what you’re rewarding them. Then, those celebrations become a very public and very authentic way to share your sense of purpose that will not only get your employees to shake out of the mindset of “I’m just coming to work every day” and get them to look forward to the next celebration. They will be focused on the next intrinsic value with which you’re measuring them.
It will help you remind yourself why you do the things you do and that may be the most important cornerstone to getting your company back to a mission driven approach.