According to Trello contributor, Kat Boogard, here are a few signs that your team may be overwhelmed:
- Energy levels are dipping. Studies show that “work-related stress is directly correlated to fatigue.” When employees who are normally energetic and proactive are more reactive and disengaged, “it’s time to take a closer look at what’s happening.” When we are pushed to our limits, it’s common for us to feel tired.
- Work quality is decreasing. When your team or individual employees deliver work with more errors than usual or the overall quality is decreased, you should begin to ask some questions. Stress often can “hinder focus, delay work, and increase mistakes.”
- Emotions are frayed. Irritability and anger come across more frequently when teams are overworked and stressed. This can create cracks in a positive workplace culture that leaders work so hard to cultivate and maintain.
It is important to remember that people handle stress differently. Leaders must develop emotional intelligence and check in with their employees about how they are doing.
Leaders must rebalance projects, priorities, deadlines, and team members. However, there are usually deeper issues at play that have allowed team overwhelm to build up. The best way to help your team through periods of overwhelm and stress is to prevent the feelings from building up in the first place.
Here are some ways leaders can prevent team overwhelm:
- Organize the mess and reduce stress. Sometimes being overwhelmed at work is not always due to the quantity of work on an employee’s task list. “Sometimes,” writes Boogaard, “it’s about not knowing where to start because…projects, tasks, and objectives are a tangled mess.” The leader should help to provide structure and organization to the employee’s workload.
- Walk the walk when it comes to self-care. Boogaard shares that “when employees see their managers working long hours and spreading themselves thin, [they] feel pressure to live up to that example.” Leaders must demonstrate self-care.
- Host regular ‘vibe checks.’ Have authentic conversations with your employees before they are at their limits and you can reduce and prevent accumulated stress. Leaders must pay attention to the mental wellbeing of their team in order to have a sustainable organization.
- Live up to your ‘Open Door Policy.’ Be willing to ask yourself the hard questions: Are you approachable as a leader? Do your employees truly feel like they can approach you? These questions can begin a leader’s process of evaluating the organizational culture they model.
About DeBoer Fellowship
The DeBoer Fellowship develops change leaders across all sectors of Myanmar society. Through a multi-year training class and additional public programs, the DeBoer Fellowship serves Myanmar by helping to grow competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders. For more information about DeBoer Fellowship or to apply for the Fellowship, please visit: www.deboerfellowship.org.