December 22, 2022 7 Min Read
Avoid Employee Burnout with EOY Connection
That end-of-year rush is officially upon us. The time when December deadlines, performance reviews and celebrations swirl together in a perfect storm of tons of work and lots of play.
As a leader, you’ve got objectives to meet and targets to beat. But to wrap up the year as a win, your last push requires your team’s sanity. Balancing burnout prevention and goal smashing is certainly a delicate balance.
In the midst of what seems to be the season of extremes, TaskHuman Leadership Coach Jose Acevedo shares his number one tip for bosses of all kinds.
His go-to hack? Scheduling 1:1 meetings with each team member will help keep your people not just alive, but thriving, in the notoriously intense environment we call EOY.
But before you hit ‘Send’ on those calendar invites, ask yourself…’So, what can wait until January…?’ Look back at your plans and goals (because you of course have a meticulous strategy to consult!) and prioritize the projects that absolutely need to be completed before the end of the year.
Then, as you meet with each of your team members, check what they have left on their plate – and how they’re feeling about it. The theory behind the importance of 1:1 connection? Here’s how Jose puts it:
Clear up assumptions.
If stress levels are high, it may be based on an assumption that the project is end-of-year critical. If that’s the case, help your team member set aside tasks that can wait. And if it’s not? Let them know they can take a bit of the pressure off themselves and their workload this side of the new year.
Previously-set deadlines may be arbitrary. Now’s not the time to review internal processes or complete fun side projects, even if they were slated to be complete by now. Reiterate that these tasks can be pushed aside for things that impact the business’ bottom line.
Distribute the load.
Another upside? If one team member could use some help to meet a December delivery date, but their co-worker has nearly wrapped up for the year, you could ask for collaboration.
When you’ve exhausted your options for those with spare hours, it’s time to step in yourself. Even if you don’t have the technical skill-set to actually do the work, showing face will go a long way. If you’ve asked employees to work longer hours to complete time-sensitive tasks, stick around the office yourself in support.
Bring your true self to work.
Whether in 1:1s or late-night work sessions, make sure your true personality is shining through. Your team wants to get to know you as a whole –- not just your work-self facade. The end of the year usually involves more opportunities to socialize, so now’s a great time to let your guard down professionally. Maybe your team already knows about your knitting habit, but do they know you can tap dance or that won your school spelling bee back in the day? (Do we sense a talent show coming on…?)
And let them bring their true selves too.
Getting to know your employees better through those regularly-scheduled 1:1s and social gatherings can help you support their unique work styles. As your relationships deepen, you’ll be able to better read between the lines and pick up non-verbal cues of how they really feel.
Understanding where they fall on the introvert-extrovert scale will be helpful as well. It was once introverts who required a little more support when face-to-face offices were the norm. But as more work can be completed remotely, extroverts may be struggling with less opportunities for connection.
Ask for feedback.
The end of the year is also a good time for you to reflect on your leadership. Ask your team for feedback, and how you can best support them in the new year ahead. Then proactively schedule time in January (and regularly throughout the year!) to set a clear priority roadmap and help set new goals.
Finally, remember, this time of year is triggering to some. And not everyone celebrates an end-of-year holiday. Your 1:1 meetings will help you recognize and embrace your team’s differences. And on that note, remember to always use neutral, inclusive language when speaking about the season.
Ready to send out your invites but want to talk it through? Jose can help refocus on what really drives business – your people – and how to motivate people to do their best work. He’s standing by for a 1:1 with you, whether this year or next.