Build community, trust & autonomy: do ask & do tell!

I recently read an article highlighting the five contributors to employee burnout:

  • Lack of recognition
  • Lack of control
  • Loss of community
  • Excessive workload
  • Conflict

I apologize for not being able to cite the article’s author, I can only say that I made note of the list because it resonated with me.   While this list may vary somewhat from office to office, I am sure I am not the only one who would find it to be fairly representative of the concerns (setting aside pay, of course!) of the average over-burdened employee…

Many of us have limited ability to push back on the office workload and at least some of us are saddled with bosses and colleagues who score poorly on the ‘recognizes others’ scale.  Sadly, some of those bosses and colleagues demonstrate uncanny strengths on the point free ‘catalyzing conflict’ scale.

What can anyone do to reclaim her mental and motivational mojo?  Reclaim your community.

Rather than allow yourself to become disheartened about the demands of your office and be inclined to withdraw into isolation, work on building community with your work team. Foster a frank discussion about the issues you face together, how you’ll work as a team to solve them, and in what manner you’ll approach the task(s).   You can work as a bickering, back-biting, back-stabbing, brown-nosing bunch – and there’s a well-established model for that – or you can give each other the gift of consideration and feedback -professionally and artfully delivered- to be used to drive clarity, understanding, trust, and a commitment to each other.   In the office, few people relish the idea of initiating conversation that includes feedback: good feedback makes managers feel obligated to dole out the limited awards they may have in their arsenal and bad feedback is unpleasant (and fraught with danger!) to deliver.  And in any case, absolutely nobody wants to be on the receiving end of the sentence: “we need to talk.” The result is that few people get to hear meaningful feedback.

If you want to counter some of the other office ills that you cannot entirely control, invite your peers (people without PowerPoints) to sit in a room and just talk…about what drives you, what irritates him, who needs what to function best, who likes to do and is good at which tasks that have to get done, who needs to move deliberately vs who is genetically programmed with the need for speed, etc.  Agree as a team to continue to support this communicating and concerned community – and to be accountable to each other as opposed to competing with each other – for the good of the whole.   If you are successful in strengthening your community, you can contribute to your own autonomy, in-team recognition, a sense of being heard, overall satisfaction, and an ability to better tolerate some of the things that you cannot control.  When presented with an opportunity to build community, take it – and use the opportunity to understand what motivates others and share the same about yourself.  Share insight, needs, and preferences…and when it comes to feedback, DO Ask and DO Tell.