How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions,
and create meaningful actions for improvement?
One researcher found that 29% of American employees say they thrive in their jobs (or 71% do not thrive). A study out of the Stanford Business School noted ten factors that may be killing you in your workplace. Another source explains that “burnout syndrome” can manifest in three forms: overload, boredom, and worn-out.
What causes burnout? Does the individual hold responsibility? Do poor managers create it? Do we see out-of-work place factors (like family-work integration or financial considerations) creating in-workplace stressors? All of the above? Something else?
One of the early scenarios of my new book gives the reader a chance to confront the issue of burnout straight on and consider coping strategies. While I wrote the scenario specifically for college and university faculty, I believe you can apply it to other professions. Take out the reference to “faculty” and insert your occupation, for example.
You may work in the ideal environment where burnout is minimal to non-existent. If so, I would like to learn about what makes it so. Leave a comment on this blog.
For those who either deal with burnout personally (as an employee or manager) or work/live with someone in a slow burnout, I offer the text of my Scenario #6: “I Don’t Want To Burnout” below. Following the scenario, you will find reflection questions to serve as conversation starters about burnout and strategies to deal with it. How can you recognize warnings of stress and burnout? What steps can you take to address these issues?
Video recommendation for the week.
Let me set the stage with a quick 57-second video.
For more hands-on introductory videos, visit my video playlist.
Professor Johnson decided to clear a space in her calendar to attend a series of on-campus reflective practice discussions. Even though this is her first semester as a full-time faculty member, her faculty mentor suggested she consider this workshop. “It will provide you with strategies to become more aware of what and why you do what you do in the classroom.”
At the initial meeting, the workshop facilitator asked the participants why they had signed up for these reflective practice sessions. Professor Johnson was prepared to say jokingly that her mentor made her do it—but as she listened to her more senior colleagues share their reasons, she came to a different and more sobering realization.
Of the nine faculty members participating in this workshop, two said they were present because they had burned out and had lost their passion for teaching. They hoped this might help rekindle their spirits. Four other colleagues said they were in the process of a slow burnout. They were experiencing difficulty connecting with their students as they once had done. They could sense they were losing patience with their students and colleagues. Each said it had become tougher to find meaning in their work.
Professor Johnson took in each of these genuine responses. When her turn came around, she simply stated, “I don’t want to burn out. That is why I am here. I want to learn from you what to do and what not to do.”
Reflect on This
- What causes burnout?
- Can we avoid burnout?
- If Professor Johnson came to you and asked you for strategies to avoid burnout, what would be your top two or three strategies?
- What resources are available at your institution to help faculty avoid or at least recognize burnout?
Like our professor in the above scenario, recognition can (and needs to) generate questions about why we find ourselves in such situations. How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions, and create meaningful actions for improvement?
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.
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Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.