Burnout

Prevent Burnout in Your Top Performers

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I have a couple of highly talented staffers who consistently exceed my expectations and do a lot of the heavy lifting in my department. I need to figure out how to continue to maximize their performance without burning them out.

A: You’re fortunate to have great people working for you, and it’s great that you’re not taking them for granted but instead want to prevent them from suffering burnout.

Start by letting them know that you’re aware of the contributions they make and that you value them. Do this privately whenever possible, but if your organization has any kind of formal recognition programs, be sure they get public acknowledgement as well.

Your most talented employees need feedback just as others do—and they usually are highly motivated to continue to grow and improve. In addition to giving your high performers the praise and recognition they deserve, be sure to provide suggestions for how they can perform at an even higher level.

In addition to giving your high performers the praise and recognition they deserve, provide suggestions for how they can perform at an even higher level.

Here are some more ideas for preventing burnout in your high performers:

Allow them to select a project to work on. Giving your top performers some control over their work should provide an extra incentive to perform well, and it lets them know how much you trust them. Encourage them to pick a project in an area that they enjoy more than their other assigned tasks, which should make the job less stressful.

Consider putting teams or pairs of your best staffers together. This way, they can share the heavy lifting that you mentioned. Doing this should also help with team development in your department.

Watch closely for any drop in performance. A decline in a strong employee’s performance might signal the beginning of burnout. Does this person suddenly take a lot of time off, or do you notice a decline in energy level? If so, it’s time for you to step in and privately inquire into what’s causing the change in performance. Your top performers won’t usually let you know they’re burned out, because it’s in their nature to always give 110 percent. So it’s up to you to find out if there are work-life issues you can help resolve.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].
Performance Management