The unfortunate truth is that many managers, especially those in high growth environments, must create their own support networks – both within their organization and outside of it.
We wanted to provide some helpful frameworks around how to set yourself up for success and to prevent the all-too-familiar burnout that comes from excessive emotional and mental expenditure and starved self-care and recovery.
Support networks are arguably the most important strategy of the three mentioned here today. We are in the people business, so people are ostensibly going to be the biggest lever for your collective success.
There are many kinds of support networks but we think the following are most critical for long-term success. It's important to note that putting all your "support eggs" into just one of these baskets will prove to be challenging for you and the people in the networks. You need to be able to tap different kinds of people for the different layers that we're excavating.
This is perhaps the hardest part of preventing burnout. When you're working in a fast-paced organization, things are growing, people are moving and succeeding – stopping to recover seems counter-productive, maybe even selfish. But anyone who is into fitness knows that a day of recovery not only sets them up for success the next day, it actually improves their overall performance in the long run.
How do you approach recovery in a busy, demanding organization? You normalize and measure it in your team. From sprint planning to retros, make recovery something that is tracked and carefully maintained. You as the manager need to set the standard. If you have worked non-stop for a couple of weeks with no recovery days, that behavior becomes normalized for your team. Even if it feels unnatural and even scary, take the day (or half-day or afternoon) and reset and recover.
This allows for your team to get used to what it feels like to work and maintain momentum when team members are resting. If this is a new practice, it'll be awkward at first, but over time, it'll become a huge asset to your culture.
Two-way feedback is a simple and powerful way to encourage transparency and mitigate surprises. Your team members will not be honest will you if honesty is a one-way street. For example, if the only time you ask how you can improve is during the annual review, your team members will not feel comfortable sharing. Why? Because it's not a normalized, utilized behavior. They'll be anxious and worried about how honest they can really be.
By creating a two-way feedback loop as a regular part of your one-on-ones, you can understand where your team members stand with you. If there are grievances, they won't catch you by surprise at the end of the year. Problems and frustrations become things to iron out versus explosions to clean up after.
We take a deep dive into Two-Way Feedback in another article you can read here.
These are just a few of the frameworks that we've found useful and effective through our research and experience. We'd love to hear what works for you and your teams. Send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot us a comment on our socials.