Sometimes I hate it when I’m right. In an article I wrote a number of years ago, I opined that ”Many owners, executives, managers, and supervisors are spent.” I meant this in the psychological and emotional sense. It has been my belief for a few years prior to that comment that one of the rather unspoken effects of the Great Recession was the toll it had taken on the people that were still working, most of whom were being forced to do more with much less. I wish I was wrong but, even today in the midst of many experts might label as a robust economy, I see evidence of this with many of my clients as well as my own personal consumer experiences every day.
Further lending credence to my theory, when I share this opinion I frequently get nods of agreement from all levels of the organization chart. I also was sent the following article: New Data Shows Depth Of Employee Discontent. The piece quoted a study which illustrates that over 75% of workers are disengaged from their employers. So three out of every four employees are so worn out that they are, at best, going through the motions and probably, frankly, just don’t really give a crap anymore! What does that say about productivity?!
It seems we may be at the beginning of understanding the problem. More important, what are we going to do about it? Here are a few ideas:
- Accept it. It’s impossible to fix a problem that you don’t believe you have. Coming to the realization that you and your staff are spent may seem defeatist at first. However, realizing it will lead to possible solutions.
- Take a breath. Sometimes simply being in the moment — instead of sending an e-mail on one project, speaking to someone on the phone about another, and thinking about what you’re going to say at the meeting coming up in fifteen minutes — is all that’s needed to create a little sanity.
- Focus. Ask yourself, “What is the most important task I need to accomplish today?” Sometimes all you really need is a to-do list of one. At one point a few years ago I finally took my first real vacation in nearly a decade. During the trip I made a deliberate attempt to avoid the phone and e-mail and found that things aren’t really as urgent as I thought. After getting away from everything for a short time, you realize that there are just a few of the urgencies in life that are truly important and deserve your top attention. Focus on those first and you may find many of the little things just naturally fall into place.
- Don’t be short. I’m not referring to height, so don’t use this as an excuse to run out and buy shoes with higher heels. When we’re spent, it’s easy to just bark an order or response. One of the worst tools to use in these scenarios is e-mail. This was a lesson I learned the hard way a number of years ago. Just this week I witnessed two examples where “short” e-mails led to adverse reactions and unnecessary negative situations.
- Pick up the phone or, better yet, get up from the desk and communicate in person. It is said that the cure to depression begins with engagement. I believe that engagement through proper communication is also a source of increased energy and one remedy to being spent.
Feeling spent applies to executives, managers, entrepreneurs, employees, and probably even pets! The solution lies in making a human connection and realizing that despite the fact that we may still have to do more with less, let’s make more of our time and our interaction with others.