Beware of Burnout!

Beware of Burnout!

#burnout #burnoutrecovery #resilience #teamcommunication #responsibleleadership

“I feel empty and exhausted.”

“I love my job and I want to perform really well, I just feel that I am using up my last resources. What shall I do?”

Signs and impact of the burnout syndrome:

When clients arrive to the first session throwing in bluntly some of the above statements about their current condition, I quickly infer that we’ll have some work to do there. Their face is grey and their eyes are hollow, and they can hardly force out some polite smile, let alone any genuine expression of a real emotion.

A great problem with a mature, full-blown burnout is the sorrowful loss of productivity and the waste of the brilliance, wit and emotional richness of talents. All the excellent contribution that these people could give to their environment get blocked by their mental and emotional state of being burned out. Instead of high performing, motivating and energizing leaders, you get passive followers in robotic function mode or rather even worse, outright embittered obstructors that stand in the way of progress.

The WHO categorized burnout as a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

There are 3 components of burnout:

· exhaustion – immense emotional, physical, and/or cognitive fatigue

· cynicism – low levels of job engagement, feelings of negativism

· inefficacy – lack of productivity and feelings of incompetence

Burnout can strike when you consistently have more work than you’re able to get done. But it can also happen when you feel a lack of control over your professional fate, when your personal values don’t match up with those of your company, or when you aren’t being recognized for your work.

While there is no doubt that the best response to burnout is to focus on fixing the workplace through improving workflow efficiency, teamwork and leadership rather than focusing on fixing the worker, I believe there is still some room for improvement on the individual level too. And there lies what we can start working on within a coaching session. The rest of it, namely the working environment hand in hand with the presumably toxic character of the company culture remain a massive organizational issue.

Indeed, truly assessing our own mental-, physical- and emotional condition is already a challenge. During the period running up to the burnout collapse one could easily be oblivious to the build-up of systemic risk. Though everything still seems to be all right, we feel that there are a bit too many things we have to deal with. We are inclined to entice ourselves and diminish the already emerged symptoms, which may also be partly due to just being passionate about our job and wanting to be recognized as a high-performer. Small mental or bodily signs of exhaustion get neglected thanks to the overload of tasks and responsibilities.

What a leader can do?

As a leader, there is a lot you can do about helping your team prevent, detect and alleviate burnout once it has surfaced. Stop for a moment and ask your colleagues the following questions referring to the previous couple of weeks:

  • How overwhelmed did you feel, on a scale of 1 to 5? (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
  • How many days did you work later than you should?
  • How many days did you answer emails after hours?
  • How effective and productive did you feel, on a scale of 1 to 5?
  • How much fun did you have, on a scale of 1 to 5?

Should someone answer higher than 3 on the first three questions, and lower than 3 on the last two ones, there’s a risk for them for burning out or already being burnt out. What to do then?

First, have one-on-one talks with those who score around the risk zone and ask for more context to understand better what led to their condition.

Secondly, review your meetings!

  • Cancel those that are not essential.
  • Check if you can shorten the ones that remained, say from 60 to 45 min.
  • Decide in advance if it is necessary to turn on cameras. Remember, being on camera is definitely more exhausting than just leaning back in your chair or taking a walk while talking.
  • Use the meeting as a venue for appreciation and recognition of your colleagues. Search for the moments when you can do this in an unforced, natural, sincere way.

Thirdly, try out the exercise of setting small goals: tell your team about one small goal you’re hoping to accomplish during the week. Then list three barriers that might prevent you from moving forward, asking your team for advice on how to overcome them. Invite your employees to do the same: What’s one small goal they want to accomplish this week, and what are the barriers standing in the way? By keeping this an open (and voluntary) conversation within a safe space, the team can collectively solve each other’s problems and support each other. You can also make this activity a regular part of the weekly meeting.

Fourthly, you can also tackle the problem of team burnout as a group. Bring up the topic and discuss it together with your team. Sharing personal stories and experiences of what worked or what didn’t work for someone may add to team cohesion and strengthen belonging.

But how can you help your team with burnout when you’re also burned out?

Lead with example and answer honestly the above questions also yourself. Evaluate your results. Start practising with the below exercises and see how they improved your condition:

  • Making effort to balance passion for work and need for rest, and monitoring whether you got obsessed with overachievement;
  • Becoming aware of what activities can refill your mental and physical reserves and recurring to them regularly;
  • Determining whether your organization is moving forward in a direction that aligns with your core values;
  • Building a sense of meaningfulness into your everyday life through setting up small goals and tracking your progress;
  • Focusing on what is in your control.

And finally remember that stress in itself is not necessarily bad for you. In small doses it makes you grow and enhances your performance. The danger is when you are under chronic stress without recovery. You can stay resilient and endure hardship if you know how to recharge and replenish yourself.

Self-knowledge and Skills Gap Analysis: What is It and Why Should You Care?

Self-knowledge and Skills Gap Analysis: What is It and Why Should You Care?

#jobsearchstrategy #careercoaching #skillsgaps #goalsetting #strengths

Well, are you on the way to land your dream job?

Or are you searching for your first job but not quite sure what the best way would be to do it?

Or are you planning to change your career and start a brand new activity after several years poured into something very different?

Or are you feeling stuck after sending your CV to billions of places and hardly getting any answers from them?

To succeed on the very competitive job market today, you need to be both proactive and inventive with your overall search and application strategy. I show you four points that you should be clear about if you aim to outstrip the above aching questions:

1. Be clear about your goals!

Of course it is not gonna be enough for you to say, “I wanna get a good job somewhere in the near future”. You need to be far more specific about what you would like to achieve in your professional life. Go close to your dreams and imagine in what workplace, in what role you would feel yourself really at home and why is it so! The anwers you give here are going to be your torchlight all along the road later on as well.

2. Assess thouroughly the requirements of your target job!

Once you defined your target companies and target roles, like it or not, you should turn into a savvy salesperson ready to satisfy their customer’s need.

First, you want to understand what your future employer really needs to acquire. Your main source of information here is the job advert itself with the description of tasks and expectations.

However, why not go the extra mile and collect as much information about the wider context of the specific job as you can? Such as:

  • What is the company culture there?
  • What are their main challenges these days?
  • What counts as success and what about the failures there?

All of them are useful pieces to integrate within your “sales strategy”. After all, you’ll want to offer your whole manpower in terms of knowledge, professional experiences, skillset, ambition and so forth to your “customer”, that is to your employer, so be a foregoer!  

To get this type of information, contact your friends who already work in the company, read the company website and blog posts, and/or check their social media and the press about them – in other words: do your own thorough research on your target company! 

3. Make a list of your own strenghts!

Once you understood what your target is and what their needs are, you can put yourself more easily into the shoes of an ideal candidate. And here comes the second part of your sales activity: pull out your assets that match the expectations of your “client”.

Answer the following questions before any job interview:

  • Why would they be satisfied upon hiring me into that specific position?
  • What added value could I contribute to their success?

Reflect upon those of your unique capabilites that justify well your application to the job. If you don’t find any or at least not sufficient, then either you should re-align your goals or you didn’t seek hard enough ?. 

4. Do your skills gap analysis!

This is the hardest part. An honest look into the mirror, which you can’t miss and where it’s really not worth cheating yourself. Draw a simple table with the job requirements in the beginning of each row and with your various assessments on top of the columns, and fill it out mercilessly:

Most of the times you’ll have to estimate the importance and the required levels of the skills, since you won’t find this information in the job description. Never mind, make your guess! Your overall understanding of the needs of the employer (see in point 2!) will guide you in assessing the relative weight of each requirement.

Also, in lack of a specific certificate or test result, how could you possibly know what your actual level is of a certain skill? Now, think of an example from your previous experiences when you demonstrated that skill. What happened there? How did you solve that situation? How that specific skill played a role in the overall case? As soon as you can relate to a concrete example, you can also associate an estimated score to it.

Assess also what it takes for you to close a gap and whether you are willing to make that sacrifice.

Finally, define some very broken down action steps to implement!

Congratulations! You’ve done a good job so far!

Conflict management hacks for startups, entrepreneurs and the like

Conflict management hacks for startups, entrepreneurs and the like

#leadershipandimpact #team #startups

Why does it matter?

How could it be that my co-founder / my partner / my CTO / CMO / COO, with whom I launched this company back in the days and got along so well, would turn 180 degree now and behave in a way that seems to be an outright nonsense? When just a few weeks, or rather a few days ago everything was all right. What happened to them, who has always been a person of good sense!


How can someone work like this? I’ve asked this so many times and they are still not doing it! For how long am I supposed to beg them?”

Do these questions sound familiar to you? If yes, then read on to find out what to do in such cases. If no, read on the same way, as sooner or later you’ll surely face some kind of similar conflict situation in your work. Clashes of views stay with us inevitably, so instead of avoiding them at any cost or acting them out, it is much wiser to address them properly. Working together is not easy, especially when you are under stress and pressure. Which means basically all the time.

If you want to build a company, you have to build a team too. Though you can have an idea about many things, there’s no chance that you are good at everything. Therefore you’ll need other people on board to perform well in different areas. This holds true for technological firms as well, because even though robots and algorithms take on more and more tasks, hardcore strategic decisions still await flesh and blood real leaders. And to lead the team successfully you’ll have to resolve successfully people’s issues and conflicts too.

As a leader you set the tone. Your leadership style and overall behavior has an enormous impact on how people in your company will behave and communicate with each other and with other stakeholders too. Your everyday examples of resolving a conflict, raising an issue, giving feedback and so forth shape much of what your company culture is getting to be. Build your culture, shape your communication consciously and grow your community from the very start!

Where do conflicts come from?

In a relationship that lasts longer than a day, it is absolutely part of the game that dissents pop up. They just emerge out of the differences in personality, communication style, attitudes, interests, opinions, past experiences. However these initial tiny bits of differences can rapidly grow bigger and can easily get projected into further territories as well, where normally peace and calmness would prevail. After a certain amount of overflow of emotions, there’s no stopping any longer: you get into fight even over the most irrelevant things, you might have seemingly unmotivated anger bursts or your communication style might suddenly turn to be all but aggressive or contrarily, irritatingly over-rationalizing. At this point you may reasonably and rightly ask: Is there a way out of this at all? Or would it better to part our ways as soon as possible?

The context for such desperate questions could be a marriage, a workplace scene between colleagues, a discussion between best friends or family members or anywhere else between people who work closely with others.

What happens in a conflict?

When collaboration becomes hindered in multiple ways, usually the relationship too gets injured to some extent.

Initially, open communication remains fair between the parties, though starting to become somewhat detached. Meanwhile unspoken words get accumulated deep down at the back of the minds. The invisible part of the psychological iceberg, the attitudes, emotions, values, needs, wishes, self-respect are all coming into action and demand more and more space and attention for themselves. Struggling to cope with the unfolding complexity of your personal drama, you start relying on what seems to be still solid and longstanding: the good old stereotypes, perhaps fortified by some prejudices too, may offer a much desired loophole.

Later on, when things get escalated, you are not able to speak authentically about your true feelings and thoughts any longer, because they have grown to be completely unacceptable and unspeakable by now. A seemingly insuperable gap has been erected between you and your counterpart. As a result, you need some quick and effective replacement, for which you are ready to pay even a high price: your self expression gets distorted and your previously direct and transparent communication is giving way to intricate games. You either over-emphasize rational thinking, restricting all of what you have to say to mere facts and numbers, or over-react emotionally whatever surrounds you. Either way leads both of you merely to remain stuck in an ugly stalemate.

How to combat dead ends?

So here below you can find some tips and practices for how to resolve conflicts. You can take them away and begin implementing today. Don’t be discouraged if something does not come through for the first time. Stop for a second, observe what has happened and try once again, now a little bit differently!

5 hacks to handle conflicts in a startup

Hack #1                 Not so fast!

You don’t have to start right away with breaking up upon the first difficulty within the relationship. Long term bonds form along big storms. After all, even if you choose to step forward quickly from one relationship full of conflicts and don’t even look back, there’s a fair chance that another similar one is waiting you at the next corner, which will also cry for some kind of resolution within a short while. So why not learn the mastery now as you are in the middle of a „perfect” mess and enjoy the benefits of learning on the long term?

Hack #2                Be honest to yourself and don’t be afraid of looking into the mirror!

Let’s start with the bad news to get over it quickly: if you aim to break out from an ever more toxic environment of constant conflict, you need to step out from your safe comfort zoneGet familiar with the hidden layers of your own iceberg, and get ready to face both nice and not so nice things too! The good news is that if you get through this, you’ll have far better chances to find constructive arrangement solutions for fixing the nagging problem.  

There’s much at stake about timing: the sooner you become aware of the emergence of a conflict situation, and your subsequent hidden assumptions, emotions and thoughts related to it, the better the chances are that you can come up with constructive responses. Until your relationship blows up entirely, you always have some room left for clarification with your partner.

Hack #3                Be aware of your boundaries!

You need to know where your boundaries lie and how flexible they can be. How far can you move before you start feeling unbearable self-sacrifice. Or how willing are you to experiment with trying out new things that perhaps you have never tried before? Approach your problem as a unique opportunity for self-reflection and personal development. Use the tormenting conflict to look at yourself like you’ve never had the chance to do in normal life. For example my own most recent discovery about myself is that I have to pay much attention to my needs of independence in organizing work priorities. Now that I am aware of it, I can communicate it to others when it is necessary.

Hack #4                Act before it is too late!

Once you have become aware of the „maze” you got into, start using the simple techniques of “Clean Language”: active listening, direct communication and clear questions. The goal is to reach shared understanding and focus.  

Use these questions and self-statements for difficult conversations:

o  Here is how I feel.

o  Here is what I need.

o  What do you need?

o  What would you like to have happen?

o  What obstacles stand in our way?

o  What options do we have? What else?

You can use one or two or a couple of these questions, you can combine them in the way it seems the most appropriate to you, or you can decide which one should come first, second, or third. The point is that you get into the logic of the Clean Language mindset. When asking a question from your partner, be genuinely curious about the answer and put aside your own assumptions and judgements. Clean Language questions help you acquire buy-in of your counterpart. You’ll be surprised how fast a completely new range of potential solutions may emerge from establishing an outcome-oriented collaboration.

Hack #5                 Keep in mind the cause – your startup!

While getting fully entangled in the disagreement between the parties, don’t forget that besides the persons there is also a further key player in the story: it is the abstract “Cause”your startup itself, the main purpose, which has given reason for the whole plot. Bring it to the forefront and  put yourself into its perspective too. You can even play a little bit talking on its behalf, telling things like: „What will happen to me while you are tearing each other’s hair?” or „What is the best way for me to grow and develop to scale up in the future?”

Stay truly open to all of the scenarios until they are definitely excluded from the range of possibilities. Whatever happens later on, it is paramount to draw the right conclusions and learn the lessons.

Make a checklist and go through it carefully: have I done everything I wanted to remedy this partnership? Is there anything more that I could and intend to do? Can we continue working together with my partner?

Regardless of what the response will be, now you can pat your own shoulder because you’ve done a great job. I wish you a wonderful practicing along your journey!

This content was originally published on the website of CEU Innovations Lab in February 2021.

Giving feedback well

Giving feedback well

#feedbackmatters #leadership

Have you ever thought of how much is at stake in our daily communication instances? I would say a lot.

What else if not exactly those tiny pieces of human interaction that impact so powerfully the quality of our relationships? Let alone when you have some sort of criticism in your pocket that you want to share with your counterpart! So it matters a lot how you give feedback to others.

But here is the problem: giving feedback well is still a challenge for most of us. Typically we are either very indirect/soft or too direct in our communication. How can we improve then?

Watch this great video in which LeeAnn Renninger shares a 4-part formula that you can use to say any difficult message well:

Then start practicing! Don’t get discouraged if your feedback giving initially is still not excellent. Go ahead, understand what went wrong and do it better next time!

So the 4 formulas are the following:

1. The micro-yes: It would be something like this: “Do you have five minutes to talk about how that last conversation went” or “I have some ideas for how we can improve things. Can I share them with you?” When you are soliciting a micro-yes statement, you are creating a buy-in situation for your feedback.

2. Data point: Here, you should name specifically what you saw or heard, and cut out any words that aren’t objective such as “You could be more proactive.”

3. Show impact: “Because I didn’t get the message, I was blocked on my work and couldn’t move forward”.

4. End on a question: “Well, how do you see it?” or “This is what I’m thinking we should do, but what are your thoughts on it?” This creates commitment rather than just compliance. It makes the conversation no longer be a monologue, but rather a joint problem-solving situation.

The mindset of a winner

The mindset of a winner

#selfdetermination #ambition #loveofthegame #kobebryant #mambamentality

Wondering how peak performance can be reached? Wanting to know more about self determination, constant focus and passion? Then watch this short film, The Mindset of A Winner. A truly fascinating 11-minute interview with the all-time legend about his approach to life. You can read more about his visions in his book: Mamba Mentality.

Everything was done to try to learn how to become a better basketball player. Everything. And so when you have that point of view then literally the world becomes your library to help you become better at your craft … because you know what you are looking for … You kind of gotta get over yourself. It’s not about you, man. Get over yourself. Like you are worried how people may perceive you and the like … Get over yourself. Right. And then after, it’s OK.

A tragic news, which made me remember even more to live every moment of my life as a heavenly blessing: Kobe Bryant, the legendary basketball player of Los Angeles Lakers died in a helicopter accident on 26 January 2020 at the age of 42. The world lost this extraordinary man, but what he left to humankind will stay with us for ever: his inspiring mentality and uplifting teachings may resonate in any moment of everyday life. Be a professional sportsman, a successful business person, a responsible mother, an ambitious community builder or anyone else who passionately strives to achieve their goals, Kobe’s teaching and example remains a genuine drift for all of us.


Experience Coaching

#experience coaching #coaching mindset #intercultural language #human interaction #international coach federation

A truly inspiring story of how successful leadership became possible thanks to a fruitful coaching process recorded by International Coach Federation within the framework of the “ExperienceCoaching” project. Watch this short testimonial of a woman who talks about how coaching helped her create new structure in life after moving to Qatar, and how she created a new vision for her team and became a true and motivating leader of 25 people coming from very different cultural backgrounds.

I believe that the greatest challenges that we are facing today in our societies, in politics, in global economy are resolvable only through stepping into a higher level of collaboration between us as individuals, as teams, or even as much larger groups of people like nations. We know that humans are able to connect to each other no matter what colour, cultural background, educational level they are coming from. It’s just the common language that they have to find to communicate with each other. I love this story because watching it you’ll instantly get the message that there is a genuinely international language which does not know borders between people. And that language is called coaching mindset. It offers a precious new opportunity to define and to practice in real life the special type of collaboration which humankind so desperately needs in today’s world.

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