Although you might rarely hear your employees utter these words, if you pay attention, you’re likely to read them in their gestures, body language, and tone of voice. When people are burned out, this is often what they express nonverbally.
People who are otherwise reliable individuals start to slip. They miss deadlines. They forget about important details. They neglect delegating.
In short, their actions speak louder than words.
When you pay attention to the non-verbals, you will see these kinds of behaviors from people who are overly stretched. What can make it worse is when it spreads among teammates. Co-workers see the signs and they adopt defensive behavior to avoid the same thing happening to them.
What’s a leader to do?
Chastising them for what they’re not doing will only make it worse. Yes, you’re frustrated, but it’s your job to hold that frustration in check.
Instead, take a productive approach. What can you do to alleviate the pressure and provide some indication that things will improve? You may need to realign department priorities to prevent your staff from crashing and burning.
Get some help. You may not have the resources to immediately hire someone new, but you can bring in a temporary worker or even someone from another department to help.
Determine if this is a long term challenge or a short term problem and adjust your staffing accordingly.
Finally, be empathetic. Often, knowing that you understand their stress can reduce tension. Empathy doesn’t cost a dime and a little bit goes a long way.