Through this crisis, many of us are feeling exhausted. Many of us were exhausted before all of the major changes in our worlds. It is time we fight back against exhaustion, whiles still driving the results that we hope to achieve. It is possible to achieve it all, without doing it all!
It starts with talking about exhaustion with our bosses. I spend a ton of time in executive coaching sessions helping people practice having these difficult conversations with their boss. Yes, it’s intimidating to have to say, “I need help to manage the role you think I’m doing. I’m not doing well. I’m struggling. I’m exhausted.” Those are not easy things to say out loud, particularly to our managers, but sometimes they need to be said. When a boss hears what you’re saying and is made aware of your feelings, they usually open up and try to help solve the problem.
This feels risky, and I won’t deny that the risk is real. But would you rather fail while struggling, or fail by asking for support? Bosses don’t want to see their direct reports struggle, and they certainly don’t want to see the projects struggle, either. So, when asked to help, more often than not, they’ll step in and step up.
I’ve coached a few individuals who’ve asked for that conversation and whose bosses effectively dismissed them with, “Just dig in and make it happen.” Nobody wants to work for a boss that isn’t going to support them, and usually within six months they end up leaving.
Others have a boss who understands the problem and help save their employee from exhaustion and eventual resignation.
There’s a theory that the increase in employee job-hopping has been trending because the recruiting market is so strong, and a recruiter can steal people away with just a little bit more money. I have a counter-theory: I think more folks are leaving their jobs because they’re not getting the support they need. Rather than initiating a hard conversation, it’s easier to just walk out the door—with a little increase in salary as the cherry on top. And the job-hopping continues as individuals find themselves in the Exhausted Hero trap again at the new company. The grass is not always greener!
I know what some executives are thinking as they read this: “Are they really exhausted?” Exactly! There is a difference between being tired and being exhausted. It is comparable to what athletes experience. A long-distance runner may get tired mid-race, so they walk through the water station to catch their breath—a short rest that gives them a new burst of energy to overcome being tired and keep running. Then there is the long-distance runner who leans to the side and struggles to lift one foot in front of the other. They are chronically exhausted and it will take a major intervention for the individual to recover.
Companies experience team member turnover when their employees are looking for more support, more balance, and more resources to aid them in doing their job. If companies focused on rescuing Exhausted Heros, they could save countless dollars in having to replace them.