HOW TO DEAL WITH BURNOUT
Burnout is when energy leaks out of an individual or a team. Burnout stems from a number of things including over commitment or continual miscommunication. It can lead to bitterness and offense. Its fruit can be toxic.
Causes of Burnout
- When the team hasn’t grown from the initial launch size.
- When there aren’t enough team members to cover all the services on a healthy rotation.
- When we have seasons of multiple responsibilities.
- When a team is continually pushed beyond its physical or emotional limits by a leader with irregular goals and short lead time.
- When we have long and frequent administrative meetings on top of serving on the team.
Teams function best when there’s rhythm – bursts of energy followed by restful periods. But no one can sustain serving at a maximum intensity for long periods of time.
Signs of Burnout
- People / responsibilities fall through the cracks
- Low team attendance
- Just doing the task without joy.
- Anxiety and stress possibly due to continual, unrealistic pace
- Interpersonal conflicts
- Poor communication/ Miscommunication
- No clear Vision, direction or goals
- People leave or underperform
- Resistance to change. “The way we’ve always done it”
- Time and energy wasted in unproductive, ineffective meetings
- Indecision due to fear of backlash
- Negative team culture
- Lack if unity due to power struggles for position
- Blaming, complaining, and gossiping (general negativity)
- Guests are overlooked, and not loved on
- Discontent with the Church or self
- ‘Us’ vs ‘them’ Mentality
When the example is weak, new team members follow that example. Sometimes there are signs of low quality serving that has gone on for too long, and the team has lost vision and focus. The result is, strong team members are not satisfied with the low quality and may ultimately leave the team.
Road to Recovery
- Identify the cause of the energy loss and address it immediately.
- Learn from the energy loss and regroup.
- Identify the Energizers and Drainers. Every team member is a source of energy, positive or negative.
Energizers spur themselves and others to higher heights. Drainers complain and resist change, using their negativity to drain the energy right out of the room. Are you facing issues with energy drainers or poor performance members on your team? Here are some questions to ask?
- Did I clearly communicate the expectations?
- Are these expectations reasonable and attainable?
- Has the individual received adequate training to execute the responsibilities effectively?
- Does the individual understand why it is important to handle the responsibilities correctly?
- Have I held this person accountable for their level of serving?
- Have I given appropriate and consistent responses / consequences for their serving?
- Have I empowered every leader/team member with the freedom to take initiative, to succeed?
- Am I aware of what’s going on in this person’s life that could be affecting things? Have I intentionally cared, asked questions, and prayed for them?
- It’s time to deal with any individual quickly and fairly because the longer low performance, energy draining individuals remain on the team, the more damaging it is.
Strengthening the Team
- Align everyone with the vision. What we do, why, and how we do it. Simplify and communicate the purpose and practical steps so that everyone is unified.
- Align everyone with the core values. Address anything that contradicts the character of Jesus and the core values of Lifehouse.
- Increase the energy. By adding new people, training, and releasing properly.
Dream Team success is found in its energy — sustained enthusiasm, passion, unity, and the personal growth of every individual.
When addressing conflict:
- Schedule a time to talk face-to-face. Begin the conversation with the positives and encouragement.
- Ask specific questions about life, work, relationships, and serving. Is there any fear or insecurity? What is prompting all the over commitments? Follow the 80/20 rule: listen 80% and talk 20% of the time. Search out the condition of the heart.
- State the concerns. It could be overcommitting, having a bad attitude, or being easily offended.
- Give a short personal example if it’s appropriate. Offer prayer and accountability, speaking the truth in love — what God says about the person (encouragement) and the situation.
- Set clear next steps. It may be scaling back in serving commitments, apologizing, joining the Freedom Course, or a combination.
- Ask if you may continue to follow up about the area of concern. (It’s always best if they give you permission to hold them accountable).
People should complete the Dream Team Training and the one-on-one interview before joining the team. Issues of life balance, family, and commitments should have been addressed in the interview and appropriate next steps given.
We can care for the leaders and team members by using this simple, three step approach:
- Start the conversation by asking how they are enjoying the team and if they have any feedback for you. Graciously thank them for serving and intentionally encourage them in a significant way before addressing the issue(s) at hand.
- Speak to the issue at hand. Communicate the specific expectations or requirements such as commitment, Lifehouse vision and values, logistics, or character.
- Ask if they are in agreement with these expectations, YES or NO. Give them an opportunity to respond. You are not trying to convince them to serve or stay on the team. Loving God should be the motivation for serving.
- If they respond with NO, due to a mismatch of skills and passion, then direct them to another Dream Team.
- If they respond with NO, they don’t want to address the issue or change attitude, encourage them to take a break for a season, or advise them to join a Connect Group, (if they haven’t already), or the Freedom Course.
- If they respond with YES, provide them with their next opportunity to serve on the team and ask if you can continue to hold them accountable to the issue(s) you discussed.
- If the inappropriate behavior continues after this conversation, have another one-on-one conversation to reinforce the previously-set expectations and boundaries. Make any clarifications and hold them accountable for what you observed.
- If they apologize and still want to serve, walk through the above three steps again. Offer another opportunity to serve.
- If they still can’t serve in compliance, ask them to take a break, and direct them to the Freedom Course.
No one is perfect! But it’s the leader’s role to correct and care for people by holding them accountable. These are leadership conversations and they help the individual, as well as the whole team. Always offer a clear path of restoration.
When people complete the Dream Team Training and the one-on-one interview before joining the team, issues of life balance, family, and commitments can be discussed in the interview. This will dictate how often they can serve on the roster.
How To Address Low Quality Serving
The Usher team has needed help for a while. The Leader was excited to have a new team member. But after serving with him for a couple of weeks, the leader noticed the new team member rarely smiles while serving. Though he stands at the hall entrance, waves his arms, and directs the guests, his facial expressions are sad and his words are usually negative. He attends the huddles but is disinterested and never opens up to anyone, including the leader.
- Would you let him continue serving at this level, hoping that over time he would just “get it”? Why?
- What does his body language communicate?
- How are other team members and guests impacted by his level of serving?
1. Have a one-on-one conversation with the team member.
- Pray before you meet with him/her.
- Begin the conversation with encouragement.
- Does he enjoy serving on the team?
- Has he made new friends?
- Is the team what he expected it to be?
- Did the Training fully prepare him to serve?
- Ask questions about: life, work, relationships, and serving. Is there anything causing the low quality service? Follow the 80/20 rule.
- State the concerns: inability to smile, speaks negatively, and gives the impression that he has a bad attitude towards others.
- Talk through personal experiences in these areas. Offer prayer and accountability, speaking the truth in love — what God says about him and this situation.
- Ask if you may continue to follow up about these issues. (Ask for permission to hold him accountable.)
2. Lay out clear expectations for serving on the team. Communicate the importance of body language — waves, smiles and facial expressions — in demonstrating love. Ask if he is able to serve at this level.
- If yes, remind him of the next opportunity to serve. Ask if you can continue to hold him accountable on these issues. Provide clear next steps for growth. Like changing his body language and the words he speaks, or change (repent) from any bad attitude.
- If not, you may possibly connect him to a more behind the scenes team, or a Connect Group (if he is not already attending), Alpha, Freedom Course, or a combination of these (depending on his response and circumstances).