Source : www.ehorus.com
Although not as serious as burnout, the effects of “brownout” on a person’s work is the same. Brownout is used to describe when workers become disengaged and demotivated in their job, which impacts behaviour and performance at work – eventually affecting their personal lives.
And it’s not likely to be a passing fad. In a survey of 1,000 executives by US coaching firm Corporate Balance Concepts, an estimated 5% suffered from burnout while 40% suffered from brownout. So, if you are feeling demotivation and disengaged at work, what can you do about it?
Brownout is when employees become disengaged and demotivated in their job
Take time to reflect
Recognise the triggers of potential brownout so you can proactively take action to address any risks. Triggers can be changes occurring across your organisation or market, internal restructuring, downsizing, or the slow drip of a non-hiring policy that can lead to you and your team picking up other people’s work.
When you spot these triggers, consider what this means so you can plan accordingly. For example, if it’s likely to be extra workload, what type of work is it and can it be turned into a challenge? Looking at the various traits within the team, who may welcome this opportunity?
Also, work with a HR specialist, coach or mentor to identify what is missing in your own role and then use the same coaching techniques with individuals in your team.
Often we are so caught up in the immediacy of the change that we don’t recognise brownout until it’s too late and we start to become less sociable and more withdrawn. Staying alert to potential causes of brownout will help you to take preventative steps.
Don’t be a victim
If you suspect any early signs of brownout then take action immediately to stop it from consuming you or your team.
Apply a positive frame of mind and reflect on how brownout has affected performance and engagement. Then work out what you want and how to ask for it by considering what will stimulate, stretch and re-engage you and those in your team. Look at the organisation, its environment and community for ways to change roles, responsibilities or workload for the better.
Think broadly at this stage about what experience you want and link this to roles you want and those available that provide a new stretch or challenge and then work with people who help you manage and progress your career, such as your manager or mentor, to help you achieve your goals. You can then do the same with individuals in your team.
Make sure you explain to sponsors what challenges you are seeking and why; clarifying your priorities and demonstrating how this change will deliver value to you and the business. Some organisations deliberately move their top talent around every 12-18 months to provide them with a new challenge, to learn new skills and behaviours and to develop a broader understanding of the business. This also helps to avoid brownout, although this is not possible or desirable at all levels of an organisation.
Look at your options
If you’re seeing triggers that could lead to brownout then use your contacts – colleagues, manager, friends and family – to seek out others that have been in a similar situation. Use their experience and advice to draw up a list of options to keep your role ignited. But don’t just seek solutions from within. Liaise with your external network so you can compare experiences in different contexts – it may even open your eyes to ways you could add value to another organisation.
Some people use an external project, such as coaching others in a smaller, local business or supporting charity work, so they can apply their learning in a new context. This can have a positive impact on them and their place of work as transferring your knowledge can be just as stimulating as learning new skills.
Build your adaptability
Fending off brownout is also about mindset. Being comfortable with doubtfulness or ambiguity is just as key as developing a positive inner dialogue so that when you feel your engagement slipping you can reframe to a more positive view. Ambiguity is most commonly found in flat organisational structures – where there are few or no levels of middle management between staff and executives – which are often the result of downsizing. When this happens often the company is trying to do more or the same with less, and this creates uncertainty around new roles and responsibilities and priorities as the organisation adjusts to this change.
Paying attention to your energy and health is also important. In companies where brownout is prevalent, people rarely have downtime because of the mobile world we live in. Therefore, know how you get your physical and emotional energy levels up through exercise or taking a few minutes to reflect out of the office. Intentionally use a range of methods to manage this effectively.
By : David Robertson i