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MBA at 25, CEO at 35, burnt out at 45, this is a perceived example oI a high Ilying corporate
manager. II that were true then the manager should be Irustrated, exhausted, stressed and Iinally,
be used up by 45. II that be so, burnout would be a nightmare in the liIe oI a CEO. But is it true?
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a motivational problem. A person who Ieels burnout is, in Iact, Irustrated, dispirited,
and depressed. It happens when a person`s body or mind can no longer cope with overwhelming
high demands. This usually happens when the person is Irequently being called upon to solve
diIIicult problems. This intensiIies when the given resources are inadequate. It also happens
when the person has high ambitions but is unable to achieve them. Common burnout causes are:
O An overwhelming workload that could be due to insuIIicient time management skills,
especially lack oI planning, prioritizing, or delegation skills.
O ard work with no clear goals. You work hard and hard, but no matter how long you
keep at it, you cannot see any progress.
O !owerlessness to change something important to you. Something that you are very much
emotionally attached to, but that is at the same time beyond your control.
O orcing on yourselI the impossible to happen. or example, solving problems without
having the necessary resources.
O A conIlict between your personal values and the values oI the company you are working
Ior. You don`t believe in or disagree with what you are doing, but you Ieel the
circumstances Iorce you to keep doing it anyway.
O itting the invisible ceiling. No matter how good or competent you become, there is
hardly any chance oI recognition or promotional opportunities.
owever, the real damage oI burnout comes Irom a sense oI deep disillusionment. Many
managers get their sense oI identity and meaning Irom their work. They start their career with
high ideals or high ambitions and may have Iollowed these with passion. They are hard working,
eIIective, Iull oI initiative, energetic and selIless. They are usually doing much more than they
are contracted to do, working much longer hours. The problem comes when things become too
much. !erhaps exhaustion sets in because people have been working too hard Ior too long.
!erhaps perIormance begins to slip because oI this. !erhaps the problem being solved is too
great, and the resources available are too meager. !erhaps supportive mentors move on and are
replaced by people who do not appreciate the heroic job that is being done, or do not subscribe to
the ideals that drive perIormance. !erhaps co-workers or team members make just too many
emotional demands, or people being served prove to be ungrateIul and diIIicult. This is when
BURNOUT begins to set in.
Burnout typically develops gradually, in stages, Irom light Iorm to a heavier and heavier one.
Burnout symptoms can be oI emotional or physical nature. The physical symptoms include
various degrees oI exhaustion. Emotional symptoms surIace in the Iorm oI disillusionment.
!hysical symptoms include headaches, sleep problems, gastrointestinal problems, chronic
Iatigue, muscle aches, high blood pressure, Irequent colds and sudden weight loss or gain.
Burnout symptoms oI emotional nature include prolonged periods oI apathy, Irustration,
depression, anger, negative or cynical attitude, being unexcited about liIe, inclinations to high
risk behaviors, high emotional volatility and high irritability.
!eople suIIering Irom burnout seem to progressively Ieel a lack oI personal accomplishment in
their work. Burnout can turn productive employees into emotional zombies and destroy careers.
Get Fired-U5 Again
Burnout is a normal syndrome that may be Ielt by a manger at one or the other point oI his
career. It need not indicate the end oI the liIe but should be taken as any other problem. The only
thing the manager has to do is to rekindle the Iire in him. At Iirst, in-depth assessment is very
important, so as to Iind out the Iactors which have contributed to burnout. Many burnt out people
pose a question, 'Is it necessary to leave my current position or company in order to overcome
the burnout syndrome?¨ It depends on the environment. II you Iind that the conditions will never
improve, better give yourselI the pink slip. Or iI, the workload is the issue, taking a reassignment
to another less demanding job within the same organization may seem like an attractive option.
Another way to cope is to try climb up into higher management to escape the chaos oI lower
level decision making. Also, don`t Iall into selI-blame. This just causes more deIeat. Look
around and determine what can and what cannot be changed. Know the diIIerence and take
action towards changing the job stressors that have a good chance oI success.
Add richness to your liIe. AIter all, Ior you, a job may just be a job. II you`re looking Ior
meaning, you may have to make your mark beyond traditional institutional walls. Get involved
in community work. Most companies have community service projects such as abitat Ior
umanity. Beyond the corporate conIines there are ways to plug in and make impact.
The most immediate 'quick Iix¨ Ior burnout is to schedule a vacation as soon as possible and go
away Ior at least a week. Two weeks is better iI you can manage it. You need to get away Irom
all the stressIul pressures around you, and you need to relax in a peaceIul setting where your
responsibilities are to rest and take care oI yourselI.
You can take medical help also. Many a people preIer psychiatrics` help, but there are other
ways also oI getting relieI Irom burnout.
o Not Burnout
owever, it is best to avoid burnout than taking measure once it overwhelms you. Burnout is
preventable provided you appreciate that 'heat¨ in the Iorm oI enthusiasm Ior a job is good but
too much or prolonged heat can result in scorched liIe. Some practical steps can be taken iI you
Iind yourselI burning out. irst, it is important to understand why you are Ieeling burnt out. You
have to understand Irom where the pressure is coming Irom. Keep a note oI what is causing
stress in your routine work and try avoiding it.
When you Iind excessive workload is the problem then Iollow a three step strategy. irst, assess
the workload and see iI you cut away low-yield work. Review your time management and
delegate tasks to other people where you can. Second, consider whether you are being too
accommodative. II this is so be assertiveness. Remember that you will have to say 'no¨ at some
stage otherwise your commitments will get bigger and bigger. Third, understand that it is not
possible to do all jobs.
Those managers who manage their work and Iellow managers and workers never Ieel burnout.
Jack Welch is right when he said that he has never seen anyone dying because oI overwork. In
Iact, as the Iormer !resident oI India said: Work is the greatest elixir oI liIe.

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