Wendy Hanson 0:24
We are facing very challenging times. And all of us, we act differently about stress. Some people know how to keep things in perspective. Others bring it in internally, and then we get burnt out. We also as managers need to watch out for a team and know what are the signs of burnout. My guest today, Janice Lichtman, we had a great talk about burnout and what we can do to be able to help people or help ourselves get to the other side. So thanks for joining us today. Janice Lipton is on a mission to help leaders and teams banish burnout in their organizations so their employees can come to work, healthy, happy and ready to work. As a certified virtual presenter and Sherm recertification provider, Janice is passionate about helping teams get engaged with becoming healthy well and stress free, boy and don't we need that now. What makes Janice unique is her 20 years of technology recruiting experience, 10 years in it, the study of psychology and experiencing changing with her own behavior. her new book, banish burnout toolkit helps you and your teams manage stress to prevent burnout from the inside out. The result long lasting behavior change. I'm so happy that we met through our involvement with the National Speakers Association. And we've gotten to hang out for a number of years. So I know Janice very well, and I'm so delighted to have you on the show. Janice, welcome.
Janice Litvin 2:05
Thank you so much, Wendy,
I'm so happy to be here. Now, stress is really something that keeps coming up and burnout. And that's why I thought you would be an excellent guest for all of our managers and leaders out there. Because we know that we're going into a period that this is COVID is not going to be over right away. We're going to be working virtually and remotely for quite a while. And we've got to figure out what are some of those things that we can do to help eliminate stress? So Janet, how has the COVID you know, experience exacerbated employee stress? What's your take on that?
You know, it's interesting, windy, because people were already very stressed, with our society becoming an always on kind of lifestyle. And then this crisis hit. And most companies and people were not really prepared. So it was a big shock to our systems. And I don't I'm not a big on stats, but I'll give you one quick stat. Gallup estimated that up to 66%, two thirds of workers were approaching burnout, which meant they were looking for jobs on company time, they were complaining, they were calling in sick, maybe they really weren't getting sick. And so added to all of that this new experience of oh my gosh, we're all staying home working with our children worrying, are we going to have a job? How about my family in New York, that might be sick, if they're in a nursing home and all these extra stressors, fear of the unknown, caused all these extra stressors. And so and then the whole idea of quarantining, not being able to get out, and the children having to stay home, you know, it didn't occur to me until after I started talking to workers who had children at home, how stressed out the children are, but they express it differently. They are not the few sports, they're doing some online zoo, sports camps were set up, some of them weren't really participating, not really into it. Children lashing out at home saying I hate my life, children who are straight A's students with lots of friends, and have a wonderful family life, complaining about their life after being such a happy go lucky kid, it occurred to me that we have to really be careful about the children.
I've seen that also, you know, some people are handling that so well. They have kids climbing on their lap and they're still paying attention. But it's really tough. And I think that's a that's a whole nother conversation about how do we help children right now that are going through this that usually the resilience is there, but you know, we got to be able to look at the signs, and even for, for any of us for adults. You know, people will say Ah, I'm burned out But how do you really know, you're burned out? You know, is it just because it shouldn't just be a throwaway line? Because these days, we need to take that seriously. So hi, you're burnt out?
Well, I'm glad you asked. One way, you know, is suddenly, just like with the children, you and adult are lashing out you might be. So this happened to me actually. And as you know, from knowing me for several years, that I'm a pretty upbeat, happy person. And I was already working from home, my husband and son, were already working from home. So we already were having a remote work life. And we were taking walks we were getting out, we actually drove by a friend's house and way from the car, to their front door to say, Hey, how you doing, and they laid out a big blanket outside, we sat outside because we were so desperate for some human connection other than ourselves. And some of the indicators are that you're just not yourself. You starting to get overly emotional overreacting snapping at people you care about and love those around you, of course, and other there are other physiological signs of burnout, including headaches, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome is all these kinds of physiological responses to stress and burnout. But the number one way to tell if somebody is burning out is their behavior.
I would assume sometimes we don't even see it ourselves. And exactly, to look for that. Team members to find they and and if you if you think you have some people on your team that are getting burnt out, how do you approach that in a delicate way? Because that can feel a little insulting. If somebody says, you know, are you getting burnt out? Like, how do you approach that? What's your experience with that?
Well, my experience with that is the following. If a manager sees the behavior that I've talked about, the person is overreacting. They're not as productive as they used to be. They're all these little signs, just the way they're keeping their camera off during the group zoom meetings during COVID. It's up to the manager privately to take them aside. And I hate the expression in an email, we need to talk. That's always a sign there's a problem. And that just makes the person nervous. How about I'd like to I'm having a, I'm having a chicken meeting with everybody. Could you meet with me Monday at 10? That way, the person doesn't feel threatened going into the meeting? And then the person actually lovingly saying, How are you doing? I know how stressful The COVID is, I know your children, Sandy and Susie, must be so stressed out not being able to go to soccer practice and see their friends. How's it going? So coming at coming at it from a true loving, concerned friend? And then if the person sort of slips up? Well, I'm doing the best I can. It's okay. You know, some people don't want to admit there's a problem, then the manager saying, Well, I'm noticing that you're not turning your camera on during zoom meetings a lot. And that you're not as participatory as you normally were. Because you're such a normally happy person. And here's the kicker, I noticed that your productivity is suffering, and you're at what's going on with you, it seems like is impacting the team? What do you think of that? Give them a chance to respond? And then say, Would you like some helpful resources we have? EAP? Do you feel like you need to take a couple weeks off? I won't charge it against your vacation time? Do you think you need some time to care for your parents long distance and call their doctors? Or do you need to spend more time going to the park with your children? What do you need? What can I do to help you? Because then the person feels cared for and loved? Yeah.
Can I break that down into a few pieces? Because please, I have I have a few perspectives on that. Number one, I love that you as a manager playing that role knew the names of the children. Because I think we go into this it's actually a question that's on our 360. You know, do you do know, the people that you work with? Do you know, the people close the family members or friends that are closest to them? Because oftentimes people feel like, wow, that's too personal. You know, I I shouldn't know that. I think that's right. Important. And then rather than this would be my perspective, rather than make a statement, I think that you know, your productivity is suffering. Like if somebody said that to me, I might just like whoa, you know, what's going on, you know, for myself and kind of freeze up if you rather than that to say, Have you noticed anything about your productivity? You know, it Yes. And then that and then you kind of went to are you taking care of your parents like I would might save that for another conversation because we have to be I think gentle as we save these, because otherwise, it sounds like we're making a lot of assumptions. That yes be true, you know, or Yes, I'm just you know, I, I've been a little off lately, but I don't want somebody to think my productivities off, but I'm not doing well. Does that resonate?
Yes, I totally agree with you. I think just putting out there these questions, posing questions, puts it on the shoulders of the worker, the team member to respond, and hopefully let the manager know. Yeah, what's what's truly going on for them?
Yeah, that just, I think opening up the conversation, so that people do feel that support is truly a gift that you can give people to open it up. And they may not be ready to talk about it today. But maybe they could talk about it at another time.
And I would just add that if you're the kind of manager and I know that BetterManager's already are doing this, that if you're the kind of manager who is always saying How are you doing, and having these one on ones minimum once a month, and now at least many team meetings once a week right now? How's it going? How's everybody doing? What's going on with your work? Do you have any problems? Do you need any help? All those kind of checking meetings? already have the door open for those kinds of conversations?
Right? Right. I love the question. How can I support you? It's very open ended. Like that's what I want to do. I want to support you now. And you might not need it. And God say, Oh, I'm just fine. You know, I'm just fine. But you want to make sure that you're that you're having that kind of dialogue. So, you know, you wrote this great book banish burnout toolkit. I'd love to hear what are some of the tools that you're finding right now are, you know, what's kind of your your top five list of burnout tools when people are going through this? And they want to? They want? How do I get around this feeling that I'm just or my team members are getting it. Give me your perspective on that?
Well, first of all, similarly to what we were already saying, paying attention to this is for the person themselves, first of all, how are you reacting to stressors. Now, when we used to commute, and there was a lot of traffic, some people would really get crazy on the freeway, have somebody cut them off and speed up and slow down and come up next to them and flash their lights, that doesn't do any good for the other, the other person doesn't know or care, It only hurts you, the person having the reaction? If there's a long line when you're waiting for your coffee, and you're grumbling, oh, my God in your head, all these conversations are going on in your head. I can't believe that clerk is so slow. Why is that woman asking her a million questions about the scones. Nobody knows except you that you're having that conversation in your own head and it doesn't hurt anybody but you, it's really, really important to stop. Take a breath, observe and proceed. And that really deep breath is a true cleansing, physiological calming step. So to stop yourself, and that is the entire trick of the banish burnout toolkit is the stopping and knowing what you're doing to yourself, not to mention the people around you taking a breath, and then proceeding with your behavior.
That makes so much sense. You know, you really do need to be cognizant of, oh, here's how I'm feeling. And here's how it's coming out. And some people have a very short fuse when it comes to that.
Janice Litvin 13:52
Right. And then the add on to I'm sorry, the add on to that is, and I'll start it with a very short vignette. Have you ever been in a meeting or a situation where somebody was snapping, so to speak with you Like, you make an idea in a meeting? And somebody else says, Oh, no, we can't do it that way that doesn't work for our team, but you thought it would work? And hopefully you're not arguing in meetings and you're saying, Okay, well, I'm not going to argue I'm just going to let this go and talk to somebody privately later. But your body is telling you with either knots in your stomach, a little bit of a headache, burning, burning in your brain, your heart rate elevates your palms get sweaty, your body has telling you if you pay attention, that was annoying, that was kind of hurtful, hurtful. And so in part one, the toolkit is what I call the stress audit so that when you have one of those situations where you didn't have a release for your feelings, that you can actually work the step of what happened. How did I feel emotionally, physically, verbally did I engage in addictive behavior for me, it has to be a candy bar, you know, a gallon of ice cream. And so that you can start to analyze how do I react to stress? Because some people don't know that they're getting burned out?
Wendy Hanson 15:12
Yeah, good point. Yeah. And really to always look one of the one of the rules of improv, which I'm sure you're aware of is the "Yes," and to really try to keep finding things that people you know, what I really liked about your idea was this. And
Janice Litvin 15:31
yes, but unfortunately, not everybody knows him from the workplace.
Yes, but yes. And you know, what I like about your ideas, this and in the future. And when you put things in the future, it has a different context. Maybe we can look at it this way. You know, you you really try to meet people where they are, I think that's, that's a really important thing. Okay, so that was some great advice. What else can we do? What's another tool in our toolkit?
Janice Litvin 16:03
There's a pretty deep chapter in the toolkit that people probably would want to do on their own, and it's called unpacking your emotional baggage. You know, many people, I don't have an exact stat. But I've asked a lot of people this question. Many people come to work with emotional baggage, either from role modeling from their parents, or teachers or a trauma. And they're hanging on to some something that happened in the past. And it impacts their behavior today. And one of the keys to understand yourself and the people around you is, does this person's reactions match up with what's happening to somebody freak out and yell at you, when you made a simple suggestion? Or made a simple what you thought was a non threatening comment? That's a sign that you're hanging on to something from the past. So it's important to know, your pay know your patterns from step one, understand the basic to the basic stress reactions or overreaction and overgeneralization and then number three, dive deep in yourself. And there's a wonder some wonderful exercises in the toolkit for that step. Yeah,
Wendy Hanson 17:17
an important piece to really stand back and look in the mirror and say, Yeah, what am I bringing to the table here? Yes, yes. I've had a number of people lately who realize that because we're working at home, and and there's some stats on this, too, that we are working so much more than we did before? Yes, like being on the highway and being stuck in traffic, people are saying, I used to. Now I know, we think I would like that. Because it gave me a transition from when I was at work to when I'm home. And we don't have that transition anymore. Right? Or some that I was coaching had said, what she was having a really hard time not working seven days a week. And it was really important to stand back and look at the schedule and say, How do I Fill my cup? Like what's important to me? What can I do to step away from the edge, and then do something for myself, and it might be going out and seeing a friend, it might be a creative activity, but pulling back and making sure that that is set up. Because we're only we can only control what we can control. And in this case, it's our schedule our activities, we can't control all the things that are happening at work, right. And as a manager, you may be able to make these suggestions to the people that you work with. Absolutely. And I would add,
Janice Litvin 18:38
there was a stat that came out last week, I believe it was in the New York Times that people are working harder and longer. And they're working from like 7pm to midnight to get those last few emails done. So they're working more. And I recommend that people if they have their new remote office setup in the living room, or a common area that if they don't have it in a room where they can close the door. What I used to do when I had a home office in my living room is I put a large sheet over the whole desk, just some kind of physical thing that says the office is closed. And it helps you not look at that one letter, you've got to get done with a proposal that's due Monday, close that off, and there's nothing more important than rest and breaks. A lot of people don't get a good night's sleep, and especially now, and it's more important than ever to rest and recharge so that you're sharp and ready to go and hit the ground running on Monday. So all that extra work you think you're doing on the weekend to catch up is going to impact your productivity. come Monday. Yeah,
Wendy Hanson 19:50
it right. Putting putting your head down and pushing forward is not always going to be the right tactic to be able to get through this. stepping away from the Might be much better.
Janice Litvin 20:02
Another thing for your managers, by the way, is to have built some fun into your zoom meetings doesn't always have to be on the status of that project and the status of that proposal, how about let's have monkey Monday, or let's have dancing Fridays and put on some music before you start your meeting, and say, okay, for five minutes, we're going to dance and every single person on the zoom square is going to take turns, doing a move, and everyone has to follow, and nobody has to be a professional dancer, you can just throw an arm up, or you can just shake. And it physically releases a lot of tension and stress. And everybody's laughing, because some people are goofy. And it just makes the whole tone of the meeting much more fun. So let's build more fun into our zoom meetings. Right?
Wendy Hanson 20:55
And, uh, that reminds me of you really have to know your audience, you know, yes, some engineers who might like I'm not doing that. But there might be other things, you know, what, what, uh, what's one thing that you did over the weekend that you that might surprise somebody else or what's like, know who your audience is, and build in a way to learn more about each other. Because the more that we know about each other, the more that we can be there for people, you know, when they when and colleagues checking on people, you know, it's not just the manager. So a question for you did, do you have some examples of businesses that are doing a good job with helping employees with burnout? Because, you know, some companies just step over it, and will really want to work through it with somebody. So are there any good examples that you can think of when you're research, Janet? Yes,
Janice Litvin 21:49
as a matter of fact, Prudential has a chief medical officer, Andy Creighton, who helped eliminate the stigma of mental health. You know, stigma is a big issue with mental health. And it comes from fear and lack of knowledge. And so what he did was he role modeled healthy behavior by sharing with the whole group, some of his own personal struggles, his wife was going through something. And rather than sweeping everything under the carpet, like the old days, where we didn't share our feelings, he lets it all out. And so that opens the door, in your corporate culture, to say it's okay to share what's going on with you, it will be held in the strictest confidence, we won't share it with the whole world, we're not going to post it on social media to know that stress and depression are real. In America, they were before and they especially are now. And the managers need to know that it's okay to be stressed. And to open that conversation with your teams.
Wendy Hanson 22:56
Yeah, I love that, that as the leader as a role model. And we don't, you know, it's not easy for any of us. And if we can show especially, I've heard a lot more companies right now, being really challenged by helping people with mental health issues, you know, there's access to therapy, you know, the EAP s, but whatever it is, like, people are going to need that. Now, you know, that I think that's why coaching is so important to be able to have that thought partner and have you think through some of the things that are happening, and come up with a plan yourself. But I love it. When I hear that companies are doing things. There was one company that this was a few months ago in the summer, but they said every Friday afternoon at two o'clock, everybody is to turn off their computers and walk away and go out and do something like what's on the edge. And nobody, you don't get any medals for being on here. I want everybody off and they took a stand. That was really important because some people need permission to be able to do that kind of thing. So I think when companies stand back and say, you know, what can we do to support our employees? It's a really, really good thing.
Janice Litvin 24:07
I have two responses to that. Number one, one thing I'm advising and Google is already doing this is asking employees to rate their managers. It can be done anonymously, hopefully through electronics, it might not. They might the HR department would have to set up an anonymous way to put these together. How am I doing? Maybe cut two or three questions, and what can I do to improve as a manager and if everybody gives the same critical point that the person's not empathetic, then Google takes that person off that responsibility and grooms them and replaces that person with someone else. So I think it's really important to ask people, how's the manager doing? The second thing about shutting down at two o'clock? Did you know that when you spend a minimum of just 10 minutes outdoors, there are some things physiological things that happen when the sun touches your skin, it starts to activate the vitamin D. And suddenly your brain is sharper, your critical thinking skills are improved, and you're happier. So get outside as much as possible.
Wendy Hanson 25:16
Now, many, many of the folks that we've worked with have started having their one on ones via phone and doing it while both parties were out for a walk.
Unknown Speaker 25:27
Good. I love that.
Wendy Hanson 25:28
That's fantastic. A lot of research on the fact that we can really be more creative and open up the way we think when we're out walking.
Unknown Speaker 25:37
Wendy Hanson 25:39
it's um, it really is that something not to take for granted. You know, when I get up in the morning, and I go out for my walk, sometimes I'm not going out for my physical health, as much as I'm going out for my brain health does that. And then I'm going to be sitting in a chair all day long, and sitting on zoom, I'm not going to be as productive as I can be.
Janice Litvin 26:01
Exactly taking the 10 minutes away, that goes along with what we were talking about a moment ago about breaks, taking the time away, you think, Oh, my gosh, I don't have time to go take a walk. But what you don't realize is you're going to be more productive while you are at your desk, because you took that break. Right?
So your book is out. Now, I want to know, what's your favorite chapter in the book? What's the chapter that you think is most impactful?
Wow, that's such a great question. I really appreciate that. I love them all, of course, because I wrote them, but I it probably well, chapter one. I like so much. Because of the quick and easy ways you can begin to heal yourself with the stuff that I talked about earlier, and the stress audit. And then the unpacking the emotional baggage is really important. And then step five of jumping around is about setting healthy boundaries, you probably know that many people do not know how to say no, in their personal life and in their work life. And I give you specific scripts of how to let your boss know because as you know, some bosses are not as organized and don't manage productivity and tools and projects as efficiently as they could. And they may not know that the person who's always saying yes, yes, really can't they really got eight arms flying in the air. And they really need to tell you no. So first of all, you have to have an open kind of receptive relationship with that person. And number two, you have to let the person know that it's okay to say, Hey, Joe, I've got 60 hours of work to do in 40 hours, do you think we can offload one of my projects or the easier parts of the project or change the deadlines because now I'm working 60 hours at home, it never ends up getting stressed out and my family never sees me even though I'm at home.
I love that I I think scripts are so important to get us into a conversation that may be difficult conversation to have. So we say it in a way. Because if we don't say it will build up resentment, and then people are going to feel that something's wrong. But if we're able to say it, and we have a little in, so that's a great tip. But like if you say to a person, how are you doing? And they go fine. And the tone of voice doesn't match the verbiage. You know, there's a problem, right? And then, and then you have to figure out okay, clearly they weren't that happy about this question right now. So I better figure out myself, what's the better way to handle it?
This has been really helpful, because I think, you know, we're feeling this, we need to be able to identify it, we need to be able to identify it with others and and see what we can think about and kind of unpack these emotional issues that show up. And one thing that you and I talk about a lot because we're in the gratefulness organization. gratefulness.org is, you know, when things are not going well, when you're feeling really burnt out, think of what you're grateful for, think of what's working, because that will shift your energy and your neurobiology will shift if you do that. So the bringing bringing some gratitude is my last tip.
So absolutely, and I would also recommend, that's a great way to start a meeting.
Yes, always always because it shifts the energy and that we need right now. So if people want to learn more about you and the book, Janice woods, what's the best place to go find you?
JaniceLitvin.com and JaniceLitvin.com/book. And if your readers would like a free chapter at the book page, scroll all the way to the bottom and they can sign up for a free chapter of the book.
So they can get a they can get a little taste of it before they buy it good. Yes. All right. Well, thank you so much. I hope that people listening will stand back, take a little reflection time. Think about some of the things that Jan has shared with us today and how you can help yourself and how you can also help the people on your team. Because not only do we want there to be good productivity work, we want people to feel engaged but not stressed and being able to move ahead and move things forward. So thank you for your wisdom on this and what what great insight to have a book on burnout coming out in the middle of this right now. Timing is everything. So thank you so much, Janice.
Thank you so much, Wendy. I really enjoyed it.
Take care everybody have a wonderful day.