In working with many libraries to help their staff with critical issues like stopping burnout and improving customer service, I’ve noticed how common it is for many of them to avoid confrontation. They don’t like it. It’s awkward. Take a look at a wonderful article by my friend and fellow career coach, Ed Hunter. Great tips!
ALL I WANT FOR THE HOLIDAYS IS PEACE & QUIET! Take a look at this great article from my friend, Ed Hunter.
Yesterday I was working with a group of librarians and library staff on how to stop burnout. One of the exercises we did in class was about gratitude, and how powerful it is. Then I found this article this morning and had to share it–with Paul’s permission, of course.
I had the great pleasure of working with a group of librarians and library staff last week and wanted to share some of their tips to stop burnout. Some of the top challenges they’re facing are under staffing, stressful patrons who monopolize their time, constant rule breakers, disruptive library patrons, staff in-fighting, the expectation that they will be able to “do more with less”, dealing with multiple demands, and when they make a spectacular effort and pull off a “miracle”, the expectation that the miracle is now the norm.
As we talked about three areas where they can make a difference (drawing from Paula Davis Laach’s recent blog) and not be overwhelmed by burnout, they worked in small groups and shared suggestions.
- Job Control: flexibility and choice, having the doers plan and manage projects, getting the leadership on board v. micromanaging, and having realistic expectations especially around the time it takes to complete tasks.
- Recognition: taking time to recognize small accomplishments, more one-on-one meetings and fewer emails for internal communications, and making staff recognition a standard part of staff meetings.
- Community: remembering to say “thank you”, asking for feedback, being kept in the loop re changes, joining professional organizations and taking advantage of professional learning networks, and building a strong web of connections.
No matter what industry you’re in, these are great suggestions. Please respond to this blog with your ideas. That way we’re all smarter and keep ourselves safe from the damaging effects of burnout.
Here is a beautiful illustration of a human pyramid, and having spent a cold, winter’s afternoon with my three oldest grandchildren (ages 7, 9 & 11), I had the clever idea that we could build a pyramid. I, of course, was on the bottom, and as I felt their bony knees digging into my back, I held my breath, not wanting to be the one who brought the youngest child crashing down from the top. The parents were out and I had images of rushing one or more of them to the ER for stitches. We did not stand up. This was an on all fours pyramid and a wobbly one at that.
We tried different variations–two of us forming the base, then one, and the smallest again on top. No matter what we did we laughed so hard that the structure shook and collapsed. The dog thought it was a game and licked as many faces as he could reach. There is a certain kind of joy in destruction. I’m sure that’s why people like to watch buildings implode.
Build to crumble. Make something that can’t last. Fall down with it. Roll on the floor like a kid. Or a dog. Mess up. I haven’t had so much fun in ages, and no one was hurt in the making of this memory.
(Image courtesy of Adobe Images)
Henry and Rudy waiting by the door, watching the geese in the field.
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at waiting. I don’t like to do it, whether stuck behind a car that has suddenly stopped for no reason, or in line at a restaurant. It makes me twitchy. But I recently heard a sermon about emptiness–really about how we have to tolerate “no” before we can get to a “yes”, and that helped me look at waiting a little differently. (And by the way, Henry and Rudy are really good at this.)
Emptiness is scary. It can make us feel alone, useless, uncertain. But the sermon I heard helped me see it’s also a creative time–a time of possibilities. It’s time when we can reflect, pause, breathe, and let go. It forces us to be present, and like meditation, gives us the gift of the here and now.
That’s my goal for the New Year. To wait, consider, take my time, see what happens.
My best and oldest friend, Nancy, makes these elegant ikebanas. They are a form of meditation and invite us to contemplation. Wishing all of you a good holiday and some moments of quiet to help you prepare for the New Year.
That’s no easy thing, is it? Believing we are enough just as we are. With what we have. Without someone else telling us how wonderful we are. Here’s what made me think of this.
I had an incredible fall. I was asked to speak to diverse groups, from an insurance association to library groups to assisted living professionals. Topics included stopping burnout, presentation skills, lessons from an unlikely therapy dog, and included a workshop on customer service. Then I got to go back to my college and give a presentation for English Majors: “What You Have, Where It Will Take You.”
I was preparing, researching, creating PowerPoint presentations, rehearsing and finally getting myself to the conferences and giving the talks. It was exciting and exhausting. I was running on super drive. And then, the engagements stopped and my phone was silent, and I told myself that this was good–that I needed to recover. (In the middle of all this I caught a virus and lost my voice–just to add to the drama.)
But after a few weeks, I was hungry for affirmation. I wanted someone to call me up and ask me to speak. I wanted to fill my calendar. I wanted someone from the outside to do the work I needed to do on the inside. That made me stop. As a flaming extrovert I like noise and excitement and affirmation, but I also know I can’t depend on it. So in this busy holiday season, in this time when the afternoons are dark by 4PM, when it’s getting colder, I’m watching, waiting, seeing what happens if I don’t need all that busyness.
My new dog, Rudy (a puppy nine months old), has the right idea. Stretch out on the couch. Take it easy. Enjoy walks in the brisk air. Pay attention. And he too likes to be told, “Good dog,” but I think he knows it even when the house is quiet and all you can hear is the cat snoring.
(Top image courtesy of Adobe Images.)
As we approach the holiday season, I thought a little poetry might be a good gift. A way to pause, breathe, slow down. Here are a few lines from Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, translated by Coleman Barks. This is the last stanza of a poem titled “A Bowl.”
“The universe and the light of the stars come through me.
I am the crescent moon put up
over the gate to the festival.”
(Image courtesy of Adobe images)
How bad could it be? San Diego, the Del Coronado hotel, and an international group of life insurance professionals. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking to this group on two topics: How to Stop Burnout, and Presentation Skills. As I stood on the stage in the Crown Room–underneath an impressive crown–I felt so lucky to be there and grateful for what I learned from this audience.
Some of the issues that were leading to burnout included: trouble sleeping, feeling tired and sometimes afraid, losing weight, feeling overwhelmed and lacking in confidence. As we went through strategies to lessen burnout, individuals choose to exercise, keep a sense of humor, listen to music, learn how to turn work off, and to team up with others so that they weren’t facing work challenges alone.
For the afternoon breakout session, “Stand Out Every Time You Talk”, we practiced solid eye contact, and how gestures make your ideas come alive. Everyone had a chance to see themselves using gestures to describe, differentiate and emphasize key points. We talked about how to run an effective Q&A session, and what to do if the audience tunes out or is distracted.
Lastly, it was a magical place. I had never given much thought or attention to palm trees, but I fell in love with their variety, elegance, and delicate fronds dancing in the wind. The place itself–with flowers everywhere–was an amazing burnout buster. I hope everyone went home energized and ready to use their new connections and knowledge to have their best year ever.