Here Is the Secret to Solving the Current Burnout Problem

March 19, 2022 Jamie Notter

It’s time to recognize that we need a more permanent system for dealing with the reality that we are currently experiencing. Great resignation, hybrid workplace, virtual this and that—it’s all been viewed as pandemic-specific, or something we must react to in the moment. That is true—being able to react to the curve balls thrown at us is important. But as I look ahead, I see all those “temporary” adjustments being replaced by a new set of “temporary” adjustments, and when you add up all the temporaries, you get a permanent.

But we are not adjusting in a permanent way. We’re applying yesterday’s management techniques to today’s challenges, but today’s challenges are never going away, and that is why we are all burning out. So here’s the secret to getting out of that trap:

Quarterly planning, and weekly adjustments.

I am applying this concept with clients in a variety of contexts. For some, it’s overall organizational strategy and execution. Yes you have a nice 3-year strategic plan, but what are the things that must get done this year, and with that in mind, what’s going to move the needle in the next three months. Once you’re clear on that, build a set of critical numbers you can track that will tell you if you have fallen off track on those priorities. Review those numbers and progress every week, and if it’s off track enough, make a strategic adjustment. At the end of the quarter, review and start again. Quarterly planning, weekly adjustments.

I do the same thing when I’m helping clients manage their culture change. What are the areas of culture that need work this year, and which specific changes are you going to implement in the next three months that will move the needle? Then it’s the same as above: measure whether or not you’re on track, and adjust weekly if needed. Quarterly planning, weekly adjustments.

This is a new habit for most leaders, and the adjustment period can be hard. They want to make an annual plan, which matches up with their annual budgeting process, and then they want to be left alone to implement. The world is moving too fast for that approach to be successful any more. You can still set annual goals and targets, but you should move to quarterly planning and weekly adjustments.

If you would like to discuss how to build this discipline into your operating environment, get in touch.

Jamie Notter

Jamie is a co-founder and culture strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders create amazing workplace cultures that drive greater performance and impact. He brings thirty years of experience to his work designing and managing culture, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is the co-author of four popular business books, including the award-winning Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement, and his fall 2023 release, Culture Change Made Easy. He holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.